An endless blur

Activism on social media is just confusing teens even more

With the development of social media, activists have learned how to spread valuable information through the various platforms. Throughout quarantine, social media use has been on the rise. Along with this, America has also seen a sudden increase in teenage advocacy known as “repost activism,” or  “slacktivism.” 

This new trend, consisting of thousands, or even millions of reposted images intended to invoke change, has managed to involve more teenagers than ever in social and political issues. 

As great as it is to see social media used for a notable cause, in the grand scheme of things, this new trend is actually slowing various social movements.

Every day, our social media pages are flooded with posts of activism. Yet, each week appears to bring a new issue with new posts. Just as we’re finally grasping and absorbing the information from one social issue, a new one arises, taking our minds off the old one. 

This cycle has been continuous throughout all of 2020 as new matters emerge and even at times, old ones return. However, this loop has proved to be ineffective at getting people to protests. In a study done by the Pew Research Center, 37% of adults admitted to sharing racial equality related content on a social networking platform, while as little as 6% of those adults actually attended a protest or rally and only 7% contacted a public official to express their opinion.

Additionally, according to a study by Michigan State University, “slacktivists” proved to actually be less generous with donations compared to those who didn’t. Also, those who signed petitions only showed an increased intent to sign future petitions, not to participate in protests or other civic actions.

Sure, social media has helped spread awareness to certain issues and causes. But to what extent has that awareness been effective? With no correlation to protestors or donations, slacktivism has proved to be a disservice to concrete activism and aid.

Without enough time and effort to fully digest fresh concerns, people are left to just forget and continue. This has led to social media posts degrading social issues rather than truly expose them. Although topics may see the spotlight for a solid week, they are never truly looked into and researched. There is truly no solidified change produced, doing nothing for these quandaries. Signing an online petition may produce feelings of animosity at the time, but in reality, there is no actual change until you put in the effort to do so.

Not everyone can be, or needs to be an activist… and that’s okay. It takes lots of time and effort put forward to fight for a noble cause and produce change. However, if you’re going to continue reposting for a new social issue each week, forgetting about past issues as each new one comes around, please stop. It’s not worth burdening your social media viewers with so many different issues in the world that they don’t have enough time to simply stop and look at one. 

If you want to be an activist, great, the world needs you. But please, pick one issue and stick with it. Dive deep down. Convince others to pursue it with you. Educate people in person, not with social media. Be the change yourself, don’t try to make social media do the change for you. And finally, most importantly, change the world… the right way.