Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Mental Health

Social Media Activism and the Problem of Ally Fatigue

In addition to the quarantine, the world has suffered a lot more - natural disasters, explosions, racial injustice and then some. If you’re one who spends a lot of time on the web, especially on social media, it’s impossible not to come across it. In one way, social media is a valuable tool to help spread the word on important causes and petitions. Websites such as Twitter have become a valued vehicle on the information superhighway that is the internet. However, is being surrounded by online news constantly a good thing?


I recently came across a term called “ally fatigue”. The term originated in a study conducted surrounding the disabled community and refers to the feeling of apathy or “giving up caring” about these causes. Of course, this is a ridiculous notion attempting to justify the absolute silence of some when it comes to raising awareness about certain matters. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that it can be overwhelming to be on the internet, whether an ally or not.


The relationship between social media activism and one’s mental health is a complicated one. One may feel guilty if they are not constantly sharing petitions and resources, but we also need to consider that having information on all the world’s issues available at your fingertips, at all times, is a lot for the human brain to deal with. Being aware of everything that is going on, all the time, can have a detrimental effect on one’s mental health. According to a study conducted in 2015 concerning this feeling of “burnout”, about 16% of the participants who experienced it associated aspects of their activism with a negative impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing and have thus distanced themselves from activist activities. However, the problem is that for many people, they simply cannot distance themselves from the issues at hand. For many, these issues are part of their lived reality and turning off the television or their phones is not a luxury they are afforded. So, it is important to help where possible. In some cases, the least you can do is just be informed.


Stopping the spread of the ally fatigue mentality is a difficult path to navigate, but not an impossible one. Personally, I think that integrating activism into one’s everyday lifestyle is a start. As Elly Belle, a writer for online news platform Greatist stated, the fatigue experienced does not mean that you should stop caring. Furthermore, there are other ways to support movements. In the case of Black Lives Matter, one could support black-owned businesses or support black mental health organisations. Christal Yuen suggests creating a moral Venn diagram concerning the issue and working it out from there. What is your definition of justice? What is the cause’s definition of justice? Where do they overlap? How can YOU do better to make sure that the circles overlap more? As I have stated in other articles, activism is dynamism and it is up to you to keep the momentum going.

Aman Adams is a third year Bachelor of Arts student triple majoring in English Language and Literature, Historical Studies and Media Studies. She enjoys reading, writing, cats and creating watercolour paintings.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️