Opinion: Social Media Activism is Connecting Gen-Z to Global Issues

Equity-focussed sign on classroom doorway in WCI. Photo by Ms. Klassen.

Coming from a rather progressive religious family, Grade 12 student Nadia K. says she has always paid attention to the news and been in tune with local and global politics. 

Nadia was especially outspoken on her social media platforms in recent months. She brought to light the injustice towards marginalized groups and did everything she could to educate and empower her followers. 

She wants to broaden her audience, stating: “As long as I’m doing good with the words that I’m putting on a page, I’ll feel really good about myself.” 

Her passion stems deeper than social media and she plans to combine her passion for writing and activism by majoring in journalism, political science, or english. 

When asked about her passion for activism and what sparked her interest in speaking out against these injustices, Nadia said, “In grade 10 there was this law suit going around with  a lot of significance to rape culture and misogyny, and I remember being so frustrated and I felt so helpless, but I just felt the need to say something – even if nobody heard me. I had to do something, so I posted my feelings and opinions.”

She liked knowing that people were listening to her and that she could potentially be educating people who hadn’t heard from her perspective. 

Nadia says that although sometimes it can be emotionally draining, spreading awareness is fulfilling, and she’s glad to see so many other people joining the conversation. Ultimately, she is one of many strong teenage voices striving to make a visible change in society.

Nadia’s story is an example of how social media, as a world-wide connector, has become a tool for more people to work together to fight for different causes.

Generation-Z teenagers have gotten involved in politics, social justice, and activism more in the recent months due to the importance it holds for them.

With an abundance of time spent at home in quarantine, teenagers have indulged themselves in social media, scrolling aimlessly through TikTok videos and clicking through Instagram stories. 

Although this may seem unhealthy, it has been incredibly beneficial for activists with strong voices reaching out to younger audiences about social justice issues. 

Social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Tiktok, have been crucial in creating worldwide connections where people can share information about specific causes that might otherwise be filtered out by local news outlets.

A message that should be familiar to everyone is Black Lives Matter. Although the movement was established back in 2013, it gained a lot of media traction after the murder of George Floyd last May. His murder caused a domino effect of rightful anger and upset, causing people all over the world to demand justice for not only Floyd, but all of the other people of colour whose lives have been ended by weaponry with a police officer at the other end. 

Many other social justice issues – homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny – emerged to continue the conversation of injustice and unfair treatment of marginalized groups of people. These all gained attention from viral posts on social media, the majority of which being spread by teenagers. 

Several students at WCI shared the events that got them more involved in social justice, many saying movements such as Black Lives Matter, Muslim Lives Matter, and Transgender Lives Matter sparked their actions. 

Another platform, TikTok, has created a political uprising with the group called “GenZ for Biden.” This is a collection of popular creators on the app coming together and encouraging younger people to register to vote and make a difference. 

@tiktokforbiden

Is this who we are? Tag who you see, and make sure to tag us if you use this audio!💙 ##tiktokforbiden

♬ Is This Who We Are – Ben Michals

“GenZ for Biden” has become successful because of the creators’ large platforms and ability to really inspire change, and a lot of popular creators – separate from the account – have been very open about their experiences at Black Lives Matter protests and seeing police brutality firsthand. TikTok quickly became a platform for people to spread awareness and important news, helping to educate people who may not have been aware of injustices. 

@tiktokforbiden

don’t forget to vote by mail or in person!!!!! ##fyp ##foryoupage ##tiktokforbiden

♬ Where Is The Love? – The Black Eyed Peas

The sudden increased involvement in social media activism by Gen Z is especially helpful for people who have trouble understanding some movements, since the information is easily accessible. 

Nadia noted that “It’s sometimes really difficult to vocalize what I’m trying to say, which is why this whole thing is so great. People can really have the time to think and write their opinions. It’s just always so much easier for me to type something out, then I can really guarantee my point is being made.” 

Other people seemingly felt this way as well, considering the amount of Instagram accounts going viral in recent months.

Accounts including @soyouwanttotalkabout provided a lot of insight on global issues and quickly became a platform a lot of teenagers followed to access their information on social justice. Accounts like this are helpful in creating quick, well-written posts with the purpose of informing different audiences.

Many other accounts like this one (@impact, @antiracismdaily, and @nowsimplified) went viral in an attempt to spread more awareness and encourage people to eradicate social injustice rather than stay neutral. 

The reason this many teenagers have gotten themselves so involved is because of the realization that what happens now affects us the most. People have began to realize the importance of politics intertwining with human rights and want to fight for equality for all.

Through social media advocacy, more peoples’ eyes have been opened to the injustices that directly affect them whether that is their religion, sexuality, gender identity, or race. This social media uproar is forcing younger people to unlearn what they have been taught while encouraging them to fight injustice directly rather than ignore it. 

With all of this in mind, there will always be people who carry opinions that might not perfectly align with yours. Nadia said “It’s inevitable, but as long as you’re getting that conversation started and it’s all respectful – you’re going to find some common ground.” 

Social media has been helpful to spark passion in the otherwise uninformed, but staying involved behind closed doors and actively fighting to make bigger differences is crucial to keeping these movements alive.

It’s very important to not only share posts, but also actively sign petitions, donate money if you’re able, and do the work of educating yourself and overcoming any biases you may have, whether you know about them or not.

Some organizations accepting donations are National Bail Out, The Innocence Project, Black Visions Collective, and your local chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Some petitions to sign are below:

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