The Rise of Digital Activism

*click* *send* *click* *forward* *click* *type* *type more* *KEEP TYPING* *post*

No, I am not talking about my dysfunctional keyboard and mouse, even though I should do something about that. That was the script of a digital activist: Armed with a scathing rant in less than 140 characters of a tweet, a profile picture with a filter endorsing the latest cause, the ability to create trending hashtags on all social media platforms with the fluency of a first language and GIFs that can form (or destroy) an opinion in little more than an image and a little short of a video.

Speaking of videos, let’s not forget the hallowed grounds of a YouTube comments section. We might have stopped writing letters to each other, but we have started writing our opinions everywhere, addressed to everyone. Did I miss out on something? Oh, yes, petition emails. Mix all of this with a potion that is a web browser along with an imaginary (yet entitled) cape and that comes with it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the modern day activist.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using digital media as a platform to express views, perspectives, dissatisfaction and even hate, in some cases. In fact, this is an extremely powerful form of communication. But like everything else that is free in life, it means little to nothing when it doesn’t hold substance or fails to translate into action. In fact, this makes it all the more volatile and dangerous. Heck, even screenshots are widely used.

In our attempt to make the world a better place through these means, we often limit the scope of it to digital only. For every global warming post, we need someone to go and plant a tree; for every article on state of education in India, we need someone to take out time on a Saturday and teach kids; for every list that states 10 things wrong with the country, we need someone (or even better, 10 people) to do something about at least one of those. We need people to show up what hope looks like, instead of constantly telling us.

Every once in a while, we have that someone around us who rises up to take charge. However, the world could do with a lot (By this, I mean A LOT) more of them. It is great to appreciate and encourage what’s being done, but we all need to try, even once, to be that someone.

We live in an age where clicks are more powerful than pens and swords combined. But it’s time we combined all those resources to make a difference.

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Essentially, try to strike a balance and make our digital and real selves as similar as possible — the Occupy Wall Street movement is a great example of this. While initiatives like the Global Citizen by Coldplay are a brilliant idea, it needs to go beyond just clicks and keyboard strokes. Sure, it’s a good place to begin and has a very tempting incentive too, but if we limit its scope to only a few tasks on the web, we can only go so far.

Here’s to hoping we move beyond digital and armchair(/rotating chair/ bean bag) activism and move to a rocking and real one instead. Let me go and get that mouse and keyboard fixed now, because you never know when I might need them for the next war.

Until then, *Click* *click* *click*.

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