Like so many others (I know you’re out there) I start my day by turning off my phone alarm and almost immediately afterwards navigating my way over to either Facebook or Instagram for, what I refer to as, my morning scroll. This ritual has become essential to the start of my day. It keeps me updated on what my friends are doing, what is going on in the world, and of course the all important overload of adorable animal videos that give me the mental strength needed to get out of bed.
Over the last few months of my Facebook scrolling I have noticed a trend that is becoming increasingly popular. As a way to celebrate our birthdays, Facebook has now given us the ability to encourage our friends and family to donate to a charity or cause that we feel strongly about- how awesome! Simply set your fundraising goal and as the days leading up to your birthday go by, watch the donations add up. This idea of using your birthday as a way to give back to a cause that you support is a terrific and meaningful idea that myself and the rest of the Good Deeds Day team are 100 percent behind… but are these types of campaigns making as much of an impact as we would hope them too?
(Small) monetary donations do make a difference and are a great way to support a cause, but we can do better. For your next birthday (or weekend- hey we can do good whenever), I challenge you to take your donation campaign a step further. This is the step that will separate your campaign from being clumped into the expanding vortex known as slacktivism and into one where you are creating a meaningful difference.
Slacktivism? You’re probably thinking I just made that up, but sadly I can not take the credit. Dictionary.com defines slacktivism as actions performed via the Internet in support of a social or political cause, but requires little time or involvement. Sounding familiar yet? Over the last few years we have become increasingly surrounded by slacktivism in one form or another: changing our profile pictures to have a certain temporary banners in support of a movement, signing an online petition, sharing trending hashtags, or taking part in the latest challenge video.
But hold up – these are all wonderful ways to show you care about something and bring awareness to it. Raising awareness is the first step to bringing about change and social media has given us the ultimate platform to do just that. Unfortunately, it also has conditioned us to stop at the raising awareness stage. The mentality of activism on platforms like Facebook and Twitter has transformed into slacktivism, because we now classify taking action as simply liking the page or posting something related to a trending hashtag. Are we following up to see the impact our dollars made, where it’s going, or how much they raised? Or taking it a step beyond that and checking how we can contribute in real time? Likely not – and I am guilty of it too. When we scroll through Facebook it appears like everyone is socially aware and spreading the word for a cause that truly matters to them, but sadly since a majority of them are not also taking action out in the real world, we are falling short of making a lasting impact.
Back to my challenge for you- take the next step and remove yourself from falling under the label of slacktivism. If you are thinking about posting a donation campaign on Facebook for your birthday (do it!!!!), but take it a step beyond just donating. I challenge you to get hands-on. Invite your friends to join you for a day of volunteering at the place you are raising money for or find a local organization that supports the same cause. It is a great way to spend time together that has a positive effect on everyone involved.
By giving your time and not just your money you are able to see and feel the impact that you are making. Volunteering opens the door to new experiences, new connections, gives us a way to strengthen and develop skills, and of course lends a helping hand where it counts the most. Now, more than ever in today’s current climate, it is important for us to think about our global community and our personal role in making positive change. Not only can you (yes you!) make a difference, but studies have shown that volunteering is literally good for you; giving you one more reason to get out there and give back!
Ready to make a difference, but not sure how to start planning your volunteer activity? Here are a few tips and examples in order to get your creative wheels turning:
- Are you an animal lover? Spend a day of giving back at your local animal shelter. There is always work to be done and plenty of furry friends that would love someone new to play with.
- Are you contributing to a hunger elimination campaign? Why not spend an afternoon helping to prepare and serve food in a local soup kitchen or shelter.
- What are you and your friends passionate about? Any interest can become a fun way to explore giving back – don’t be afraid to get creative! Check out these nifty projects for a wide variety of different volunteer ideas.
Keep on liking, sharing, and donating to birthday fundraising campaigns- just don’t forget to follow up and see how else you can get involved. Let’s turn our mouse-clicking complacency of slacktivism to activism! So, what are you waiting for? Turn off your computer, put your phone in your pocket, grab some friends and go get involved- together we create noticeable difference in the world around us!