I am an activist, but what does it mean to be a modern activist? When people picture an activist, they tend to picture someone with a megaphone handing out petitions, marching in the streets, and chaining themselves to anything and everything. However, if I put the word "modern" in front of "activist," the image is quite different. It is of someone sitting behind their laptop, getting in fights in the comments section for every political article they read, someone who is on Tumblr 24/7; it is someone who has a lot of opinions but very little real-life action.
While there are some people who fit into that stereotype of a modern activist, they are not the future of activism.
When I think of the future of activism, I think of mixing the benefits of our virtual world with the successful activist practices of years past. One example of successful modern activism took place right here in Columbia, Mo.; Jonathan Butler and Concerned Student 1950. Butler invoked the old activist tactic of going on a hunger strike to protest the racism happening on the University of Missouri's campus and the lack of willingness from System President Tim Wolfe to create reform on campus to combat the racist climate.
Butler also maintained a social media presence during his hunger strike, which showed the power of the modern-day technology we have at our disposal for activism. Butler and the other members of Concerned Student 1950 and its supporters made what would have been in years past an issue just on one college's campus a national trending topic on both social and traditional media.
Modern activism is at its most powerful when it takes tactics from activism of old and mixes them with the powerful, global platform of social media. A true modern activist is someone who posts about the issues that matter to them on their social media platforms but also goes out and makes sure those changes happen. A modern activist knows how to use the amazing power of technology at their fingertips to create change for the better. A modern activist is vocal not only online but in their communities. A modern activist doesn't just use the Internet to complain about politics; they actually get out and vote.
Get the image of the lazy armchair activist out of your head. Just because activism may look different now, that does not mean change is not being made. Change may now come with a hashtag, but that does not make it any less real or valuable.