07 Sep Social Media and Activism-Can We Really Make a Change?
When you read some tweets, with a very clear political statement in it, what is your first reaction? Oh,
gosh, anotherone! What does he think he is? Or bravo I want to be bold just like you and put my words and opinion into 100 something characters.
Then, after that reaction you probably think deeper and say to yourself – is it matter? Who cares? Can we make an impact or it’s just in our heads? I will tell you: YES, we still can and we still do make an impact more than we ever did before.
What is activism? You can read in multiple sources, that activism is the use of direct action to achieve some goal, which is usually a political one or it’s related to some social issue.
If before going on the streets was an only possible way to protest, then we can’t use that excuse anymore in the 21st century. The Internet has changed everything, and now we have more than 4 billion users online. Also, we have around 3 billion active social media users.
Those young people know how to take advantage of new technologies and connect themselves all around the world in one community that has the same goal – to make a change and rewrite the rules. Is that always efficient enough?
Awareness and Empowerment
If you’re looking, for one major area that has changed a lot since the rising of the Internet – then you must count on activism. Before, when activists around the world were protecting threes or protesting against nuclear plants, they had to make a really big buzz to be featured in some media reports. Now, every social media account is a great channel to make your press conference directly from the protests.
I can’t even begin to list all those movements I’ve discovered on social media, and how important that is for people to find out about their work and activities. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have a chance to be heard, and this is the biggest positive impact of social media except for connecting people. The more people are backing a movement, the bigger it becomes.
What encourages them to connect with others? Hashtags of course. They feel like a part of a bigger picture, and they have a sense of a community when using them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other networks use them nowadays, to connect posts about the same topic and let’s be frank – when we use them, we feel strong and empowered.
Do you remember how important ‘Me too’ movement is? It all started 2 years ago when the famous actress Alyssa Milano encouraged all women who had been sexually harassed to write these two important words as their statuses. In only two days, around 2 million women, from 85 countries all over the world, wrote this in many different languages (#YoTambien, #QuellaVoltaChe, etc.)
What happened after? Gender equality activists globally saw the opportunity and used it for their voices to be heard and make an even bigger impact spreading the word. Support began to be very important, and it showed everyone that acting together is a game-changer.
Online and On-land Activism
It is important to know that none of this would happen if Alyssa didn’t have online support and a great community to work with. We must emphasize that but also we must be aware of the fact that online activism is not enough.
Let’s take a look at one case of online activism that didn’t bring wanted results. Do you remember of horror that Boko Haram military made in Nigeria 5 years ago? They kidnapped 276 girls and the reactions of local NGOs were strong but still not enough. They managed to make a great online reaction, engaging even some celebrities, but still, that didn’t make politicians react and help in this case. #BringBackOurGirls lasted for quite some time and engaged community worldwide but with no noticeable result.
What are the Limits of Social Media Activism
Awareness is a great step in the right direction, but it should never be confused with the action. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s simply – don’t just share the post and feel great and smart about that, go and do something about it. Your RT won’t count unless you go to those protests that have been taking place every once in a while. A great revolutionary walk is still something that can make a difference. If you don’t believe me, why don’t you check the last protest that took place in Moscow? The teenage girl was reading the constitution in front of Putin’s riot and became the symbol of resistance. The image has gone viral, being shared for who knows how many times.
Be like Olga, don’t just share – act!
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