2020 Was The Year Of Internet Activism, What About 2021?
A global pandemic, the killing of George Floyd, the pro-choice demonstrations in Poland and the US presidential election. It’s difficult to comprehend all of these things happened in 2020.
It has been a turbulent, and let’s not forget ‘unprecedented’, year to say the least, which has provoked mass demonstrations for social change on a number of issues, from police brutality and racial inequality to LGBTQ+ rights.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that the pandemic has played a huge role in the events that have taken place this year. While people have turned out in their tens of thousands to protest in the streets, many millions more have turned to internet activism as a way to call for change during times where leaving the house isn’t always possible.
Apps like TikTok have been harnessed by ambitious youngsters creating powerful content about racism and misogyny, while Instagram users shared infographics and links to petitions.
One person who found himself forced to change the way in which he campaigned is Somriddho Dasgupta, an androgynous model and activist of colour.
‘I found out that growing up, since I never had people who were like me around me, I didn’t even know what being androgynous meant and that’s what I was,’ he told UNILAD.
Somriddho’s activism was all about being visible, and being an androgynous model in mainstream media allowed him to raise awareness and understanding about people like himself. However, when lockdown hit in the UK, Somriddho, who is based in London, wasn’t able to work on productions, so turned to making online content to spread awareness instead.
‘I started creating videos about androgyny and the issues related to it, and posting it on my social media accounts to raise more awareness,’ Somriddho explained.
‘I actually feel that the pandemic has made me realise that campaigning can be done in different ways.’
When normal life eventually resumes, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, will activism and social change go back to the way it used to be done, or has the pandemic had lasting effects on the way in which we campaign?
‘In my opinion, once things are back to normal, I’d do both; the way I used to campaign before the pandemic and during it. I feel it might actually be a more efficient way of reaching out to people,’ Somriddho said.
‘Since the pandemic I’ve started calling myself a social change maker instead of an activist, because when you say activist, people only picture demonstrations and protests that usually happens outside, in large groups. But, social change making happens everywhere: through social media, speaking to newspapers.’
However, not all so-called online activism has been particularly successful. Stunts like #BlackOutTuesday, which saw people sharing black squares to their Instagram profiles, were accused of ‘slacktivsm,’ which is more performative than productive.
This just goes to show that we still have a long way to go in terms of evolving the way we can use the internet and social media for social change, but 2021 could be the year we do exactly that.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
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