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Study reveals new national pastime — activism!

LatinaLista — Activism used to be a lonely club. Not to mention, a dirty word. Though among conservative circles, it’s still as distasteful a word as “liberal.”

But unless you were a hardcore activist who regularly took to the streets, participated in protest marches, sit-ins or boycotts, it wasn’t uncommon for the occasional activist to grudgingly admit to the label when outed.

No más.

Whether it’s thanks to social media or today’s polarizing politics, activism is becoming an American pastime. A new mini-documentary based on a behavioral quantitative study commissioned by backslash, the editorial arm of TBWA Worldwide, an international advertising agency, found that 85 percent of Americans participated in some form of activism last year.

This national adoption of an activity that used to be relegated to minority and marginalized groups underscores a phenomenon that researchers identify as “Pan Activism.”

Defined as “activism that is mass, multidimensional, fluid and characterized by everyday actions,” today’s activists no longer just include the stereotypical activist. Today’s activism isn’t always loud, in-your-face or even public either. It also includes something as private as donating to an online campaign from the privacy of home or changing a profile picture on Facebook.

One of the more remarkable observations of the study is that no longer are just small groups protesting on their own for their own issue. Now, groups are collaborating and joining forces because, as researchers believe, there is a “mainstream acceptance that inequality faced by one group can handicap the many.”

Silence is no longer seen as just not wanting to get involved but is considered complicity in whatever is deemed an injustice by the group.

That thinking resonates with both sides of an issue that has led, unfortunately, to a rise in the darker side of who is an activist, such as hate groups.

Yet, this new pan-activism means that there is no action too little to make an impact.

…But when small actions are done en masse, they can have a big impact. And reward breeds habit. While some pundits believe that enduring struggle is critical to demonstrating commitment to a cause, pure volume, visibility and frequency of an act may affect change in ways never achievable by protesting in the street for a day.

That’s good news in getting more people aware of issues and their impact on society but could it also be bad if activism is that ubiquitous, it won’t be long before people grow tired of hearing about yet another cause or campaign, and worst, grow tired of participating?

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