Exploring the Motives of Social Media Activism

Natalie Note, Reporter

500 million people worldwide use Instagram daily as a source for news, entertainment, or to simply catch up on the lives of friends, family, and celebrities. This large audience makes Instagram the perfect app for the youth of today, giving them an outlet to express their concerns about big issues and repost a variety of topics for all of their followers to see. 

All students at Novato High can remember the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred in the summer of 2020. Instagram activism was at its peak as many posts were about police brutality and institutionalized racism. While these topics were and still are extremely relevant and important to discuss, many Instagram users began to question if what they were doing was enough. Which was more valuable for society, reposting photos of protests in Washington DC and New York or actually going out to protest in your community? 

While the BLM protests are a great example of a time when students have used digital platforms to speak out, posting important information is still a daily occurrence. When something big happens, feeds are flooded with facts, opinions, headlines, and photos of the topic. People reposting these issues contributes to the onslaught of information, accurate or otherwise, being spread about the highlighted topic. It is easy to be swept up in the posting and reposting, as no one wants to seem uninformed or apathetic. 

This leads to a large number of users “hopping on the bandwagon.” Many post not because they have taken the time to research or feel passionately about the topic, but because they don’t want to seem like they don’t care. 

A couple Novato High students spoke about how informed they were about the topics being posted on social media. Novato High freshman Sarah Pryor shed some light on topics that she feels well-versed enough to post about confidently. 

“[I post] mostly ones that I care about, like the LGBTQ community,” she said. “And stuff that I feel like I have a right to say stuff about.” 

Pryor went on to say more about her activism posts on Instagram, stating that she reposts on her story but does not expect much to come of it. 

“Ultimately I know that I am not making that much of a difference because I am only a 14 year-old sharing a post and no one is going to look through my account for stuff,” she said. 

Sofia Casano, a sophomore at Novato High, shared a different opinion when it came to her personal Instagram activism. 

“I don’t have any money to donate, cause I don’t have a job,” she said. “I was like ‘what can I do’ and I found out about petition-signing and calling senators and people in government. I was like ‘well this is something I can help by doing and other people can help too.’ That is what started the re-uploading on my story.” 

Casano tried to make her page a place where people can find information about petitions to sign or topics to research. During the BLM protests, she wanted to find a way to help from the safety of her home and found that getting the word out and alerting people of where to put their energy was the way to do that. 

Whether people believe that posting on their account is influential or not, it is always important to express opinions and speak out about topics that are important. Before submitting a post, perhaps young people can try to think about the motive behind it. Is it something you know a lot about or is it simply the most recent topic that everyone is talking about? A worthy question for many on social media.