Digital Activism vs. Social Activism

Activism is a communication activity. Digital activism is about spreading messages, consciousness raising, and being heard. Social activism is often referred to as traditional activism and consists of things like posting flyers, gathering, newsletters, creating petitions, speeches, and much more. Change and revolution have happened in the past without the digital world, but with the digital world and social media, activism has become much easier and people are more able to collaborate on idea and voice their opinions and concerns across the world. Digital activism has increased the amount of participation in certain movements because of how easy it has gotten and the lack of effort that it takes.

With the online world, it has become way more common for people to express their ideas and try to connect with others who share the same views. It is because of the digital world that movements for change often expand globally. Without the internet, there would be way less awareness of issues going on outside of peoples’ own communities. Also with digital activism, it gives a way for people whose ideas are often suppressed or silenced to have a voice. If they are not able to freely express their opposition in their community, they can turn to the digital world to find freedom. Hashtags have become the biggest tool for digital activism. They have really changed the way the internet works. They bring people together who are all looking to talk about, read about, or discuss the same topic, no matter where or who you are. A challenge for digital activism though, is the idea that there are sometimes too many messages. Because of the desire for people to share their ideas they over share with hashtags and stuff, and it starts being referred to as ‘clicktivism’ or ‘slacktivism’. Critics of digital activism argue that digital activism requires people to do the bare minimum to engage in a topic. This might lead to certain movements gaining lots of attention and support without people really even understanding the topic at hand, which can even be dangerous.

In a more positive light, digital activism can be used for less serious change and movements, and simply for raising awareness for good causes. For example, the ALS ice bucket challenge was a huge movement in 2014. This was a trend and an action of digital activism that rapidly caught on around the nation. People were posting videos of them dumping buckets of ice water on their heads after they were nominated, then nominating 3 more people. This introduced what the disease is to so many people who were unaware before and got attention that was not there before. Another example is the #MeToo movement. This was a digital activism act that encouraged women who were victims of sexual harassment or worse to speak up. It empowered women across the nation and inspired others to not be afraid. This created a whole new look on speaking up about harassment, something that people in the past have often kept quiet about because of their fear of peoples’ reactions.

Social activism is definitely still effective, but I think in today’s day and age, digital activism is way more prominent and influential. Even when there are acts of social activism, like a women’s march or something of that nature, pictures and hashtags are shared about the even on social media that end up giving the movement the attention in desired. So even though they are acting physically and in person, the digital community is what gets the message most wide spread. Overall, digital activism is a more effective way to gain attention because of how easy it is. Celebrities often participate in these things, like the ice bucket challenge, because they do not need to be anywhere in person to show their support, they just need to post something on their social media and that is all.

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