Slacktivism – Petitioning for Social Change
Slacktivism. It’s a word recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary as “Actions performed via the internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website or application”. But slacktivism is so much more than just a word. It’s a movement.
Lately, I have taken to signing a lot of online petitions that make their way across my news feed or into my inbox. Initially I didn’t think much of it, but then I realised – it’s a way that I can affect social, political and environmental change all from the comfort of my home. In a day and age when the power of both Governments and Corporations can feel overwhelming, the ability of the individual to help stamp progress cannot be underestimated.
I took a look at the leading online platforms where petitions can be accessed (or movements can be created). Here’s what I found.
Change.org is undoubtedly the dominating powerhouse in this market. It is a social enterprise, allowing anyone to create a petition, and provides a platform connecting people across geographic and cultural borders to support causes they’re passionate about.
The stats speak for themselves: 275,691,339 people taking action, with over 33,000 victories in 196 countries.
This site features all types of petitions, from campaigns helping disabled individuals gain visas, to humanitarian rights movements like banning FGM in Massachusetts.
Several petitions that I have signed recently, and that are of particular interest to me, are as follows:
Petition to the RSPCA to create an Animal Cruelty sanctions list banning offenders from owning animals. Currently, animal cruelty laws in Australia are extremely relaxed, and are actually non-punishable offences. Over 168,000 people have signed this petition to date. If this resonates with you, please click here to sign the petition.
Petition to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources to ban live exports of all animals from Australia. I am still shocked to learn about the appalling conditions endured by animals as part of the export process. Personally, I see no reason why these beings are being slaughtered, but to capitallise on their misfortune for the financial gain of exporters is something that must be stopped. 218,000 have signed their names against this petition. Please click here to show your support.
Petition to the Commonwealth Government of Australia about the plan management of the Murray Darling Basin. A lack of consideration for this plan has led to significant fish deaths and river bank erosion due to unsustainable flows being pushed through. The flooding has resulted in the deaths of animals, as food supplies go depleted. To show your support for this issue, please click here.
SumOfUs is a community of over 15 million people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations. They understand the importance of buying from, working for and investing in the companies that respect the environment and support their employees.
In Australia, they stopped Standard Chartered’s investment in a reef- killing mine project and halted Australian funding for a mine in South Africa that puts locals and the environment at risk.
One of their victories came from a petition of almost 500,000 signatures to stop McDonalds using plastic straws. The petition was a success, and as of mid-2018 McDonalds began to phase out plastic straws in markets in Europe and America.
A key petition that is currently gaining momentum is addressed to KFC and Pizza Hut. The petition is to stop supporting deforestation in their supply chains. Rainforests are being slashed to produce palm oil, soy, beef and paper used by these large corporations. If you want to get on board and support this petition, please sign here.
Do your signatures actually have an impact? I think the victory statistics speak for themselves. It’s easy to sign, it only takes a few seconds, and if you share these movements with your friends you can help these petitions be victorious.
Your signature means a lot to an advocacy organisation. And, make no mistake, because of your signatures, these petitions do get passed. Do not underestimate the power that we, as individuals, can have.