The short nature of social media activism

By: Shatakshi Mohan

Love that starts with a spark does not last long, cause a spark is bound to die.

There that being said a lot of you would disagree with me, I did too when I first came across it but guess what, it is the truth once you put thoughts into it. For a love to last forever and have a happy ever after, a spark is just not enough, it requires compromises and adjustment on the very basic level. Spark is something that just piques your interest hence very short-lived. If you want to make it work you have to make sure that the spark turns into fire, an everlasting fire that either burns you to ashes or you live to see its glory. This brings me to my point, that piquing interest is not enough, it merely is an initiative that is just as important but it isn’t where we should stop.

Social media as the dictionary says it, is a platform typically used for social interaction and access to news and information, and decision making. It is a valuable communication tool with others locally and worldwide, as well as to share, create, and spread information and now campaigns also.

Gen Z as we like to call ourselves has been described as an emerging generation of changemakers, one that is more accepting of diversity and more active in the face of unfairness, with members ranging in age from seven to 22. We are also the generation that grew up with access to the internet at our fingertips and now we use social media to advocate social justice.

Recently I read a piece on my Instagram regarding Female Genital Mutation. To say I was shocked is an understatement, I had no idea where my world is full of Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel’s happily ever after there is a world beyond my bubble where humans have lost humanity. I was enraged, disgusted, and felt helpless beyond words. So, I did what I seemed the best at the moment, I sent it in my WhatsApp forward’s and Instagram stories praying and wishing that it would make a change, that some would come magically like the god fairy or a prince charming and whisk those girls away from their brutal fate. Give them a second chance at a life where they get it to paint it better just like they want, away from cinder and self-obsessed stepmothers. Instead, what I got was a request not to post such messages without Trigger Warning, I agree with my mistake, but what do you expect from a girl who has lived her life wearing pink-colored glasses and still wants her very own Flynn Rider.

It did nothing, though it created a buzz about how inhumane this act is and I can assure you it even led to lots of people coming on ‘WhatsApp groups’ to condemn what was happening and trying to figure out why a sane human would do this, but that wasn’t the point there was it? I didn’t send it there for them to discuss it among themselves and pity those poor girls. My motive was to help those girls to have a new life which in the end wasn’t achieved.

The reality is that even though viral campaigns are short-lived and new ones emerging all the time, they don’t drive substantial influence with the actual topic as they just serve as a mere spark. Once it is ignited, we need to keep the fire alive on the ground level for any change.

I admit that social media activism has raised millions of dollars for altruistic causes in the aftermath of natural disasters and other catastrophes. However, we must be vigilant regarding our involvement in this type of activism; even if we participate in a tiny way—for example, by circulating a hashtag—we may find that our incentives to act are satiated but that we do not have a tangible effect, I tried and failed.

I’ve gained knowledge about under-reported social and political concerns thanks to social media, and I’m pleased with my generation’s willingness to discuss social and political matters that were previously deemed “uncomfortable,” even if it’s simply by penning a piece of content as the FGM case.

When we repost a hashtag or an awareness video we are contributing to the cause, which is necessary, but we should also maintain the same level of enthusiasm when it’s time to act in any way we can in real life. Thankfully, I’ve seen an increasing amount of social media posts encouraging us to take our activism into the real world to make genuine change.

I hope that our online activism shifts away from purely raising awareness which makes it short-lived and toward offering ways that we can help make a difference in the real world. Remember that social media is merely a spark and not a change.


This blog page serves as a platform for the Editorial department of The Hindu Education Plus Club at VIT Vellore. We provide opportunities to budding authors across campus to hone their writing skills. We publish blogs four times a week, where writers can communicate their views on any topic of their choice with our readers.

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