Activism is an important tool in creating meaningful social change. Right now, outrage over police brutality and systemic racism is pushing more people to become activists and to examine their own roles in the push for social justice. Today, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, activism is increasingly taking place over social media, in addition to the protests happening all over the country.
But what is social media activism? Want to get involved but aren’t sure how? Here’s what you need to know about this powerful tool—and how to use it for good.
So What Exactly is Social Media Activism?
The basic premise of social media activism is simple: it’s activism that takes place on online social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. These public platforms allow for easy sharing of photos, videos, and text so people can express their opinions globally and demand change. Hashtag campaigns like #blacklivesmatter have been instrumental in gaining momentum for social media activism since these platforms became popular.
Social media allows anyone to express their opinion, which has its benefits and downsides. It’s easy to write off social activism as insincere or driven by the need for an ego boost or a pat on the back. But while some people do engage in this form of “activism” to signal to their friends that they are a good person, these platforms can be used for much, much more.
Important resources, stories from those affected by violence and racism, and difficult conversations are all being shared on social media. Petitions and donations are also important components of social media activism.
How to Join In & Make a Lasting Impact
Social media activism’s goal should be to create change beyond the screen. If you want to join in and make a difference, it’s important to do more than to just follow the trends and use the right hashtags. Education and mobilization are the best possible outcomes of social media activism done right.
First, it’s important to understand that activism is never easy. There is a lot of emotional labor involved and it’s important not to give up when you feel tired. Societal changes will only take place when people hear the same messages over and over again.
To make a lasting impact, you need to understand your own role. People who have been marginalized can make a difference by telling their stories, and allies must lift those voices up and avoid making the activism all about them. Knowing your role, being willing to learn, and being persistent are all key in social media activism.
Sharing petitions, contact information from legislatures, information about protests, and online donation funds are all other ways to make a difference. Sharing reliable information combined with concrete ways to make a difference is what differentiates true, meaningful social media activism.
Make Sure You Pay Attention to Authenticity of News & People
People who are opposed to the goals of activists will try to obscure the truth by sharing fake news or partial truths. Fake news is meant to confuse people, create division, and turn public opinion against activists’ causes. It is also used to make people look better or worse than they really are.
If you want to participate in social activism, you must be very careful about what you choose to share. Do your research and learn how to identify fake news. If you don’t, your credibility will be questioned and you will be sharing untruthful information that could cause harm. Fact check before you post!
Remember, Social Media Can Be Either a Positive or a Negative
Social media can be an incredible tool for activism. We’ve already seen small but important steps forward, thanks to the actions of activists online who are pushing for change offscreen. With that said, it’s important to know when to step away from social media for your own well-being.
Taking breaks from the screen is important, especially when you’re doing the emotional work of activism. Don’t burn yourself out and lose focus. We need people to continue fighting for the rights of people all over the world using every tool available to them. Social media isn’t perfect, but it’s an incredible way to start and sustain these important conversations.
Image from Pixabay
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.