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Creating change in the world can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to wonder, “I’m just one person, what effect can I have?” Not to mention that with COVID-19 still at large, it might not be prudent for everyone to join social outreach or protests in-person. But the answer is you have more power than you think, even from behind your computer screen. Here are five ways to use internet activism to make a difference right now without leaving home.
- Support change by contacting your representatives
- Drive change through what you buy online
- Encourage change by engaging with social media
- Spark change by educating yourself online
- Prompt change by letting other people know it’s OK to change
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Support change by contacting your representatives
Have a cause that you feel strongly about or a message to share with your government representatives? Contact your federal, state and local elected officials via email, phone or written correspondence. Find contact information for everyone from the office of the president all the way to your town officials.
Even better, share this information with others in your community to initiate an even bigger response.
Drive change through what you buy online
Shopping online is super convenient, and safer too, in this time of physical distancing. Show support through what you buy — or choose not to buy — when making your online purchases. Here are a few ways to affect social change through the power of your pocketbook:
- Shop local or independently-run businesses
- Research the owners or companies of the products you buy to make sure they align with your values
- Refrain from shopping online (or in-person) with companies that spread negative messages
Encourage change by engaging with social media
Social media is great for staying in touch with friends and sharing memes. But it’s also a great way to make a positive impact on a larger scale. Whether you dabble in Facebook and Instagram, or produce content for video apps like TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat, there are lots of ways to have your voice heard through social media.
And while you won’t necessarily change minds with everything you “share” or “like” online, showing your support for the causes you care about can go a long way towards strengthening grassroots initiatives, such as the “I am mama” movement.
Want to support a petition, but finding yourself at a loss for words? Social media can help you with that too. Check out this Instagram account, run by Princeton athlete and student activist N’Dea Godwin, who invented the auto-load petition for Breonna Taylor. Just click the link in her profile to automatically open your email with a prepopulated draft to send to officials concerning Breonna’s case.
Spark change by educating yourself online
Not everyone feels comfortable using their social media accounts as a platform to express their views. But you can still use social media to your advantage to educate yourself on timely events and the stories behind them. Try watching YouTube videos, reading first-person articles on Medium or following activists on Twitter.
Not sure where to start? Check out these resources to get started:
- Watch this powerful YouTube video by Emmanuel Acho, analyst for Fox Sports 1 and former NFL linebacker.
- Prefer your data in more bite-sized chunks? Follow so you want to talk about… on Instagram for well-designed infographics on an array of social issues. (And click on the “Action” button in their profile for more tech-based ways to get involved).
- Download and read an e-book from the current list of New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers, which has seen a surge in anti-racist texts and books written by people of color.
Though this type of social media content might be outside your comfort zone, there is an advantage to searching out this type of content online. By learning about differing viewpoints online, you have the privilege of privacy and time to digest and process new information.
Prompt change by letting other people know it’s OK to change
Changing the country happens one person at a time. And not only will systems have to change, but so will people’s worldviews. But as we all know, it can be hard to admit when you’re wrong. There’s a reason we call them “entrenched beliefs.” Encourage and support others when they speak out on social media platforms and give them the tools to vocalize a changing mindset.