slacktivism
(SLAK.tuh.viz.um) n. Activism that seeks projects and causes that require the least amount of effort.
slacktivist n.

Example Citation:
[The] message said sixth graders at a Los Angeles school were investigating "where, and how fast, e-mail can travel in a period of six weeks." It asked the recipients to send a message to a mailbox at yahoo.com with their city, state and country, and then forward the students' message to everyone on the recipients' mailing lists. . . . [Barbara] Mikkelson says teachers setting up Internet projects underestimate the pleasure people get out of doing something that feels like a public service yet requires no more than a few keystrokes. "It's all fed by slacktivism," she said, "the desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair."
—Barnaby J. Feder, "They Weren't Careful What They Hoped For," The New York Times, May 29, 2002

Earliest Citation:
In 1995, two students at the University of Northern Colorado circulated by e-mail a petition to rally people to protest government cutbacks in PBS, National Public Radio and the arts. In order to ensure it reached as many people as possible, it included the words, "Forward this to everyone you know." . . . Those who wage the seemingly futile war to rid the Internet of such e-mails have given a name to the practice of keeping such e-mails alive: They call it "slacker activism," or "slacktivism" (the term preferred by slacker typists). It's not that these e-mails don't intend to do good, the experts say. It's that they go about it in a way that can too easily become utterly meaningless.
—Month Phan, "On the Net, "slacktivism'," Newsday, February 27, 2001

Notes:
This shortened form of the phrase slacker activism had a brief appearance in a Usenet posting in 1995, and then didn't appear again until 2000 in a discussion concerning people whose idea of activism is clicking the "Forward" button in their e-mail software. Media references to slacktivism didn't appear until 2001.

Many thanks to subscriber Travis Smith for telling me about this term.

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