Slacktivism, a Case Study

Apparently there is going to be a five minute moment of silence for the victims of Sandy Hook on the web, organized by these folks:

A web-wide moment of silence for Sandy Hook

Join the web in observing a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Umm, no thanks. This may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on the intertrons, and I’ve been at this a while. Shutting down the blog for five minutes tomorrow morning so all twelve people who try to check in get a blank page will do nothing but generate emails and tweets that my site is down. It will do nothing for the victims of Sandy Hook, and it will do nothing to make sure another Sandy Hook doesn’t happen again.

I’m sure the people organizing this have the best of intentions, but we all know the old saying about good intentions and the road to hell. You want to do something that matters? Get all those blogs, websites, and businesses to fundraise for the Brady Campaign for a week so they have a fraction of the financial muscle of the NRA. Get businesses to donate a portion of all sales from now through the end of the holidays to a survivor’s fund.

But five minutes of silence on the… web? Get a fucking grip.

50 replies
  1. 1
    PsiFighter37 says:

    I think they mean you should type a lot less loudly on your keyboard.

    DUH, JOHN.

    PF37 +4 Yuengling

  2. 2
  3. 3
    COB says:

    For your consideration:

    Destruction reigns Supreme.
    A Bushmaster strikes;
    Profits grow.
    Children lie in sacrifice.

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    A moment of Science? I hope with Bill Nye the science guy?

  5. 5
    danimal says:

    You want to do something that matters? Get all those blogs, websites, and businesses to fundraise for the Brady Campaign for a week so they have a fraction of the financial muscle of the NRA.

    Silly libtard. The Brady Campaign already has a fraction of the financial muscle of the NRA. 1/100th, I read this week.

  6. 6
    Roger Moore says:

    Can’t we just change the color of our blogs’ backgrounds to show our sympathy?

  7. 7
    AHH onna Droid says:

    I misread your blurb as ‘ moment of science’ and eagerly clicked to learn more. We so badly need a moment of science here: evidence, statistics, psychology, cognitive bias.

    Btw, science says ridicule is one of the only ways to cut through fixed beliefs. Facts only harden positions. Weird but true.

  8. 8
    cathyx says:

    Ok, you fixed your typo but I would rather have a moment of science. Anybody got something?

  9. 9
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Getting the average idiot in Uhmericuh to shut up for five minutes?

    Nah gunna hap’n.

    Dumb idea. Honorable intention, dumb idea.

  10. 10
    Denali says:

    How about a boycot of Walmart until they stop the sale of assault rifles. They are the largest retail seller of assault rifles in the country. Perhaps they could follow Dick’s example and start a trend.

  11. 11
    Maude says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:
    Did you ever have a moment of silence in school. Everyone’s face would turn purple trying not laugh out loud.
    This is an empty thing to do. Besides, we would have to coordinate out emails to John to get to them in a row. One after another.

    It was minus 30 degrees when the guys launched to the space station yesterday.

  12. 12
    gogol's wife says:

    Yeah I am fed up to here with all the cheap sentimentality. Do something!

  13. 13
    opie_jeanne says:

    This is right down there with wearing green and white to show solidarity with the school.

    It gives people the feeling of doing something about these senseless deaths without, you know, actually doing anything.

  14. 14
    cathyx says:

    I observe many moments of silence while I’m on the computer. I don’t usually make a sound when I’m surfing and reading. Occasionally I burp or cough, but that’s considered being silent, isn’t it?

  15. 15
    opie_jeanne says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    Amen. And I have to say that even as a Christian I’m really angry at all the passivity such as prayer vigils in lieu of actively working to prevent these events from happening. Someone pointed out, maybe it was someone here, that there are two kinds of love: active and … passive? I don’t remember, but the active one is far more useful in the real world.

  16. 16
  17. 17
    dmsilev says:

    @cathyx: Sure. I’ve been doing science all day today, what do you want? Magnetization curves of a spiral spin structure? Mechanical drawings of a compact diamond anvil cell? A marked-up Word file on charge-density waves?

    (yes, these are all things I was working on today. Really.)

  18. 18
    Jackie says:

    How about 5 minutes of howling outrage? That seems far more appropriate to me, and I’m ready, believe me.

  19. 19
    gogol's wife says:


    That was me. I’m a Christian too, but I couldn’t go to church this week. Praying isn’t going to help anything in this situation, or let’s say JUST praying isn’t going to help a damn thing. My husband said the sermon was about how Mary too lost her child. He was 33 years old, and he wasn’t blown away by a Bushmaster! I know that’s not logical, but it’s probably what I would have shouted.

    ETA: The other kind of love is “contemplative,” from Dostoevsky.

  20. 20
    Quicksand says:




  21. 21
    cathyx says:

    @dmsilev: How about something that I can understand.

  22. 22
    Bill Hicks says:

    Maybe a thermometer thingy fundraising goal with a worthy organization like the Brady Foundation (John mentioned, assuming they are worthy as he is darn trustworthy) would be a good post. As an annoying fucker who rarely gives, I’m actually interested in trying to throw a few bucks to a good antislaughtergun group.

  23. 23
    quannlace says:

    The other day, in our local pape, The Star Ledger, there was a story about a woman in Iowa. Shocked by the story from Newtown and wanted to do something. Being a baker, she organized with a group of friends to drive out to CT. There, baked over 300 apple pies and handed them out to townspeople.
    Now that might sound silly to some people. But it makes a heck of a lot sense then an empty five mins. of silence.

  24. 24
    Scamp Dog says:

    @dmsilev: Cool! Are you a physicist of some sort? Inquiring minds want to know!

  25. 25
    Mudge says:

    Maybe less a time of silence than a time of outrage over what has happened.

  26. 26
    red dog says:

    Candles and vigils piss me off… they must be salve for the soul of “do nothings”. How about training all the unwanted dogs in this country to attack the smell of gunpowder and put one to roam in every school…gunman rushed by ankle biters suffers humility and dies from rabies, slowly.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    @cathyx: Let’s put it this way. When people ask “fucking magnets, how do they work?”, I’m someone who can give an answer. Basically, most of what I study involves magnets of various types, both the relatively straightforward ferromagnets (the sort of magnetism you find on a refrigerator magnet) and more exotic forms. One thing that we often do is tune the magnetism, and one of the knobs we have for tuning is to squeeze the sample so that the atoms get a little closer together. For most crystalline materials, you need tens of thousands of atmospheres of pressure to do much of anything, so we tend to do our squeezing by putting samples in between two diamonds and pushing hard on the backs of the diamonds.

  28. 28
    cathyx says:

    I think the idea of the silence is to pray for them during it. But it’s a secret that they don’t want the atheists to know about.

  29. 29
    dmsilev says:

    @Scamp Dog: Yep, guilty as charged.

  30. 30
    Baud says:


    There was a post on Reddit about a new discovery at MIT regarding magnets.

  31. 31
    dmsilev says:

    @Baud: Heh. Lead author on that paper is a colleague of mine. Didn’t realize that the paper was out yet.

  32. 32
    Jackie says:

    @cathyx: I’m on to them. I sing roll me over in the clover in my head during moments of silence.

  33. 33
    cathyx says:

    @dmsilev: Ok, I understood that. Science is much better than silence.

  34. 34
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I can think of sites that would not be missed if they shut down for five years.

  35. 35
    gbear says:

    On a neighborhood facebook page (for a politically motivated neighborhood), I wrote a post about a gun and knife show that will be taking place in a civic building a month from now, pointed out that our city council memeber is on the board of directors for that civic building, and asked people to call him. Before I did that, I called him myself to ask if this was an appropriate use of a civic building. The comments I’m getting on my post are from people saying they didn’t believe in gun ownership before Newtown, but they do now. I want to ask if that was a joke, but then I realized that I don’t want to know the answer.

    I made my donation to The Brady Campaign over the weekend. Not much, but I’m up to my armpits in credit card bills for a few months. I’ll give more when I can.

    I ordered some buttons from CafePress that say ‘I am NOT carrying a gun’. I’m going to wear it all winter and a bunch of my friends thought it was a cool idea and are going to wear them too. We’d kind of like it to go viral.

    And I still feel like I’m pissing in the wind, and I’m sure a bunch of commenters will comment to me about how I am right in that assumption.

    What I really wish is that every cocksucker with an arsenal stashed in his basement would have an electrical short circuit at some point this winter. I want to see these ‘patriots’ consumed by the flames of their own paranoia. I want to see a YouTube of their houses blowing up.

    I will give the world seven minutes of silence tomorrow morning by hitting the snooze alarm one extra time.

  36. 36
    mapaghimagsik says:

    Can’t I just buy a magnet and stick it on my car, or a bracelet. I don’t know how to show my support if I can’t buy something.

    And don’t say candlelight vigils are on ineffective. They are for the survivors.

    Oh, and great for meeting members of the sex of your preference.


  37. 37
    mapaghimagsik says:

    Can’t I just buy a magnet and stick it on my car, or a bracelet. I don’t know how to show my support if I can’t buy something.

    And don’t say candlelight vigils are on ineffective. They are for the survivors.

    Oh, and great for meeting members of the sex of your preference.


  38. 38
    peorgietirebiter says:

    @gbear: Embarrassed to ask but is The Brady Campaign thre consensus site for donations? I made a small donation over the weekend as well but my wife suggested we check before we did their monthly automatic deduction deal.

  39. 39
    Jorge says:

    Thanks for the suggestion – just gave!

  40. 40
    gbear says:

    @peorgietirebiter: I don’t know. They’re the most established national group and they’re going after lax gun laws in the courts. I don’t know if you get the most bang (so to speak) for your buck there, but from what I saw on their website, I liked their approach. I didn’t do research to fine any local gun-control groups.

  41. 41
    peorgietirebiter says:

    @gbear: thanks, I can look into it, I just thought there might be an obvious choice that I hadn’t heard about. I haven’t seen any seriuos pitches from the usual suspects as of yet and Brady.was recognizable and spoken of in a positive light.

  42. 42
    FormerSwingVoter says:

    Is there a gun control organization that I could donate to? It may not be much, but it seems more useful than some web-based moment of silence :p

  43. 43
    Whidby says:

    Shutting of the inter webs for 5 minutes will accomplish approximately the same thing as all of the internet posturing and teeth gnashing over the past few days will accomplish.

    So much good intentions, so much magical thinking.

  44. 44
    Whidby says:

    Shutting of the inter webs for 5 minutes will accomplish approximately the same thing as all of the internet posturing and teeth gnashing over the past few days will accomplish.

    So much good intentions, so much magical thinking.

  45. 45

    Ever since Oklahoma City, I have despised candlelight vigils, teddy bears, and all of the twee ways in which we are supposed to show sympathy.

    I’ve avoided TV as much as possible, not only because I see grieving survivors that bring me to tears myself, but also because I know one or more of the slain kids’ moms will be on the morning shows sooner or later.

    This poor mom will be made to make the rounds of interviews and retell her story over and over again. She will be told how courageous she is, and told, oh, isn’t it wonderful that we can use this tragic incident to learn something important about ourselves? Accompanied by that tinkly sentimental stock music.

    I’ll never forget Congressman Giffords making the rounds of the TV interview showsafter recovering from her assassination attempt. They all told her, oh, how wonderful and courageous she is, and isn’t she such a great role model? It’s true, by the way; she has earned every function she has since clawed back, considering what happened.

    But not a word about the agent who caused her new disabling condition.

    Not a word. It’s as if she were just disabled out of the blue.

    There was a nine-year old girl there, too, if you remember.

    She will never get to learn anything important about herself or anything ever again. Neither will those first-graders who were murdered last week.

    The elites love this cheap, ghoulish senitimentality. Better to have the masses lulled by that tinkly music, sending dozens of teddy bears that will be taken away to the dump soon after, and telling them they can learn something about themselves from this.

    Go ahead, have your “moment of web silence”. It’s easier than having to think about the eliminationism that the Republicans gleefully foster.

  46. 46
    gogol's wife says:


    I’ve been looking at the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence. I’ve contributed to Brady for years. I’m not sure where to look to figure out who would be most effective.

    Whidby is here to discourage action. Ignore him.

  47. 47
    whidby says:

    @gogol’s wife: Oh, no by all means, give all the money you can to those two groups and encourage your friends to do the same.

    I set a calendar reminder so you can I can discuss this in a year and look at the progress made.

    What’s your prediction?

    Here’s mine: if any new federal gun law pass, it will most likely be restrictions on sale of “assault rifles.” Not a ban, mind you. So a year from now there will be tens of thousands more “assault rifles” in circulation than there are today. Sales are skyrocketing right now.

    And the effect of this ban? Since about 50 people a year killed in this country by “assault rifles” there is a chance that might decrease someday. Of course about as many people are struck and killed by lighting on average, so one has to wonder whether devoting hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours of time to banning the sale of assault rifles is really the best use of time and money.

    About 500 kids are killed each year accidentally with guns. That’s right that problem is 10 times as large as “assault rifle” killing sprees. If the same money and time were devoted to getting triggerlocks on guns it would probably save far more lives than an “assault weapons” sales ban. It would probably be a lot easier to get through the congress, too.

    But commonsense, rational measures don’t get people very excited. They’re not sexy. News crews usually don’t cover those funerals. They like to “take on the evil NRA” and stuff like that.

    Thats just one example, of course of things that could really have an impact and are easier to accomplish.

    It sort of the same thing with dangerous dogs. People get all excited about breed specific legislation and dangerous pit bulls and so on. The far more effective approach is to fund free spay and neuter clinics. That reduces dangerous dog populations and encourages responsible ownership. Not as exciting as a good controversy, of course.

  48. 48
    opie_jeanne says:

    @gogol’s wife: That was it, contemplative. The comment that included that quote was excellent. I wanted to print it out, I want to wave it under the noses of people who are doing nothing but praying and showing solidarity and wringing their hands about how we can do nothing to change the world.

  49. 49
    Cwj51 says:

    Go to a gun show, go to a gun store, buy as many high capacity magazines as you can afford, take them home and smash them with a hammer, then send them to the NRA.

  50. 50
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I live int he Bay Area–fertile birthing grounds for stupid and completely useless “activism” and “protests,” so I’ve been somewhat desensitized to stupid and completely useless “activism” and “protests,” but still…what a stupid and completely useless bit of “activism.”

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