Social Media Activism Isn't Sustainable
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Politics and Activism

Social Media Activism Isn't Sustainable

Even now, social media activism has clearly been dying down.

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Social Media Activism Isn't Sustainable
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Following George Floyd's death, many took to their social media as an attempt to spread awareness and encourage action. Social media was filled with Twitter threads explaining current events and infographics being shared on Instagram stories. While the sudden surge in social media activism wasn't necessarily a bad thing, this brand of activism has proven to be unsustainable in the long term.

This is not to say that spreading some information through social media isn't effective at all. Using social media is certainly effective in getting people's attention, and those who have a large platform can definitely use social media to help direct their followers to useful resources or places to donate.

The issue lies in the way information is often presented on social media. The Instagram infographics, especially, are definitely a quicker and more digestible way to get information, but many social media users won't move beyond these infographics. The issue with only getting information from social media is that these infographics or Twitter threads simply can't replace more long-form resources such as books or essays, especially considering that infographics are usually made to be less text-heavy.

Many users who create infographics also include their own analysis of their sources in their work. This is a problem when their personal analysis is presented as fact in the infographic. Of course, there are plenty of good infographics -- I've shared some that I liked on my own social media -- and it's great that people can be exposed to different viewpoints through social media. However, people should still be encouraged to do their own research and reading and form some of their own analysis. The infographics are too often treated as complete fact or a comprehensive source of information when they're really only effective as a starting point.

Another issue with social media activism is the constant guilt-tripping or shaming that accompanies some of the posts being shared. So many of the posts that I've seen on my friend's social media are accompanied by captions or titles like "Why is no one talking about this?" or "Don't scroll past this." While I can understand the intention behind these types of captions, they often have the effect of making the person who sees the post feel "guilty" for not speaking on that specific issue. While people might repost the original post or briefly talk about the subject, getting people to "talk" about something in this way only works in the short term. Once people don't feel that initial guilt anymore, they don't necessarily feel any incentive to keep talking about these issues.

Social media can absolutely be useful for activists, but we can't treat social media activism as the pinnacle of activism. Even now, social media activism has clearly been dying down. The fact is that the infographics and Twitter threads are just a starting point for information, but they are in no way a sustainable form of activism. Activism needs to extend outside of social media in sustainable efforts, such as incorporating social justice into your education or joining an organization. Of course, not everyone will have to means to consistently donate money or attend protests, but that doesn't mean that social media is the only option or the best option.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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