In recent years, social activism has become significantly more accessible to the general public. From web surfers communicating through online forums to students demonstrating on college campuses, people are voicing their opinions on social, political and cultural issues more comfortably.
Does the act of more people getting involved more comfortably make activism more derivative?
A few decades ago, public protests succeeded mainly due to the element of shock. The Prague Spring, the South African Defiance Campaign, the Washington Civil Rights March, and many other famous demonstrations– all these movements ended with thousands of arrests. Protests weren’t participated in to kill free time between classes, they were an indefinite commitment of time and safety. At that time, protesting meant placing your freedom on the line, and because of that, it meant so much more.
There still are extreme cases today– stories we hear about on the news to which we are forced to juxtapose our daily lives. Places like North Korea, Somalia, Sudan and so many other war-ridden states, where every day, taking a step outside is its own kind of rebellion. However, in the most developed nations, this sense of urgency has been diluted. When the nature of the oppression has become subtler and more indirect, it is understandable that the nature of the protest follows suit. But if being arrested or punished for expressing yourself is no longer the threat it used to be, does that mean people have to step it up? Wreak havoc at a higher degree?
It is this inherent expectation that has led to disdain for what is being referred to as “slacktivism”. People in our generation have this tendency to add ‘activism’ somewhere on their profile– it’s become a societal staple. Slacktivism essentially refers to people turning into activist robots. These people like the animal rights pages, the Women’s March Instagram posts, they sign the legislative petitions they get email forwards about, but they’re lacking in the passion and depth of feeling towards the cause that makes it immutable. 
However, there is also the reasoning that activism isn’t losing its meaning, but simply developing a different one. Protests and marches now are seen less as a way to fight against oppression but instead as a way to publicize your stance whilst surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
“We’ve started doing these large spectacular marches, whose goal is not to actually overthrow the government or anything like that, but to be a beautiful experience,” – Micah White 
In these cases, the uniting ability of protests still prevails. Because activism has become such a fad, it has picked up more momentum and effectively brought people together. One data scientist estimated over 4300 protests in 2017 itself.  Evidently, the number of participants and amount of media coverage has only increased, even if intentions aren’t as pure. Just the act of showing up has become that of rebellion. If the only way slacktivism manifests itself is in a higher number of supporters, it’s possible that that is a direction we want to move in.
At the end of the day, I suppose it depends on the ultimate goal for social activism. Is the aim to unsettle? To disrupt the status quo? Or is the goal to make it a safer place for a larger base? To make a movement more widespread by toning down its inconceivability, and encouraging the masses? At the end of the day, the question is whether policymakers pay attention to volume or to the nature of the act itself, and only time can give us an answer to that question.