The Age of Digital Activism

The rise of social media in the past few years has created a space for people to voice their opinions on topics that they feel strongly about on any platform of their choice.

As events are happening around the world, people are able to spread awareness, share opinions and give their followers access to ways in which they can make a difference.

Instead of just platforms to share photos and even memes, Instagram and Twitter have become tools to create social movements and initiate meaningful change. 

Because of the wide variety of followers that most people have, and the potential to reach thousands of people with a single post, sharing important information about pertinent issues has become quite common.

One example of this that can still be seen online is the global movement to put an end to the climate crisis.

The popularity of the movement is fueled by the spread of information online.

Because the climate crisis directly affects every single person on the planet, it has become one of the largest social movements.

Fridays for Future, which were started by Greta Thunberg, have become a global sensation.

Each Friday, students from all over the world stand in solidarity as they protest for our leaders to begin making changes to fight the climate crisis. 

One of the best features of social media is the hashtag, which allows users to classify their tweets under a certain hashtag to make something known.

Some of the most prominent social movements of the last few years -- think #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter -- have had viral hashtags associated with them.

This tool allows people to quickly find online content connected to certain issues as well as let followers know their thoughts on a given issue. 

From organizing protests and events to spreading important information that people should know about on any topic, social media has become essential to the success of social movements.

Another example can be seen in March for Our Lives—a group of young people from across the country that are working to bring an end to gun violence.

Between stricter gun laws and the safety of students in their own schools, the use of social media has been crucial in the spread of information about this growing issue, as well as various ways to get involved.

Celebrities have gotten involved in the movement as well, and have helped raise awareness for the need to make changes within our country. 

Our generation isn’t stopping here, though.

In this new digital age we are now able to spread more information about how to get involved such as calling local representatives and organizing local events.

Because of this, people are actually following through with everything they advocate for. 

Leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, organizations on campus have already begun working to register people to vote and spread the word about how to get involved.

Here at UF, March for Our Lives has been registering people to vote in addition to helping people update their voter registration as a way to get more young people excited about the election.

Social media campaigns help spread the word about the events they’ve been holding and show just how far a single post can reach. 

There are some common critiques of using social media as a form of activism - such as that movements die off quickly and are only influential in the few moments when they are viral.

However, I strongly disagree with these misconceptions.

Even simply educating someone about an issue helps bring attention to it.

One of the best features of social media is that conversations about these complex issues occur very naturally and help people better understand the issue at hand. 

No matter what, the use of social media as a tool for activism in an effort to raise awareness for important issues is an admirable one.

Young people are more likely to respond to something that resonates deeply with them, and social media is a great way to make that happen.

All of our voices matter, and each of us has the power to make a change within our communities and the world.

The first step to doing that can be to make your voice heard, and we have quickly learned that social media is a great way to do this.