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The Importance of Internet Activism

Activism through social media has given a voice to many around the world.

by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Writer

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To me, there are very few things more infuriating than being talked down to or having my opinions deemed invalid. Especially by adults. Being involved in activism, especially in this political climate, means this is happening all the time. It can get frustrating being told I need to sit down and let the adults talk. Considering the fact that people my age will be voting in the next presidential election, it is borderline nonsensical to not encourage us to form opinions. However, that’s a separate issue. Right now, I want to talk about how this frustration has been alleviated in part due to the beauty of activism on the Internet.

Along with the news apps I have on my phone, I gain a lot of my information from various social media sites dedicated to social activism around the world. Of course, I always double check the facts with an outside source, but often, I have found it to be the best way for me to get a quick glance at some very large issues. Social media has been an incredible help in defining, articulating and fighting against certain issues I have been facing in a way that is accessible for all. It has offered a voice to those who otherwise may not have one.

Throughout history, activism has had a long history of exclusion. Whether it be the racism and ableism of early feminism or the prioritization of men in the civil rights era, it was easy to feel overlooked or disregarded. Even now, protests such as the Women’s March are not an option for everyone. For some, it may be location, like many who live in areas where their views are not supported or may not be able to afford traveling to a nearby protest. Many other women with disabilities have aspects of their life that make a “march” virtually impossible. For others, their identity may make them feel unsafe to be their true selves and they may be hesitant to show themselves in public in a way that can get them harmed or ostracized by their peers. For those with access to any form of smart technology, this takes away the fear, inaccessibility and stress that may come with going to a real-life protest.

It has also given the younger population a way to express their views in a space where we are not invalidated or silenced by those older than us. There are a very large number of pages ran by teen activists, some with follower counts in the millions. Instagram pages, twitter accounts or blogs (like this one!), have given way to a wave of teens and young adults striving to make a difference, in a way that may not have been possible that long ago. It is easy to feel overpowered or that your opinion is not important in a space full of adults, but when that space is run by other people your age, it is much more possible to have a positive, supportive discourse, and be exposed to so many other perspectives outside of your own.

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