Social Media Activism
6 questions I ask myself before sharing anything
The desire to participate at any cost is dangerous, so be well informed and well equipped rather than just well-meaning.
When advocating on behalf of any community to which we don’t belong, we must be honest with ourselves and strategic in our efforts, especially within the context of social media. If you’re neither willing nor ready to champion a cause offline — where it’s less convenient and more consequential — your social media activism may discourage more than inspire.
With lives and our collective well-being on the line, I ask the following before sharing anything:
1. Do I understand the mission and call-to-action of this community?
Understand why people are speaking up and what people want to change. Do some research until you know the overall mission and specific calls-to-action.
2. Are there any leaders or organizations rooted in this community whose work I can amplify?
Once you have identified a community-based leader or organization fighting against injustice, see how you can amplify their efforts. Most leaders and organizations will have websites and social media accounts informing and directing those who wish to help.
3. Do my efforts align with a call-to-action and guidance set forth by the community?
In the case of collective efforts, staying on message is vital. Consistency and repetition make information more powerful and more memorable. If you plan to deviate from the main message or reinterpret someone else’s content, take care that your messaging still supports the community’s mission and requests.
4. Is my content free from violence?
Visuals and audio depicting violence inflict trauma and contribute to desensitization. Please respect other people’s privacy and avoid sharing someone’s moment of suffering. We are way past the point of demanding proof that injustice is real and happening every day.
5. Why do I want to share this?
It’s easy to let personal desires for attention, praise, or comfort drive our social media engagement. But activism is about centering a cause, not ourselves. Avoid self-promotion, seeking praise for your knowledge and efforts, or seeking comfort for your emotions. (If you need emotional support, please reach out to close friends and family privately.) Remember, the goal is to champion collective efforts through resource distribution and strategic campaigning that drives a specific call-to-action, inspires new allies, and motivates offline activism.
6. Am I prepared to manage potential opposition?
Plan how you will address the pushback or opposition your content and engagement may incite. How you respond matters and should align with the intention, tone, and mission of the community you seek to support. Avoid engaging if there’s no mutual respect or the goal on either side becomes “winning” or making someone else feel stupid.