Boycott the Olympics, they said. Their stance on human rights is downright medieval, they said. Know what they didn’t tell you? How completely and utterly fruitless that effort was going to be.

Boycotts don’t work, they just don’t. Not on their own, anyways. You want to make a statement – that you do not support the kind of subhuman practices that the host country practices – and that is commendable, really it is. What needs to sink in, frankly, is you can’t make a statement by practicing a strict regimen of targeted apathy. You need to do more.

You don’t like a brand of coffee that pays slave wages to migrant workers? Spend your money on brands that don’t, buy fair trade. You don’t want to fund an oil goliath that laughs all the way to the bank as marine life trudges through petrol sludge? Invest in an alternative energy lifestyle, or even just use the gas station slightly further down the street. Your actions are what prompt reaction. Inaction only prompts your own personal satisfaction, and boy ain’t that worth a whole lot to the rest of us.

So why is it that when Russia’s gay-ablative attitude mars the greatest of games, the most vocal among us call for the masses to bury their head in the sand and wait for it to be over? I’m not proposing we turn the other cheek and let the Sochian scandals simmer in the back of our minds, but there is more that can be done. Done by you, me, and the rest of the tens of thousands of people lumped into “Boycott Sochi 2014” Facebook groups.

Call someone who is involved. Inform people in your circles who are uninformed. Educate yourself on every side of the issue, so you can take the steps towards actually making a difference, even if the difference is minute in the grand scale of things. It is called activism for a reason.

The Olympics will carry on regardless of whether you boycott them or not, as hard as you may find that to believe. As much as it is a venue for the toughest and more talented among us to strut their stuff, it also has the unintended effect of shining a ever-scrutinous light on the country it is held, and history has proven that as soon as the light is gone, people forget.

People forgot about the Greek controversy surrounding Athens’ impossible infrastructure costs and the people who were left in the 2004 games’ wake. People forgot about the human rights’ violations that made Beijing a hot topic only six years ago.

You know what you can do? You can remember. Remember that these problems are still problems long after the games are over, and keep shouting to anyone who will listen until the problems are fixed. People who are disadvantaged overseas do not magically get their rights back when we go back to our daily lives. Remember who they are.

And if you can’t do any of those things, then please stop giving a damn, because it reflects poorly on those who do.

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