While it’s great that young people are passionate and aware of social issues, we should also think critically and take steps to ensure both our offline and online activism is impactful says Jasmine Cox
In a global and digital world, it can be easy to catch yourself ‘doom scrolling’; reading about various social issues on social media. This can make one feel hopeless.
Instead of feeling powerless, you decide to take action and educate yourself about foreign issues and policies. But how much can you understand through research? This blog will explore the issues of researching foreign social issues and provide a more critical perspective.
know your resources.
Not all news articles are trustworthy. It is worth considering where the information you consume is coming from.
In fact, the majority of global news networks are owned by under 30 CEOs. This domination of public media means that the opinions of these owners are most prominent. For instance, the Murdochs are infamous for their conservative leanings and have major influence over elections because of their media domination and financial wealth.
While there are options for finding scholarly journal articles, many of these are locked behind paywalls and not accessible to the average reader. And of course, we all know one cannot just trust everything seen on social media. So assessing the credibility of what you’re reading is definitely a challenge.
In pursuit of social and cultural knowledge.
Social issues are often complex and layered with cultural nuance. It can be difficult to understand the true depth of an issue from an outside perspective. Our morals and values are the results of our upbringing. Practices or norms considered inappropriate or even abhorrent in one culture may be perfectly acceptable to another. For example, people in European and South American cultures may kiss each other on the cheek when meeting as a sign of goodwill – while another culture may consider this a violation of personal space (read more here and here). Of course, you can learn about some cultural norms through online research, the only way to truly gain an appreciation for values and customs is to fully immerse yourself in the culture itself.
Beyond online activism.
Online trends are short-lived and it is easy to get swept up by the latest movements and trends when they’re seemingly everywhere.
While it’s great that young people are more passionate and aware of social issues, we should think critically and take steps to ensure our activism is useful. This avoids coming across as tokenistic and ensures effective outcomes.
In addition to sharing about injustice on your Instagram story, consider correcting your family member’s misconception about a social group, join a local climate change march and create actionable goals for change.