By Taylor Larson

#BringBackOurGirls, #Kony2012, and #BlackLivesMatter have all played a big part in making those of us in Gen Y more aware of activist groups and movements across the globe. In the last year alone, Millennials jumped in cold lakes and dumped buckets of ice water on their heads for charity, merely because of the videos trending on their timeline.


#BlackLivesMatter graffiti on our walk through D.C. on Friday, January 16. Photo by Kati Seeman

On Thursday morning, we discussed social media credibility and “slacktivism” with Steve Roberts, Sam Feist, Tim Farley, and Adam Sharp. Slacktivism, a term coined in the ’90’s, refers to the “iteration of a long-standing debate between people who think “awareness” is its own kind of protest … and people who, for various reasons, do not,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

The debate is simple: is awareness enough? Is letting your Facebook friends know you support Amyotrophic later sclerosis (ALS) research the equivalent of donating money? Is showing your Twitter followers you’re standing with a Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by a militant Islamist group equal to you going to Nigeria and doing something about it?

My rebuttal: Isn’t awareness half the battle?

Generation Y is historically self-vindicated, self-aware, and self-righteous. We play on our phones too much and refuse to turn on our TV to get the news. As a whole, however, we’re more accepting and better educated. We’re more informed because we’re constantly paying attention to our social media timelines.

If something’s happening in Nigeria, not only do we know about it, we care about it. A feat past generations can’t match.

Do we have the money to donate to ALS research? Absolutely not, have you seen the price of my education?

Do we have the time to travel to Nigeria? I wish, but I’m a little short on vacation if I want to graduate on time.

But isn’t hashtag activism better than nothing?

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