Clicktivism is not Activism

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Photo by Photo used with permission of www.thebluediamondgallery.com

We believe that in order to encourage change in our society we need to be active in our efforts in real life rather than through a technological medium.

Parul Pari and Caroline Sun

 The Bear Facts staff believes…

With social media and technology, our generation is constantly exposed to tragedy around the world long before we even know the definition of tragedy. Overexposure to global issues through news and media has caused our generation to mature at an earlier age, which we believe has both positive effects and negative consequences. However, in the end, despite the awareness that social media can raise, the only way to actually make an impact is through real-world activism. 

Clicktivism= the practice of supporting a political or social cause via the Internet by means such as social media or online petitions, typically characterized as involving little effort or commitment”

One one hand, we are able to stay more up-to-date with worldwide events, therefore we have a better grasp on the reality of the world, and what it means for our future. With the truth of the world at our hands, we are more well informed and knowledgeable at a younger age than any generation that came prior. When it comes to wanting to create a change, we feel that our generation has more tools to do so because of our constant connection to the rest of the world. 

On the other hand, this overexposure has its consequences. Since we are constantly bombarded by tragedy and disaster, it becomes difficult to keep track of all that is going on. We are constantly flooded with information about new campaigns for global warming, for poverty, for homelessness, and although these are all serious issues that do need to be dealt with, the over-saturation of the relief efforts has watered down our generation’s desire to take action. We see the problems that are occurring in our world and simply scroll past the topic because we, as teenagers, don’t have as much power to take action. 

Our generation is also subjected to a lot of bottled-up frustration over the older generation’s indifference to these problems. As high schoolers, there is a feeling of helplessness that comes to exposure: we want to help out with these causes, but we are minors without all the rights that adults have and therefore, we don’t have as much opportunity to go out there and do the change that we see fit. This leaves teenagers to assume that they can take action through social media platforms like Instagram or Snapchat simply by reposting an image and assuming that it will create “awareness”. Yet after millions of people share a post, but no one actually does anything about the problem, the intention behind posting comes across as insincere. Although putting the message out there can have some effect, it is not comparable to the significant impact that actual real-world activism has. Social media activism is also a factor that discourages people from actually taking steps toward real activism because people feel like they have done their part. 

So although we as teenagers are not able to make as much of a difference as adults may, we are still a generation that has grown up educated and worldly. We have read books about people like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai, speaking out for their causes and making a difference in the world, and these are stories that should inspire us to do what we can as well. Although we cannot all be like them, we can still play a part in real-world activism. Sharing a post about the environment may be able to help spread the word to your followers, but going to Cuba Marsh on a Saturday and helping clear out an invasive species will actually make an impact. Liking a picture that champions LGBT rights is one step in the right direction, but joining LZ Spectrum making plans to participate in a parade will do more for the cause. We have the power to make our voices heard, as seen in the gun violence school walkouts. We have the power to help raise thousands of dollars for causes we believe in, as seen in our annual Charity Bash fundraisers. We as a generation have been raised to advocate for what we believe is right, and there is no better way to break free of compassion-fatigue than by going out into the world and helping fight for the causes we see on social media.