Social Activism… What’s That?

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This week my class was tasked with diving a little but into social activism, questioning if it could be meaningful and productive online. For those of you who may be a little unsure what exactly social activism is, it’s intentional actions with the goal of bringing about social change. Basically any cause you feel strongly about, and participate in some way to bring change for that cause-  you are being a social activist.

How can you be a social activist online, you ask? Well let me bring you up to speed. Unless you have hidden yourself away from any form of social media for the last year, you have probably heard of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This is a social activist movement. Activists use this hashtag throughout social media to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter cause. By using this hashtag on posts, articles, videos, etc. they are spreading their hashtag, causing people to see this hashtag and likely explore it further. There are tons of other examples, like the #idlenomore movement, or #notmypresident. 

Not only cause people use hashtags to be social activists, but simply by raising awareness of causes by turning it loose to the people of the internet and letting it be spread world wide. I remember in my grade 12 year  “Kony 2012” was a huge thing. It was all anybody was sharing on Facebook and it quickly spread throughout school. Our school actually ended up doing a fundraiser to send funds the the organization. So if you were to ask me if I think social activism can actually be productive; I would say yes. However, I think that this is not the case with every situation. I know of many individuals who posted a video for the ALS ice bucket challenge, but didn’t donate (which was the entire point of the video…) So while the videos spread throughout the internet and were definitely viewed by thousands of people, how many of those individuals actually donated money to the cause? 

This is where the idea of “Slacktivism” comes into play. Basically slacktivism means that instead of actually doing an action for a cause, we are slacking and think we are making a change by simply tossing a hashtag on the end of our posts. So while I agree that social media can definitely be used to raise awareness for cause, I think it is not always the best course of action.  

How much are we actually doing when we share a post online? Is putting a hashtag at the end of our tweet enough? Just something to think about!

I would love to hear your thoughts on social activism!

– S


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