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Thursday, January 17, 2013

7 Ways to Refresh Your Social Good Vocabulary in 2013 | Charles Bentley, Impatient Optimists

As a longtime political activist and communications specialist for public and nonprofit agencies, I'm familiar with most of the words in this column. I've even used a couple of them at times.

They're mostly useful, unique and even attention-getting, but as with any type of terminology, they can become cliches through overuse.


The one word that seems too creative for its own good is slackitivism. Here's Bentley's definition of that term:

A “feel-good” measure, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. In today’s digital age, we are in no shortage of e-advocacy campaigns soliciting users to sign online petitions to advocate for a cause. ... Many critics have dubbed it “slacktivism,” a means for thousands to proclaim their support or criticism of a campaign with just a click of a mouse. “Slacktivists” don’t actually have to break a sweat, and thus can often be recognized as individuals not fully engaged in making change.
It's too "insider" and too negative. I understand the point of the word and the concerns that prompted it. But I think its use by "real" activists denies the positive feelings, the potential for further action, and the real (if limited) value of actions taken by so-called "slacktivists." Instead of belittling that group of activists, critics should be building on their interest and efforts. Find ways to enhance their impact by increasing their involvement. 

When I first heard crowd-sourcing several years ago, it sounded like jargon to me, for use by people within a field. I still think that way; I don't expect it to take on popular use--or, more importantly, popular understanding. People using that word need to be aware that it's not a familiar term to many people. 

Here are the other words:
  • cause marketing
  • corporate responsibility 
  • shared value
  • social good
  • armchair advocate.
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Bentley's article is featured today, Jan. 17, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communication, available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.


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