Let’s be real: the broad majority of those who adopted HRC’s photo had, theretofore, not lifted a finger on behalf of gay marriage. And when they did lift a finger, that’s all they did—lift a finger and click the mouse a few times.
Which is not to say one can support a political cause only if he works for it 24/7. But what percentage of those with HRC profile pictures have spent even a few minutes reading intelligently about the gay marriage debate, e-mailing their elected representatives, donating to gay-marriage support groups, or listening to this week’s oral arguments? These, alas, are largely private pursuits, and they don’t come with public validation in the form of positive comments and “likes.”
And so we get more mass slacktivism: low-effort, public activism that risks nothing, oversimplifies complicated topics, and has more to do with the individual than the cause. It’s offensive and trite.
I get where he’s coming from, but I view this mostly as the equivalent of yardsigns or maybe bumper stickers. I rarely apply either, but I did partake in the Facebook exercise. And if we had something on the state ballot, I’d probably put a yardsign up.
Why? Why on this issue and not on any other? Partially because this is one of those issues where I see black and white and feel pretty strongly about it. It’s also an issue where I can make a statement – however minor – as someone that doesn’t fit into the conventional liberal mold. People on Facebook know I don’t, so this is my very quickhand way of saying “Yeah, even though I might support these non-liberal policies, I also support this.”
Is it cheap? Sure. But that’s okay. So are yardsigns. But yardsigns can have the affect of raising awareness of a particular candidate or issue. And because it’s easy, it’s easily replicated. One of the issues with the gay marriage movement is that the non-passionate supporters have been “on the run” in the conversation. Politicians whom many of us feel have supported gay marriage privately have publicly disavowed that support? Why? The perception of a lack of popular support. The last poll in my state on the issue is that it’s 50/50. You’d never guess it, though, because opponents of SSM are so much more likely to speak up in such larger numbers. It would have been better for the movement had there been more “cheap” activism for longer. More solidarity outside liberal circles. And I’ve seen more than a few posted by people who are not enthusiastically liberal across-the-board.
This is not at all to criticize those that didn’t participate. I could have gone either way, to be honest. And in many ways, this sort of thing runs against my grain. But, vain though it may be, it is nice to know that a lot of people agree with you on an issue that, not that long ago, made you fringey.