Editorial: Activism stuck in social media


editorial cartoon by Molly Zatman

A seemingly increasing number of students are posting on social media to raise awareness for causes they care about, but that is not enough to be an activist.

In today’s day and age, there are more social movements than can be counted on two hands, including the #MeToo movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the feminist movement, the environmental movement and so many more. And while all of these movements are important causes that deserve attention and action, many teenagers are supporting them in the wrong way.

Both marches and social media are a popular way to demonstrate support for a cause. Teenagers show their involvement in a multitude of ways including going to march with a group of friends and reposting an image or video on Instagram or Snapchat stories about a particular movement.

But many teenagers see attending one march or reposting one image or video as enough, as the peek and the completion of their involvement in activism. We must, however, not let this continue to be the norm.

In the 21st century, we have grown up surrounded by progress, acceptance and action. But this has caused teenagers to care about a myriad of issues, instead of finding and pursuing one cause about which they are passionate.

Nowadays, people post, march and talk about more than one social movement as an easy route when they should be committing their full attention to one cause for which they can become a strong, effective activist.

For example, following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fl., many students showed their sympathy through attending the March for Our Lives rally and keeping up to date with the news coverage of the shooting survivors. The media put the gun violence movement on display for millions of watching eyes.

After a while, the attention dwindled and many people who once considered themselves part of the movement stopped advocating for change and speaking out. People moved on to the next issue that hit the media and left the gun violence movement behind. The issue pops back up again every time there is a mass shooting and then is, once again, forgotten.

We must end this cycle. We cannot continue to act like children in a toy store and only care about the newest, shiniest object in our line of sight.

The top priority for teens today should be to find a cause you are passionate about. While it is important to care about more than one thing, focusing on too many social movements detracts from the impact you can have as it divides your attention and spreads your energy to act too thin.

After finding that cause, you must first arm yourself with the facts. With modern-day technology, searching for background and information is very straightforward, but it is also very easy to falsify facts. You must, therefore, be careful when finding sources from which you learn.

Once you are more educated, you can then lobby, post and march because you can make informed decisions about and then contribute to the particular movement you have chosen.

This story was featured in the Volume 37, Issue 3 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on November 21, 2019.