In the digital era, awareness of social and environmental injustices occurring in different places has become increasingly widespread. While often deemed a source of distraction and a place where disinformation proliferates, the internet and social media have also helped democratise access to information. But it is not all: those platforms also allow citizens from every corner of the world to engage with a social or environmental cause.

DIGITAL ACTIVISM

We already talked about how the LGBTQ+ and environmental movements both challenge the status quo and try to spark change. Still, they also have another feature in common: the digital eco those movements have on social media. In other words, digital activism generated about those issues. 

Digital activism entails collective actions that occur through digital devices and social networks. This kind of activism allows individuals to connect to a core cause but also has the power to create bonds between people at all levels of society and in multiple countries. 

Within a broader media ecology, social media amplifies political messages, increasing both individual and collective consciousness about a determinate cause. Those platforms are not simply used for communicating about a cause but also prove a useful tool for producing and spreading meaningful content as part of a broader struggle leading to social change through online and offline means (Treré and Kaun, 2021).

Activism on social media would then support people who were denied a voice to speak up and challenge the power structures in place while also developing a sense of belonging to a broader community. For example, digital activism is the means through which “in the face of a global problem, the environmental crisis is once again becoming part of the world’s political agendas” (Faro digital 2019). This bottom-up approach for bringing about social or political change is the very end goal of digital activism. 

Different layers of engagement

Before talking about climate change, racial injustice or discrimination linked with sexual orientation, we must nourish ourselves with data-based information and content grounded on evidence. While slacktivism has often been considered a shallow form of action for promoting social and political change, interaction with social media content can be regarded as the first step to gaining knowledge and awareness of a particular issue or showing outrage about injustice. 

Nigerian activist and researcher Alexa Chuckwumah takes a critical stand on digital activism, affirming in her Tedx performance that “our activism should not start and end on the internet.” In this sense, our digital intentions and deeper consciousness at a personal and collective level should coherently translate into concrete action brought about daily. 

Every action has an impact

We believe that being active for a cause on social media should not be denigrated as a marginal activity per definition, but can be the very first step for a broader project for achieving change. At the same time, you do not need to be a hero to start doing something for preserving our planet, the people, plants and animals or your rights. Choosing not to eat meat, planting a tree or moving around the city on a bike are simple yet radical acts of change you can do. 

Every action, whether realised online or offline, matters.

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Written by Alice Spada

Sources:

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