Action, Not Tweets, Define Character


Jensen Rasmussen, Staff Writer

In the past year, students have taken to social media in ever growing numbers to advocate for various social movements. The issues they highlight are diverse, from gun violence to climate change, and their posts often include a call to action, urging others to join their side.

But posting opinions on social media is not action.  And without action, most “movements” fizzle out.

Raising awareness is only half the battle. According to Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand, evaluators for the Stanford Social Innovation Review magazine, “Research suggests that not only do campaigns fall short and waste resources when they focus solely on raising awareness, but sometimes they can actually end up doing more harm than good.”

According to a Psychology Today article by public health specialist Sara Gorman and Mount Sinai School of Medicine professor Jack M. Gorman, “Simply raising awareness may be a part of the equation but is clearly not the entire answer to effecting real, widespread change in attitudes and especially behaviors.”

While I don’t doubt that many who participate in this posting and reposting behavior truly do care for the various causes they support online, claiming to be an advocate for an issue on a social media page is not enough to make a difference. To be a true advocate of something, physical action must be incorporated into one’s life. 

In addition, some people participate in this activism solely to fit in with the crowd, with no intentions of taking action. According to Melanie Tannebaum of Scientific American, this is because of humans’ “susceptib[ility] to the powers of peer pressure.”

People post about the problems with gun violence, poaching, or unjust laws simply because everyone else is doing it. In reality, when more conform to a social media chain, they distract from those who are actively dedicated to making a difference for a cause.

What I have to say to all the action-less voices who want to be apart of the crowd: start practicing what you preach.

If you feel so connected to an issue today that you choose to spread the word online, then make an effort to become involved in the action necessary to produce the desired outcome.

Being an advocate for preventing environmental collapse requires environmental action, such as avoiding plastic or participating in beach clean ups; an activist for improved gun regulation should take part in rallies and marches and support representatives who are pro-regulation.

It is not enough to merely appear concerned.  It takes action to make a difference.

What one says online does not define who he or she is.  Actions demonstrate one’s true character.