From buying clothes and keeping in touch with family to contacting customer service and paying the bills, the Internet has become central to everyday life. Its the marketplace, the bank, the phone book, the place everyone hangs out and more.
In addition to all the essential functions available online, theres a faction of the Internet that you may not have previously considered. The ability for people and organizations around the world to connect with the click of a mouse has led to global communities that are focused on causes from human rights-related topics to oil spill cleanups that harm marine life. For people searching for a new hobby, an activity to engage with online or simply a way to speak their opinions, online activism may be the answer. Find out how you can join a movement and check out a successful and influential campaign from across the pond.
"Social media is perfect for building an online activism voice."
So you want to be an online activist
If youve decided to use your computer to benefit the world, you have to choose a cause to support. Think about groups that are most important to you, incite passion in your heart and hold your interest. Animal-lovers may want to support national organizations that find new homes for abused puppies, while people who are enthusiastic about saving the environment can look into green charities and activist groups. While there may be a certain cause thats flashing through the headlines, dont necessarily jump into that project. Charitable fads come and go, but you should select a cause that you wont grow tired of once its popularity fades. Use the website TakePart.com to peruse a whole host of options that you may not have thought of.
Once youve settled on a particular topic of focus, consider how you can offer support. Do you want to raise funds or just awareness? Are you planning to volunteer time or join an established group of supporters? You dont necessarily need to determine these answers before you start speaking out, but it can be helpful to understand your long-term goals as you begin with online activism.
Regardless of your desired result, social media is perfect for building an online activism voice. Through Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, you can broadcast your opinions, share content from fellow supporters you admire and join an international community of activists. Online petitions that are hosted by sites such as Change.org are easy to create, add a signature to and share with the world. However, its important to consider the sources of your information before posting on your social media pages. You can undermine your authority on the topic if you spread or promote incorrect facts or anecdotes.
An online global movement
Even without an established voice in the activist community, you can take part in social movements online. For example, Britains Everyday Sexism Project brought older women together on Twitter to discuss how ageism and sexism affect their lives. This organization strives to bring examples of daily sexism to light through its online submission and events such as this. The hour-long Twitter chat, which was held in April, used the hashtag #OlderWomenVoices to create a dialogue. That hashtag grew to be the second most-trending topic in the U.K.
What types of topics were broached during the conversation? Several women spoke to unfair beauty standards for women, especially as they grow older. They wanted fellow females to know that wrinkles are just fine, attractiveness doesnt have an age limit and anti-aging products arent essential to your beauty. Additionally, these women want their peers to consider why looking younger than your age is such a compliment in todays society.
Others discussed how the relationship between women and technology is portrayed. They want advertisers to show women in more diverse roles than homemakers and call for an end to the stereotype that older women cant handle using technology. One woman explained how she wishes there wasnt an expectation to be wise and cautious because shes older - she wants to act immature without judgment from others who only see her age.
A few participants used their online activist platform to respond with the positive sides of being an older woman. For example, many arent afraid to stand up for what they believe in because theyve matured beyond caring what everyone thinks of their thoughts and opinions.