COVID-19 is Bringing Online Activism the Credit it Always Deserved.

Activism May 07, 2020

Remember when "slacktivism" was a word that was thrown around without a second thought? When it was used to demean people who only took part in online activism? - Never mind that those people might have barriers stopping them from getting out on the streets... I see you, you have always been essential to movements. - Slacktivism, or to use the REAL term, online activism, is ESSENTIAL. It always has been, but with COVID-19 keeping us off the streets, many are only now realizing just how important online activism is to the climate and social justice movements.

Slacktivism: A portmanteau of Slacker and Activism. Often used as a demeaning term to describe online actions of activism that have been deemed simple and low-risk. The participates of this activism are often seen as people who fully engaged with or commuted to the movement.

@EarthByHelena just did an absolute gem of a post on Instagram, about why we still need activism RIGHT NOW. And she's right. We NEED to carry on. But for those of us who are used to being in the streets, it’s easy to feel lost, directionless. What does activism now look like? How do we carry out activism if we can't physically show governments how large our movement is, and how serious we about demands for system change and climate resolutions?

I'm here to tell you that online activism CAN and DOES mobilize a movement, and it does it just as well as street marches and protests. I'm telling you that petitions, hashtags, emails, and phone calls all make a difference. Especially now, when everyone is barred from the streets and online activism is our only alternative.

Sign Petition and Share Them: Petitions highlight an issue. They often educate us on that issue, or at least us a brief overview of why the issue is problematic. Petitions also give people clear, simple actions to take. They're easily sharable, which means they can spread awareness quickly, in popular spaces. When a big enough response has been met, petitions can even force targets to change.

Email or Call MPs and CEOs: Be an absolute pest. Hold people in power to account for whatever it is they're doing that needs to be called out and changed. Tell them what it is they shouldn't be doing and why. Tell them about alternative action you want to see them take. And even tell them when they're doing a good job. Don't be shy to tell them about policies or business incentives you agree with and want more of.

Use Campaign Hashtags: Just like flocking into the streets, hashtags are a way to show how strong a movement is. They can form connections between activists on the same issue and, if they start trending, can help a whole new audience to engage with the movement. Think about #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, these movements gained societal awareness from online amplification.


Activist and organizer with Greenpeace Vancouver. Writes about climate and social justice, feminism, greenwashing, and fossil fuel fuckery.

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