9 Ways To Bring Your Activism Online During The Pandemic

Supermajority Education Fund

August 17, 2020

The recent deaths of a number of Black people at the hands of the police — including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery — have led to the Black Lives Matter movement becoming one of the biggest movements in U.S. history. In the midst of a pandemic, however, not everyone feels comfortable, or reasonably can, show up in person.

Thankfully, in-person gatherings aren’t the only way to promote change in our communities, and many of us already have plenty of practice using our online platforms to promote social justice. But for those who haven’t, or for those looking to mix their tactics up, here are nine ways you can bring your activism online.

1. Share images and videos of police brutality at protests. The rise of cell phones has changed the world in many ways. People are now videotaping instances of police brutality, making it impossible to deny the discrimination that people of color have long faced at the hands of the police. The stories of Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and countless others have become public knowledge in no small part because of cell phone video evidence of their murders. 

People have also been collecting video evidence of police officers using unreasonable force against them while attending Black Lives Matter protests. A video of a 75-year-old protestor in Buffalo being shoved to the ground by police officers, hitting his head on the concrete, and lying on the ground as the officers walked past him went viral in June.

By sharing these images and videos, we’re not only raising awareness of the injustice that prompted these marches in the first place, but also of how institutions like the police are working to keep that injustice the status quo.

2. Share personal stories of experience with oppression. Whether it’s on social media posts or in dialogue with friends (or even people you don’t know or who disagree with you), research shows that storytelling is a powerful tool. Sharing the impact of the oppression you and/or your community experience with the world can help others understand larger social injustices, and gain a more nuanced understanding of how larger social issues impact individuals. Even when you disagree with the person to whom you’re telling your story, you might be able to establish middle ground that can make you both feel more comfortable understanding the other’s perspective.

3. Use hashtags to spread awareness. Twitter hashtags are a great way to spread awareness about social issues for a few reasons. We can easily keep track of the growing attention that one specific issue is getting through how often a hashtag associated with it is being used. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, for instance, has been used over 12,000,000 times. Public figures can also more easily endorse a cause when it’s brought to their attention through a trending hashtag. While hashtags can’t take the place of all activism, hashtags like #MeToo, #WomensMarch, and #MarchForOurLives have drawn public attention to the movements behind them. 

4. Support fundraising efforts. If you can, donate to organizations that are working to address and/or find solutions for the issues you care about; this is a good guide for how to responsibly and impactfully donate. If financial support isn’t an option, you can still promote fundraising online by spreading awareness to draw in support. 

5. Support causes while shopping for things you already need. A number of brands incorporate social good, or giving back to communities, into their missions, and by choosing to buy something you need from them over other retailers, you can make a difference. For example, Better World Books is an online used bookstore that donates a book to someone in need for every book sold.

6. Watch YouTube videos associated with VISO Give. The site on YouTube aggregates video content from nonprofits, and those nonprofits receive 60% of the associated ad revenue. For example, the YouTube channel for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah raised over half a million dollars for charity through this program.

7. Boycott online shopping (and all shopping!) for unethical goods and services. Boycotting goods and services from companies that are unethical is a powerful form of activism. Take fast fashion, for example. Every year 15 million tons of fast fashion items end up in landfills. And that’s not even taking pollution from production and shipping into consideration. Learn more about how to shop ethically here.

8. Reach out to your elected officials. You can always bring social issues to the attention of your elected representatives by calling and emailing them. This can be a great way to support nationwide mail-in voting, for instance. 

9. Make sure your online activism is still connecting to on-the-ground efforts. There are steps you can take to connect your online activism to real-world change and make sure that you’re not liking or re-tweeting into a void. Some ways to do this include being persistent in the message you’re sending, rather than sending a one-off post and forgetting about it, and continuously lifting up and amplifying voices other than your own.