In an era of both social distancing and intense political and social turmoil, it’s extremely difficult to continue individual activism. However, this year, it is more important than ever to voice your opinions and show your representatives what you care about. As fall 2020 continues to approach us, virtual activism is something that is needed to ensure that your representatives are truly going to be able to represent you.
First, I want to preface this article with some reasons why you should be involved with the democratic process. Choosing to be apolitical is something that is a personal choice, but please evaluate what is going on around you and the social climate of the United States. Choosing to be apolitical in times of political and moral turmoil is and of itself a political act that is rooted in privilege. While you might not be hurt by the decisions that a representative makes, your next-door neighbor could be, an individual in the city next to you could be, a citizen who lives across the nation could be – your active decision to be complacent with the status quo is always going to have an effect on at least one person. Please speak up. Please use your vote to protect yourself, and if not for you, to protect others.
So, what are some tips you can use to aid your online advocacy efforts? To answer this question, we need to think about the target audience – if you are advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s not going to be very helpful to continue telling supporters of the movement about why they should support it. The best way to engage more individuals is finding people who aren’t already supporters or who don’t know much about the effort. Black people do not need reminders that Black lives matter – the way you advance the movement is to target your posts towards people that need to see it.
Post – in any case, a post, even if it is just a simple repost to your story, does some good. It provides a way to educate others and yourself about the issues going on. However, take a step further here! Optimize your posts by using hashtags that are geared towards your desired target audience. So, if you are posting about BLM, consider using hashtags that the oppressor would use to flood their feed with information to educate them.
Be prepared for backlash. However, remember that engaging with those comments and trolls online is not worth your energy – if they say your post, you’ve fulfilled your goal.
Remember to give a warning when posting graphic content! This is extremely important – circulation of images of graphic content is another form of oppression, as it leads to desensitization and normalization of those images. Make sure you’re not feeding into the tactics of the oppressor and add content warnings.
Engage. Use your social media to find more information, to ask questions, to continue learning. Find posts that spark broader discussions about issues and use that newly-learned information to inform others around you.
Written by Ashley, District 14