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Social Media Activism Is Great, But It Isn't Always The Solution

Just because it feels good, it doesn't make it right.

Cover image via Jcomp/Freepik

If you clicked on this article, you might be thinking "Ooh what can I do?" or "Alright what does this smarta** have to say?"

Either way, I hope you can hear me out.

If you're on social media often enough, you've probably been bombarded with online activism at some point.

Rants on Twitter about the recent former Miss Universe Malaysia controversy and petitions to save turtles all may have good intentions.

But do they really make a difference if they don't result in tangible change?

Image via ResearchGate

Don't get me wrong. I love a good rant every now and then.

In fact, therapists might even tell you "ranting" is cathartic as long as it's done in a healthy manner.

And while spreading awareness is great, there are also practical ways you can make a difference

1. When dealing with social media controversy – "XX person makes an ignorant statement" that sparks outrage

The most recent example revolves around comments made by a former Miss Universe Malaysia regarding #BlackLivesMatter protests that sprung up following the death of George Floyd – an unarmed black man who had suffocated to death after being pinned down by the neck by a white police officer.

Instances of online hate speech can be really tough to deal with, especially considering how quickly information (or misinformation) spreads. In this case, it's best to let the respective social media platforms take care of it.

You can do your part by flagging and/or reporting posts that perpetuate racial discrimination.

Because let's be honest, as long as the post continues to stay up, it can embolden like-minded people to spread the hate even further.

2. Online petitions that don't offer any call to action

Image via Starecat

The effectiveness of online petitions has long been a topic of debate. While signing a petition and becoming "part" of a cause does make us feel good to a certain extent, your online signature can only do so much.

If a petition garners enough public attention, it can even make its rounds through the media. And if you're lucky enough, it might just catch the eyes of the right people; those who can spur additional action like fundraising or political lobbying.

Unfortunately, many online petitions are mere placeholders for our conscience and have little to no (positive) impact on the respective cause.

Instead, you can look out for petitions that offer various ways to take real action. This can range from donations to providing volunteer services to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). 

While social media activism is just a tool, it's important that we remember what we're fighting for, as opposed to becoming one giant cloud of white noise

After all, being 'woke' isn't justified unless we take action. And just because it feels good, it doesn't necessarily make it right.

This story is the personal opinion of the writer. You too can submit a story as a SAYS reader by emailing us at [email protected]

Here are other practical ways you can help the community during this time:

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