Activism without being Physically Active
There is a lot of value in digital activism that many times is overlooked because of the stigma of slacktivism. One specific value that I have noticed while reading the articles this week is about communication. In the perspective of communication, Digital activism plays a vital role in social movements, resistance and activism. With the large scale that many social movements are, social media is an easy way for all people to be on the same page (Journal of Digital Social Research). This can be seen in many different recent examples from the George Floyd protests world wide. They start locally and videos and images were posted on social media, which spread to other cities in the United States, then even further internationally. None of this could have happened without the communication and posting on social media. This is absolutely a value of digital activism because it bought a current topic to a worldwide scale.
Another positive of digital activism is sharing of information to be successful with in person activism. In The New Yorker article, Jane Hu writes “Protest guides, generated from years of on-the-ground activist experience, are readily shared over Twitter and Instagram, telling readers how to blur faces in photographs or aid in de-arrests.” This is allowing those who are either physically distant, or don’t feel comfortable being involved in person the option to continue to share information on how to keep others safe. This can go on to include sharing funding options, phone numbers or other resources. Without the sharing of this on social media, those who are participating may not be on the same page about safety. In every protest situation, the safety of those involved is a top priority and the digital activism is giving everyone the option to learn and understand how to maintain that. This action can be useful for those who are just beginning in person activism, versus those who have been involved for years. As with any activity, the first time you do something will be a challenge and there will be things you don’t know. This follows the same for activism and the digital aspect is giving everyone an opportunity to learn.
The last value of digital activism that I think is very important is the ability to include many different people. Many times, the posts I see are from younger people who are passionate, but not sure where to go next. The digital aspect gives them a way to be involved even if their parents don’t allow them. One example of how digital activism has impacted the younger generation is with school walk outs. I have seen multiple examples both from my own high school, as well as schools nation wide where students are able to band together using Instagram or Snapchat stories. These students are not always able to be active in protests at a larger scale for a variety of reasons from parents, to not being able to drive. Digital activism has given them the opportunity to take control and create an action that they are able to partake in, which shows just how valuable digital activism can be.