Does protesting cause change?
February 26, 2019
Protesting creates foundations for change
Let’s be real – in this day and age, it’s too easy to feel like nothing is ever going to change no matter how much you scream and fight. However, even seemingly insignificant protests (such as ones sparked by or on social media websites) can have a staggeringly large domino effect; this is what makes it so important to make your voice heard, no matter what.
Although it’s unlikely a government official or celebrity will acknowledge a passionate protest post on Instagram or Twitter, what people fail to consider is that depending on your following, there’s a fair chance a good amount of people will see said post. It may be unlikely to change peoples’ opinions with just one post, but those who feel the same may feel more inspired to take action.
If you think about it, most marches or events are started through a smaller platform and gradually work their way up to having a large following. For example, after the Parkland shooting in 2018, the March for Our Lives movement was started on social media. Through people seeing, sharing and retweeting, this became a nationally-known movement and established multiple events in many states. I’d say that’s a pretty significant effect on people.
Regardless of whether or not you can make a grand change through even small actions, it’s urgent to voice your opinion – it can reach more people than you think.
Change requires more than just words
In an age of hyper-awareness, where a movement can be born online instantaneously, it seems that we are in a golden age of social activism. Flaws can be exposed and authority challenged in 280 characters or less. The promise of improvement lies only a few clicks away.
But perhaps that’s the obstacle.
With so many different agendas, perhaps our cries are not as clear as they are cacophonous. We encourage each other to share our stories, write letters to our lawmakers and show solidarity by wearing the colors of our cause.
And most often, we say we’re “raising awareness.”
Acknowledging a problem is undoubtedly an essential step, but a cause with no teeth garners no change. Social media is one way to open a dialogue, but without real-world pressure – be it boycotts, walkouts, petitions or the thousand other forms of peaceful demonstration – then all we have is another hashtag.
We can’t afford to be competing for the world’s attention with only a half-developed platform. In a survey by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans said they believe that social media distracts us from “truly” important issues. We need to be important.
The right to protest is one that we have a responsibility to exercise, but when we stand up, we owe it to our cause to commit to more than words.
We owe it to society to ensure that when we pick a fight, we choose the most effective – not the most convenient – way to protest.