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Hashtag Activism: Impactful or just another social media trend?

While online activism isn’t a new thing on the block, and the internet is a powerful platform for advocacy, yet is it solely enough to bring about change?

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Social media platforms have become an enormous part of our lives. It can be an incredible tool for promoting social change and engaging with online movements. However, for real change, we need to dig deeper and go further than social media platforms and binge-posting.

The problem with social media platforms and activism is that it can very easily become about the person who posted, or the image they are trying to present rather than the actual cause itself. Sometimes things are seen as ‘trends’ and as soon as the ‘trend dies down’ the world seems to forget about the cause. ACTIVISM IS NOT A SOCIAL MEDIA TREND IT IS DEEPER THAN THAT.

Yemen is still fighting a humanitarian crisis, Black Americans are still being arrested, targeted and killed by the police, Bangladeshi workers are not getting paid enough, Uyghur Muslims are tortured in concentration camps, there’s still apartheid in Palestine, Syrians are dropped bombs on frequently, Kashmir is still under the siege. There is so much going on in the world that we should not take a blind eye!

Amna Maryam – ZIPit

Sometime’s, partaking in a ‘trend’ isn’t sufficient enough. A great example of this is the BLM Black Out Tuesday. How many people spent the time to educate themselves and sign petitions? Though a lot of us posted a blackout post and deleted it the next day because it didn’t fit our Instagram ‘aesthetic’? But how many people posted information and actually donated to the cause?

TRENDS ARE NEVER ENOUGH:  The Racist Relatives we don’t interact with aren’t watching our Instagram stories, those Neighbours who omit out bigotry aren’t on Twitter. Most of them don’t see the Social Media posts but watch mainstream media – and this unawareness isn’t their fault, their set of ideas are a reflection of the life they have lived and exposure they have received, they believe what they see/hear around. And holding everyone around to the same standard of wokeness is immature, this may make one feel smart, but it won’t create the intended change.

IT’S TIME TO HAVE UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS: To sit down with our parents or relatives and talk about Privilege. To ask that neighbour/friend who had cast his vote on communal grounds, Why? Share an alternative perspective. Your perspective. Of what you believe, and why is it important to think that way. This is the hard option, but these people aren’t lost causes either. Even bigots and racists have the potential to change, they deserve HELP, not HATE. This is what Advocacy means going beyond having conversations with people who already agree with you. However, cutting off from people who don’t agree with the liberal views isn’t an option if we desire for change. Wokeness isn’t helpful if it diminishes those who are unaware or misinformed, we are all imperfect, but growing. Unfollowing, unfriending or blocking everyone who disagrees with equality for underprivileged will create an unimportant distance from the understanding of the cause.

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UNDERSTANDING THE MINDSET: In most cases, it comes down to a lack of empathy. When a seIf-centred person isn’t affected by a problem, they have trouble understanding why anyone else would care about it. They have trouble imagining being hurt by it, and they have trouble putting themselves in another’s shoes. Waking up their conscience is no doubt difficult but engaging with them through something that interests them and framing the ideas in the language they understand – has scope.

CHOICE OF WORDS: Starting on them with heavy political acronyms is definitely not a good idea, though it’s important to talk about all those vital concepts but without striking vocabulary missiles. It may be uncomfortable to let go of the words, but as a patient teacher, getting on the level of the student is the right track. Life isn’t a cake-walk for anyone, conversations about how life has been hard on them and throwing light on the fact that their faith, colour, and ethnicity has never been the reason for their problems. And that everyone’s life and livelihood should be protected and all humans deserve basic human rights but how some people are unjustly being deprived of those rights and discriminated in almost every sector of the system.

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THESE CONVERSATIONS MAY BE SHORT: That person might turn away and not want to continue or they might walk out of the room, they might look like they don’t care. That’s ok because they still heard the word. Getting angry, following them, or continuing with the subject matter when they have shown they are disinterested – has negative effects. Patience just like, being a teacher of teenagers – difficult and mostly dissatisfying, but as long as there’s respect of ideas and clear language, slowly but surely there is a hope to get through their shell.

RESPECT IS KEY: Respect for the partner in conversation, in any case, shouldn’t be motivated by our desire for change, but a basic etiquette to consider universally. Telling somebody that they are wrong, even if they are will never get them to listen to the word, a person naturally considers the point when it‘s justified by real-life examples.

Activism in the Social Media Age | Pew Research Center
Representative Image (Credit: Pew Research Center)

Healthy discussions with people we know is worthwhile, and it is achievable! Humans are powerful and capable of change, even though we can be stubborn about it. No matter what, a good teacher believes in his/her student’s ability to learn and grow. Being kind and proud of them often leads to achieving a wonderful job done.

But unlike the social media trends i.e similar to the posters of an event – the purpose of ringing a bell for notifying people about the subject(event), wherein everything depends on the arrangement, management, and participation to make that event a successful one.

We need to educate ourselves and challenge the core concepts to bring about a positive change on the ground level. There needs to be an active change beyond social media platforms! Let’s educate and challenge ourselves. Let’s make a real change! Activism isn’t a monthly trend.

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  1. […] Hashtag Activism: Impactful Or Just Another Social Media Trend? […]

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