The Crisis Project was created as a platform to incite young people to engage with the most pressing crises of today, forming a community of changemakers and young activists. It was based upon the idea that at any one time, there are several crises threatening to tear the world apart. Activism has since undergone a revolution - the fresh wave of protests sparked by the the murder of George Floyd and the resurgence of the BLM movement served as a revolution, demonstrating our generation’s propensity to use social media to create change.
However, many activism veterans argue that whilst social media provides information about injustices on a larger scale than ever before, there has been an increase in ‘slacktivism’. Slacktivism, a combination of the words ‘slacker’ and ‘activism’, refers to half-hearted social media activism that requires little to no real effort. The Instagram blackout of June 2nd 2020 is the perfect example - around 2 million people posted a black square with #blackouttuesday. Paradoxically, this simply ended up drowning out the voices trying to educate and organise rallies, wasting a day of momentum. The predisposition towards slogans and hashtags over meaningful action is somewhat understandable: the flood of information following a movement can be overwhelming. However, this does not make slacktivism any less troubling for those at the heart of these movements - hashtags alone do not bring about change.
Nevertheless, there are examples where social media has enabled a mass audience to be awakened about particular issues. An example is the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, a phenomenon which swept across the globe in 2014. The challenging nature, celebrity endorsement and narcissism associated with the challenge made it hugely accessible and over 1.2 million videos were uploaded to Facebook. Although less than 750,000 of those donated to the ALS Association, the campaign still raised an eye watering $41 million, a fantastic outcome. The challenge, however, faced severe backlash for the one-off nature of these donations, and the lack of awareness about the disease that initiated it. A large number of participants didn’t even mention ALS and the campaign was seen as ‘a clickbaity gimmick’ to sufferers of the disease. Therefore, whilst the example was so successful whilst it was trending, more could have been done to provide better and more long-lasting support for the community.
Social media is not problematic in itself - it allows people in countries with restrictive media coverage to stay up to date with pressing issues, and connect with each other. Social media facilitates the organisation of protests, rallies and petitions. The problem arises when activism is restricted to social media, be it tweeting about an issue or reposting an infographic - activism doesn’t have to be one or the other. Activism is at its best when social media is combined with offline activities such as donating, engaging in difficult conversation and volunteering with nonprofits. Activism can also be a private affair, connecting an individual more deeply to a cause. By all means change your profile picture in solidarity with a cause, but also write to your MP, educate yourself, perhaps even launch a fundraiser.
The Crisis Project’s ethos is that of sustainable activism - we commit to championing causes in a way that encourages long term support rather than simply jumping on ‘waves’ of a movement. We hope to carve out an access route to the most pressing issues of the day, providing in-depth information about causes that will allow our audience to choose ones that truly resonate with them, and then commit long term. Activism isn’t always protests and impassioned speeches, or about who sees you being an activist - activism is also engaging in debate with a family member about a controversial topic. It’s committing to buy clothes from ethical brands. It’s turning off the tap when you brush your teeth. It’s cycling to work instead of driving. Regardless, it’s clear that smaller actions over a longer period of time has more of an impact than scattered support in the short term. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be an activist - every strategy contributes to a larger cause.
At The Crisis Project, we will be using our social media platforms and website to facilitate a national and global movement to sustainable activism. With the wide reach that technology gives us, we will provide you with balanced information and opportunities to actively deliver change. We will do everything in our power to support you in your journey to becoming a sustainable activist!
Written by Soumya Krishna Kumar for The Crisis Project