How has social media has become an integral part of online activism among young people?
Social media has become an extremely popular medium for online activism, in particular among young people. As they have grown up with social media, it is already easily accessible, and an integral part of their lives. Although there are dangers of social media, the ease with which people can interact with others online means that it is where many young people can find communities, and others with similar experiences and opinions on political and social issues. Social media functions through people publishing posts that attract attention. Young people are therefore accustomed to a world in which almost everyone has an opinion, and many issues are discussed in real-time. This generation does not generally regularly read newspapers, so for much social media is their source of news.
Social media posts are rapid-fire messages. They, therefore, provide an excellent source of education on important issues, like institutional racism, and easy method for discussion. #MeToo showed the power of social media to build momentum and share personal stories, which makes activism more impactful.
During COVID-19, online activism through social media has come to the fore as in-person interaction has not been possible, and social media became the main method of communication. The speed with which Black Lives Matter gained traction in the UK demonstrates how social media not only unites but also organises young people. Black Lives Matter is also an example of why social media is so important: issues are highlighted online, but something as simple as a one Facebook Event page, which is then shared, could immediately organise a full protest.