When Slacktivism pitched a tent and went home

When Slacktivism pitched a tent and went home

It is one thing to have protesters lining up to buy their coffee in Starbucks, and their food in supermarkets, while claiming that capitalism is broken. It is forgivable, perhaps, for the protesters to exclaim their diffuse raft of complaints with the world from their iPhones and on their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

Sure, it's hard to get your message heard, when you have a message, amid the static and noise of the media. We can all forgive a good stunt, and we can all appreciate the irony of a group of people with remarkable amounts of spare time to cause trouble camping out on the streets outside St Paul's whilst availing themselves of modern technological comforts and the benefits of capitalism.

I accept that media darling and left-wing writer Laurie Penny is entitled to show solidarity with the working class whilst tweeting about her flatmate coming back drunk from the Booker Prize. I find her twitter feed of unrelenting tribalism humanised by the occasional soupçon of middle-class commentary.

You might forgive Former NUS President Aaron Porter for running a protest called 'Demo-lition' and then claiming complete ignorance when it turned violent. You might associate yourself with the firemen and women who threatened to strike on Bonfire night. You might think that when tube drivers are on more than double the average salary, they have a decent point when threatening industrial action, and you might secretly admire Mark Serwotka for his continued efforts to bring down the economy. But when it comes to discovering that the tents outside St Paul's Cathedral are almost all empty, in the words of the great American philosopher John Patrick McEnroe, you cannot be serious.

Slacktivism, the practice of going 'myeh' noisily when something happens that you vaguely disagree or agree with, pressing a button, Tweeting the hell out of some pressing global issue in the vain hope that someone, somewhere might do something about it, and that your brave alteration of your Facebook profile picture will speed the progress of enlightened causes the world over, just left the bedroom and went out onto the street. Slacktivism just pitched a tent, uploaded a picture of that tent onto a self-facilitating media-node's online web presence, and then went home in time to watch X Factor and wait for their roommate to get back from an awards ceremony.

This is the moment that 'protest' of the sort we've seen up and down the country since the coalition government formed. The loose collection of people who are happy to have the Tories to hate once more in power, and thus can console themselves with producing a lot of sound and light, jumped the shark.


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