The main goal of many activism projects is to rally the many against the few in wealthy powerful positions either as heads of unstoppable corporations or of political standing. Over the last year especially we have seen people rally in online spaces and organize to pull together communities for protests, signing petitions and demanding change in large numbers. There are so many nuanced and complicated reasons for our lack of success in these types of activism and this article is about 1 potential fix to a very complicated problem.
That potential solution requires people to form more genuine connections and relationships with those surrounding them. As many of us already know, the amount of connection possible with the internet and social media seems endless and has made lots of grassroots organizing possible. But it isn’t a surprise that social media making us feel lonelier in our personal lives similarly applies to these online activism movements. Connecting through likes, shares and holding similar knowledge about the realities of the world around us, including in communities we don’t belong to, is a type of hollow connection. It can be used effectively but shouldn’t provide the only type of connection on these issues that we have.
Not only has COVID-19 isolated all people even further, removing them from the communities where they usually socialize and connect with others, but it has made people more likely to focus on the very small inner circles they are deeply embedded in, such as family and home life.
This transition has brought us even further away from understanding those with different challenges as us, but it has also allowed us to remove ourselves from the responsibility we may feel when facing others face to face on issues we could be doing more about.
Whether this topic is police brutality and racism, that many white and non-black poc choose to participate in selectively or if it’s ignoring the influence of our own personal actions on the planet. It is a nice dream to imagine that people take the same responsibility for these issues and their work in deconstructing societal problems (especially ones that these same people benefit from) whether they are active members of their community or not, but this simply isn’t true. We may feel more influence and inspiration to recycle or shop the local market when these conversations come up with co-workers at the office or continue to do the work to dismantle social inequities when we have others surrounding us who remind us why these issues matter to us in the first place.
On the other hand, those of us with enough motivation and drive may continue to have a desire to work against these issues but find ourselves coming up empty handed when looking for support. Imagine you want to host a beach clean up or call representatives about issues going on around us, sure you can do these things alone or with your small group. But this won’t be nearly as effective as if you had a crowd of similar minded individuals to gather around you. Adulthood isolation is a main contributor to inaction in this way. If you don’t have a huge social media following or all of your college friends or similar minded co-workers from your last job have dropped out of your life one by one and you continue to move chasing the next opportunity, then you won’t have many people to join you in your activism endeavors.
It is the time to start thinking about how our inconsistencies in maintaining relationships outside of our inner circle contributes to larger societal problems and weakens the strength in numbers that civilians and activists need to make demands to their government. If we take this realization and responsibility in our own hands and start recreating ways to connect, we can regain the strength in numbers we will need to make impact. We will also draw away from corporations who count on us to be isolated and glued to our social media accounts consuming ads and fueling our insecurities and therefore inaction and weaker social connections due to lack of belief in oneself.