The Daily Illini

Activism movements become too hashtag heavy

Colleen Romano

Colleen Romano

By Isaiah Reynolds, Columnist

The word “activism” has been redefined. What was once a rigorous and at times dangerous act of crusading for political and social causes has become easier than ever through social media. Whether this is a good or bad change is up for debate, but almost anyone can agree action must follow awareness.

The traditional sales funnel describes the process of establishing a brand in the consumer’s mind. Although the exact steps vary, the process always begins with spreading awareness and ends with some form of action. The same process can be applied to almost any form of information presented to the public.

Most of the modern culture of activism and social movements focus primarily on the awareness of movements. One of the easiest ways to get messages broadcasted quickly to a large number of people is through social media– more specifically, hashtag activism.

We’ve seen many causes gain momentum through hashtags including #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, #NoDAPL and the recent Graduate Employees Organization #FairContractNow. These hashtags and movements are still used today and have gained thousands of followers.

Gaining this attention from an audience is an essential part of establishing change. However, a lot of social issues can become a bit hashtag heavy and lose focus on implementing concrete policies within institutions around the country.

A lot of these movements can reach a standstill when followers become unaware of what the next step is. This may not be a fault of the people starting the movements, but it is a definite obstacle built by virtue signalers. Facebook and other social media platforms have unfortunately given most people a sense of importance. As a result, these platforms provide an invitation for everyone to have their own righteous monologue on any topic of their choice. Behind a screen, these online activists have no obligation to follow through with their sermons and limit progress to their own pages.

As supportive and contributing citizens to these movements, we have a responsibility to continue the fight on a smaller scale in our daily lives.

We still have the responsibility of following through on our Facebook speeches or Twitter threads by continuing to organize and support causes outside of an LED screen. With this kind of conscious thinking, the secondary step of mobilizing, defined as working with a group to establish a set of concrete goals, will follow.

Mobilization is defined as acting as a culmination of the skills and efforts of everyone involved. It has the power to move the masses to act. In partnership with the meticulous planning of organizers, the ethical intentions of supporters can bring about long-lasting change.

Isaiah is a sophomore in Media.

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