How are teens using social media in their activism?
Teens are using social media because it is what they know and what, to some extent, belongs to them. During the Revolutionary War, people used newspapers and brochures to further their cause, but that has become an outdated format. Then people used radio to spread information during World War I and World War II in order to galvanize the people against injustice. With the advent of television, that too has become a method of movement. However, newspaper, radio, and television have now become controlled by large corporations who want to not only control what you say but also how you say it.
Corporations historically have built their success on the backs of the oppressed and the disenfranchised, but now the Internet is giving those people a voice. I know many of you have watched Fox News and have, hopefully, been disgusted by how they speak about women, immigrants, LGBTQIA+, and other groups. Those groups then went out and fought back through the Internet. How many of you would have known that Trump’s campaign manager had assaulted a female reporter without the Internet? How many of you would have then known that CNN went and hired that same man after he was fired from Trump’s inner circle?
Teens are using the Internet because it is a vast resource that allows them to connect with people from all walks of life who want to support the cause in any way they can. GoFundMe was a major resource for Kesha during her battle with Sony and Dr. Luke because loyal fans, sympathizers, and strangers alike sent money and kind messages to help her with the legal costs. Without teens and digital activism, none of that would have been possible.
How Effective is that Activism?
While I have heard many people speak derisively about “Tumblrinas” and how pointless Internet activism is, many of those same people mindlessly consume information from the major media corporations about the same issues. However, they fail to realize that the major media corporations spin the stories, ignore opposing viewpoints and conflicting information, and even outright lie at times because of their special interests. Major media corporations have become too concerned with what will up their ratings, what will keep their bosses in power, and what is the most “attention-grabbing” to be the unbiased fact-checkers they should be. Therefore, most of the time the naysayers are just regurgitating the negative things they have heard from the same people who would see their special interests harmed if Internet activism was respected as the effective tool that it is.
Have I Participated as a Digital Activist?
I have begun to build my repertoire as a digital activist within the past few years. I personally donated to the Kesha fund, do intense amounts of research about important issues to make sure that I know enough to speak knowledgeably about multiple topics, and try to keep up-to-date on current events and trending petitions on the Internet.
Key Issues to Consider
While the Internet is a great resource, it is important that you know how to use it correctly. Remember back in high school when your teachers taught you about reliable versus unreliable digital sources? Those skills come in handy when determining the relative validity of Internet information. Also, it is important to find out who is running the information you are looking at and whether or not the facts have been doctored to meet any special interests. Always look at the opposing viewpoint and cross-reference everything.