Posting on social media is not activism

Social activism does not equal social justice

Allie Wang, Editor-in-Chief

When I open Instagram, I am always hit with a barrage of boba pictures, funny bunny videos and The New York Times. It is very tempting to reshare the very first thing that pops up, often times a quote or an inspirational message. 

Sometimes, global events take over my entire feed. During social justice movements such as Stop AAPI Hate and Black Lives Matter, many posts that I saw highlighted the issues, seemingly spreading awareness. 

However, what good does it really do by merely copying and sharing an already trending message? I was guilty of thinking that the only way to get through the COVID-19 pandemic was to merely reshare a post without doing further research. Did I really feel great reposting something with a few links and forgetting about the issue within three months? 

Hate crimes at the end of October this year against Asian Americans in LA county rose by 76%. Where was the social media coverage then? 

The fashion company CHNGE uses their account to to uplift others and is also linked to the @feminist, @itsfeminism and @march Instagram pages. The page uses art, photos and other graphics from marginalized people for their Instagram, reposts them and then makes a profit from its large following and engagement, donating a share of the proceeds to charitable organizations.

However, CHNGE uses paid media shares, meaning that Instagram profits from both accounts. In one instance, CHNGE reached out to photographers after seeing their work in hopes of collaborating on a campaign highlighting LGBTQ couples within the Black community. When asked about compensation and a paid collaboration between the two, CHNGE didn’t respond.

It’s not that social media activism isn’t useful. Sharing a post could potentially help spread the word and encourage others. But, it can’t just be the sole solution to solving global challenges.

In a 2020 paper in the journal Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill professors Deen Freelon, Alice Marwick and Daniel Kreiss wrote that one objection to digital activism is that it can’t “substitute for more impactful actions such as voting or offline protest.”

There are much more effective ways to build social justice awareness, such as volunteering at a phone bank, attending protests or signing petitions. After all, the world is much more than likes and hashtags.

The following links are helpful ways to truly contribute:

https://www.socialworkdegree.net/social-justice-organizations/

https://socialjusticeresourcecenter.org/websites/volunteer-service/