Slacktivism for health care on Facebook

, Friday, September 4th, 2009

With all the talk about Slacktivism going around lately, both pro and con, I was impressed to see it in fine form yesterday, all over Facebook.

Slacktivism is the fine art of one-click activism, and it’s been panned as a way to feel good but accomplish nothing.  But from the time I woke up yesterday to the time I went to bed, I watched this statement grow and spread through my Facebook network, and it didn’t feel like an empty gesture:

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

It’s simple, direct, and easy to join in. It got the attention of the White House, for one. I’d be surprised if plenty of Congresspeople didn’t see it, too. But the striking thing to me is that, in a debate that’s been known for anger and misinformation, this simple, positive message spread so fast and far. Where a few people might have spoken out in favor of health care reform of their own accord, this statement had (probably) thousands of people speaking out with a single voice and showing their support for an issue in desperate need of supporters.

President Obama was "encouraged" by the spread of this pro-health care message on Facebook

President Obama was "encouraged" by the spread of this pro-health care message on Facebook

I haven’t heard where this effort started – whether it’s the careful plan of an anonymous cause marketer – but I like to think it was a spontaneous, grassroots statement.

As a marketer contemplating the implications, I’ve got a lot of lingering questions about what this means.  How many people posted it?  How far did it spread?  On a closed network like Facebook, it may be impossible to find out.  There’s no signup to track, or link to click – just a plain-text post to your status.

But we can ask about the impact: Did it change the debate? Probably not too much.  Did it get attention? Most definitely. I don’t know whether it spurred dialog or just made a statement – if you have any anecdotes, please share them in the comments!

I, for one, found this to be a very inspiring example – Slacktivism at its best.


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