How to make your voice heard


Siena Urquiza

While being an activist on social media doesn’t take much effort, making your voice heard offline can be a challenge.

Black squares, hashtags and infographics: what does all of this truly contribute to? If you have social media, you probably have seen countless amounts of people reposting and retweeting messages concerning the issues that are going on in the world, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, climate change, reproductive rights, gun control and voting rights. Links to petitions and websites to help you educate yourself appear in the bios of many young activists, including mine. The idea is that posting spreads awareness about a topic. But is the spreading of information enough?

Showing support and spreading the word about things is a great way to start, but often people seem to be posting simply because the issue of the moment is a trend on social media. Posting on social media can often be just for show. 

The Black Lives Matter movement is not a trend and neither is ending police brutality. Spreading information to others is a good start, but to make a change, activists need to take action together. It is difficult to make a change when you just pose the question of “did you know this was going on?” and then do nothing to stop the issue.

Solutions that you can do to truly take action in your community, even as someone who may not be able to vote, are all around. Some of these options you can do safely from your home, and for others you may have to wait until the pandemic is over, unless you follow safety precautions. You can hold and attend protests, send letters to politicians and large corporations and get involved in opportunities to work alongside public servants. 

The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, religion and press, which includes the right to peacefully protest. Protesting not only shows the government and elected officials where their youth stand but also raises awareness of the issue on a global scale. There have been numerous topics that protesting has addressed throughout the history of the U.S., including getting suffrage for women. People can strengthen their voice and their community’s voice, and change will come.

Getting a large number of letters and emails sent to government officials will catch their attention. They may be able to ignore one email asking for a change, but they cannot ignore thousands. The same thing goes for writing letters to large corporations. You can call them out on their wrongdoing doing whether it is about their unethical treatment of workers or the harm that they are causing to the environment. When issues are brought up by many consumers, corporations are forced to make a change so they do not lose large amounts of customers.

Another way that you can gradually bring about a change is by getting involved in public service. Even if you do not necessarily see yourself wanting to be a politician when you mature as an adult, working alongside the people who are making the decisions that will affect your future can be a key asset in figuring out what more you can do specifically to help your cause. Obtaining a political internship is a great way to become a more informed citizen and learn about common issues individuals have when communicating with the government.

In most of my feed, I see things that align with my political viewpoints. But in the real world offline, not everything will be like this. Just because you may have a feed that shows you content from people that think in a similar way to you doesn’t mean that everyone else in the U.S. does. There are going to be people who may think that whatever you may be advocating for is useless and a bad idea.

If you want to bring change, you can’t be stuck in a community that agrees with you. Some people that are surrounded by similar social and political ideals may think that posting about an issue is enough, but what is on one person’s feed is not an accurate representation of where the rest of the U.S. stands. This is why you need to get off social media and take action in the real world.