In the beginning, organizations wanted you to like the heck out of their Facebook pages. Why? You know, community-building, awareness-raising, general “engagement”-upping…
…But one thing clicking “like” doesn’t do is, say, get malaria nets to African villages or boost funding for charity groups. And now that Facebook is nearly 9 years old and Twitter is 7, we’re seeing the inevitable backlash against social-media “slacktivism.”
The campaign, created by ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors, takes a rather bold stance against the awareness campaigns that often spread across Facebook and other social media platforms. UNICEF officials acknowledge that such efforts can help introduce issues to a wider audience, though they fear that for most users, the action stops with the click of a button. To further stress this point, UNICEF Sweden released a bold poster alongside the video clips, saying that every like it receives on Facebook will result in exactly zero vaccinations.
That’s not to say “slacktivists” are a bad thing. Liking, sharing and reblogging do serve their purpose in bringing issues to a wider audience. But then what?
What is called commonly called slacktivism is not at all about “slacking activists;” rather it is about non-activists taking symbolic action—often in spheres traditionally engaged only by activists or professionals (governments, NGOs, international institutions.). Since these so-called “slacktivists” were never activists to begin with, they are not in dereliction of their activist duties. On the contrary, they are acting, symbolically and in a small way, in a sphere that has traditionally been closed off to “the masses” in any meaningful fashion.
The goal then for those working in social media is to simultaneously help the “slacktivist” set help you by building out ambient awareness of an issue through the messaging you create, while also giving activists and more consistently loyal proponents direct calls to action be it donations, volunteerism, network building, etc.
Meantime, if you’re moved to Like a cause, consider volunteering your time and/or other resources to it as well.
The United States and Childhood Poverty: In the Developed World, Only Romania is Worse
Unicef released a new study (PDF) exploring childhood poverty in the world’s wealthiest countries.
What’s happening in this table is a look at what’s called “relative poverty,” defined as the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 “living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.”
The UNICEF report is far from the first to highlight the growing rate of childhood poverty within the U.S. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that in 2010, the most recent statistics available, 15 million U.S. children were living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050 a year for a family of four.
Although children only compose 24 percent of the population, the organization reports they comprise nearly 34 percent of all people living in poverty. The proportion of children in poverty has been on the rise. For instance, the percentage of children living in low-income families (both poor and near poor) increased from 40 percent to 44 percent between 2005 and 2010, including an 11 percent increase among low-income children and a 17 percent rise among those living below the federal poverty rate.
Two Miami Advertising School students, Lisa Zeitlhuber and copywriter Katharina Schmitt created this brilliant digital idea for UNICEF. The student project aims to create awareness for UNICEF’s education program. Using the spell-check-window as a medium, the project reminds users of children in need of education whenever they misspell a word.
By using it, you can donate your misspelled word and teach others how to write and read. Since the spell-check works over the browser, the idea would work in cooperation with Google Chrome so that “Donate a Word” comes automatically with the next browser update, spreading UNICEF’s message on every website.