Social media has become a big part of our daily lives. Having access to apps in the palms of our hands,many of us tend to scroll for a large chunk of our day. Social media definitely has some advantages such as connecting with others and learning new subjects. However, it can also have some disadvantages like fake information being shared like wildfire. With the ability to share and educate others online comes activists who want to make a change. How does activism fit into social media? Does it work? Who should be using it?
Activism is a way to make change of a social issue or a problem. There are any ways to become an activist such as educating others, raising funds, raising awareness, protesting, making petitions, writing letters, and even simply speaking up. With the never ending growth of social media, it can be easy to just tweet about an article that was read, or retweet a petition. Any news that is shared has the ability to be seen. This can be good, but it can also have negative effects.
The Great Parts of Social Media Activism
#1- learning about important social issues-As someone who grew up in a very small town, I wasn’t as exposed to many social issues outside of my area as I should have been. My teenage years were not spent on social media since I grew up when technology wasn’t very big. I feel like I didn’t know enough about activism or social issues until I moved to the city for University. A lot of my opinions and thoughts have changed drasticially. I learned so much more once I left my small town and once I joined social media. Nowadays, I am able to keep learning and using social media now that I have a good base of knowledge for many social issues. I always wonder what would have changed if I had access to important topics that I now see and teach my students in middle school that I should have seen at their age.
#2- being able to educate others and spread awareness easier- If I would have had access to what many activists are sharing on social media earlier in my life, I think I would have had a better view of the world at a younger age. Now as a teacher, I find it important to expose children to important issues at an appropriate age so that they can make opinions for themselves. I also know that many people read and learn of news and issues using social media, so it is a great space to share. Activists are able to reach more people by sharing articles, tweeting their thoughts, and even making videos. “Because of the accessibility of social media and its participatory nature, the internet has become a powerhouse when it comes to raising awareness about political and social issus”. I have recently followed some social media activists and I find am able to learn from them and then share the ideas with my students.
#3- Connecting to other activists- Social media has given us the power to connect with people all over the world. Being able to find people who are the same opinions, and same will to make change of a certain social issue can be lifesaving. Regina is a pretty small city (not to me who grew up in a small town), but I still believe that it can be difficult to find enough people with a drive to make change of a certain problem. Activists all over the world can connect, share ideas, and make change in their own part of the globe.
The Not So Great Parts of Social Media Activism
#1- The information shared isn’t alway reliable- With many social media apps, users, and stories, how are we supposed to know what is real and what is fake information? After going through a pandemic, I was really able to tell how much information is shared and how we need to be very careful of our sources. When it comes to activism, we need to do the same. As activists of a specific topic, we need to make sure that what we are research is real information. That way, we don’t continue sharing incorrect news. For many readers, there are some gullible people that believe anything that they read. As readers, we need to make sure the news we read is real before we start sharing the information around.
#2- You may only see one sided opinions- Social media is designed so that you see only what interests you. Articles, people to follow, and even ads usei an algorithm that allows you to only see what you want to see. This means that activists that share information will be designed for you to see more of a specific topic. If you want to learn of an issue or see the other side, it can be difficult. Reading this post, I found this quote to be accurate of today’s society “We tend to only communicate with people that we agree with, and thanks to social media, we can mute, un-follow and block everybody else”. Some people fall into a rabbit hole of only seeing what they believe in. This means that they will have a very one sides opinion on the problem. As an activist, it is very hard to reach people that are able to follow, and like only pages that they agree with.
#3- Social media only goes so far– Adding to the last point, it can be hard to reach people who don’t want to open up to the other side of certain topics. Social media is a way to take action, to inform, and to share articles. But, the word activism is a derivative of the words action and active. Is simply tweeting and sharing online about a world problem enough? Many activists do go out and make change such as protests, writing letters and educating others in person. However, a lot of sharing happens on social media and it is important that what is done on social media also exists outside of a computer screen. Like is it pointed out in this article, some social media users tend to only do things to gain a following. Yes, that sometimes means becoming an activist for a problem only to be seen. However, it’s important to take a stand for an issue, not only when it’s trending, but every single day.
Social Media Activism as an Educator
Being an educator has broadened my views on many social issues. Working with so many children who have different lives and voices makes me happy to have the chance to teach, discuss, and learn from them. I find that I have learned a lot from social media by following teachers who are activists. However, as a teacher, I am still uncomfortable with some parts of social media activism.
As someone who isn’t a big sharer on social media, I am still not used to tweeting or sharing articles. I still worry about saying something incorrect. Social media and the internet are a bit troublesome, knowing that anything that is online cannot be erased easily. Even though I probably have nothing to worry about, I am still pretty early into my career and I am simply not used to sharing much since we are taught to keep very private as teachers.
I do know that my job is to be an activist for important issues and to educate my students. Reading this post, I agree that educators should activists, but I am still just learning how to do so on social media. At the moment, I am trying bit by bit to be less silent online. Like Katia explains ” Silence speaks louder than words” and ” We have a responsibility to risk our privilege to give voice to those who have no privilege to risk”. Social media activism is a great start to making change if it is done correctly. However, it is still important to get out and take action offline!
How do you feel using social media for activism? How do you take a step forward to start being less silent online?
One thought on “Social Media Activism”
Great post! TO be honest, I am not entirely sure how I feel about social media activism. One side of me thinks that it’s great, and people with platforms and popularity can use it to do the right thing. On the other side of it, people with popularity can also spread misinformation really fast. For example, I remember a few years ago when a few celebrities came out with statements that vaccines caused autism, and boy did that take off. I know I am not a scientist, but neither are they, yet their popularity let this information spread faster than any scientist could have either defended or supported these statements. So with power comes an obligation to be better, to ensure that we are being good people and standing up for people who can’t. But with that, there are also many different definitions of what it looks like to be a good person. So I am conflicted. Do I think it can be powerful and moving? Yup. But I also think there is an ugly side to it too that too often gets more attention.