Passive Activism by Kimberley Tan

People love to feel cool. We’ll jump on the bandwagon every chance we get, keeping up with the newest fashion trends and latest musical hits almost religiously. Every industry has its fads. Recently, even social activism has become a fad, when the Kony 2012 video became a sudden viral hit. Because of this video, the movement has been gaining a lot of momentum. People are clearly aware of the atrocities, professing their support to end it and organizing thousands of “Cover the Night” protests across the world.  Most of my friends deemed the movement a success.


I’m not so sure. Not to sound like a cynic, but sudden bursts of commitment to causes like this produce actual change far too infrequently to believe that this particular cause will have a lasting impact. Most of the time, people sit at home and “attend” events or sign online petitions, only to then delude themselves into thinking that they’re making the world a better place. They congratulate themselves without even breaking a sweat, without getting out of their seat, and without actually reaching out to those with the power to act.


In six months, or six weeks, or even six days, what will they have contributed to the cause? If they have done nothing but click a couple of buttons, we can hardly call that effecting real change. Millions of people jumped onto this “fashionable” Kony 2012 protest, but once the fad has passed, how many of these protestors will persist? It’s easy to like a Facebook page for a cause; it’s much harder to actually commit to it. It’s absurd how many people think that their negligible contributions suddenly make them a humanitarian and almost a hero.


People need to understand that such change does not happen in a day, a week, or even a year. Before applauding ourselves on our positive contribution, truly commit to a cause and initiate concrete action outside of the realm of social media. Instead of clicking a button to sign an online petition, take the time to hand-write letters to your government officials to show that you care for the movement. Instead of posting a Facebook status about the importance of a cause, organize protests so that the whole nation, not simply your friends, will hear with you have to say.