This week, we discussed the topic of social media activism and were asked to explain whether we think it can be meaningful and worthwhile. Personally, I have mixed feelings about it. In today’s digital world, social media has changed the way in which people communicate, obtain information, and are informed about current events taking place in our world. Moreover, social media has the power to spread information quickly and connect people with similar interests/world views.
So, when I think about whether social media activism is effective, I would like to say yes and no. Yes, because “we’re connected more by the internet than by a personal relationship or geography”. Activist rely on social media in order to connect, organize, and raise awareness in hopes to create a movement or affect change within our world. Social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter create platforms for activists to successfully spread their messages. Without the use of social media, it would be very difficult for activists to reach out to society. For instance, I once participated in the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. I was nominated by a Facebook friend to dump a bucket of ice cold water over my head and donate money in support to ALS. I was also encouraged to challenge more of my Facebook friends in hopes to raise even more money. I accepted this challenge and donated to the organization. However, how can we be sure the nominees participating in these challenges are responsible citizens and have actually contributed funds for research? Or, are they simply sharing to social media without the intent to financially support these organizations?
Then, I started to think about the idea of slacktivism and how it effects social media activism negatively. Tayler mentions in her blog how “It’s become very common to simply comment or share a post of a genuine cause and believe we are helping when in reality it is achieving nothing but a trending hashtag”. Well said, Tayler! I couldn’t agree with you more! Hashtags represent specific things on twitter, but they are not a movement. Typing a hashtag and then putting down your cell phone is not being productive. In Katia Hildebrant’s blog, she argues “I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act”. After reading this, I began to think about myself and the way I use social media. Clearly, there is much more I could be doing for society, rather than just scrolling my Facebook wall and Twitter feed. Perhaps I need to be more proactive about the many social inequities and justice issues that are currently taking place within our society and offer my support, as a participatory citizen.
As an educator, I am responsible for modelling the actions of a responsible citizen to my students. It is essential to provide my students with the opportunity to investigate examples of social inequities and justice issues, so they may learn how to be responsible participatory citizens. Moreover, by exploring examples of social media activism and social justice, students can examine the many ways in which they can reach out and contribute to society. On that note, what are some of the ways you could explore social media activism and social justice issues with your students? What sources would you use within your classroom?
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