Advocate for Reform
While it is a bit cliché, there is much truth in the sentiment ‘power in numbers’. Social media is a great place for building public awareness campaigns on social justice issues. Encourage your friends and followers to sign a petition, donate funds, or even just educate them on a cause. In recent years Twitter has become just as closely associated with memes as tear gas. Depending on how you identify, the word hashtag now holds a nefarious connotation, many Americans live in fear of becoming one. Social media activism is often positioned as ‘performance activism’ from ‘social justice warriors’ looking to be a ‘special snowflake’ online. The clickbait activist narrative assumes that those who connect online are only engaging in digital actions, and that the world of the internet is somehow less real and disconnected from the offline world. After 10 years in online activism, I’d argue that I exist online just as much as I do offline. I’d also argue that simple acts of societal defiance like tweeting under a repressive regime or acts of reclaiming identity like changing your name and pronouns on Facebook are brave and difficult actions. I wrote my book SLACKTIVIST: Using Digital Media to Create Change because in 2017 there is no doubting that social media holds incredible power. When we leverage our networks we have the ability to change the world.
Hold Those With Power Accountable
Social media gives us direct access to legislators, celebrities and influential stakeholders. It also makes public outrage accessible to audiences around the world. Even people only distantly aware of United States culture know that we’re in a place of rigorous debate on social issues. One of the great powers of the internet is the ability to @ mention those of influence, screenshot quotes, and repost articles with our own commentary.
Attract Media Attention
The Internet is a place of amplification. We have the ability to DM a lead to a journalist, submit video to influencers and post a counter narrative to corporate or state run media. Those with power are no longer the gatekeepers of information. Young people have a reluctance to engage in traditional forms of political discourse because of the belief that they are at best ineffective or at worst corrupt. But using independent media in the form of blogs and YouTube channels allows us to redraft the script and write a new politic in our own image.
Interested in learning the nuts and bolts of change making? Check out SLACKTIVIST: Using Digital Media to Create Change available on June 1, 2017.