Social Media Tips in The Age of George Floyd

Aysia's Tips on How to handle Social Media Activism

June 1, 2020
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Social activism was already hard enough without the addition of social media; but now with it, activism can seem even harder. In the age of George Floyd, social media is playing a key role in bringing about judgement and change. Sadly it is also playing a key role in telling us how others think. Many of us who cannot participate in the protests are trying to use our platforms in a way that brings attention to change. However, there are many barriers to this. There are barriers from careers, being a public figure, from fear of social media burn-out and trauma, and from being an ally. Constantly working with social media has taught me alot about how to handle these. Being a Black Woman has taught me alot about pride and life- it also directly affects my thoughts on the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Protests. Lastly being a graduated journalism student, and technically a media worker, has taught me how to professionally manage a balance while also bringing about change. I want to provide tips to help you! Personally, I have always been a strong personality and speak up on many social issues; however, I am in no way an expert, so my tips are personal things I have both learned and experienced to work on for myself. I hope they can also help you!

 

Social media activism tips for those in careers/ for public figures:

1. Be careful not to expose too much information on your personal profile about your career.

Letting people know where you work and live (as in your full address) is always counteractive to your safety and freedom of speech. Twitter users are like the FBI, and even the wrong hands have this power- be careful!

2. What you say and how you say it should depend on your brand and the role it plays in your community.

I personally agree that situations such as these should be okay to break your professional brand. However, don't let the animosity from commenters reel you in and set you up. Anything you say can be reported to your jobs. Sometimes I have alot of trouble remembering to hold back my anger when replying to the most ignorant or dehumanizing of comments, so this one is one of my favorites to remember. If you have a personal profile separate and untied to work, feel free but still tread lightly.

3. Be aware of the rules and guidelines your career/ sponsors have for your usage of social media. 

Stay up to date so you know what you are in your right to do! Many jobs have anti-political policies (which sucks but that's beyond the point) so stay in the know, that way you won't risk your income by trying to help. 

4. If you can't speak your mind, share links to donation or helpful pages instead.

Any help and awareness is good help and awareness. This one just protects your peace while also bringing about change. It shows you are in support even if you cannot say so. ***DO NOT DO THIS ON PROFESSIONAL PAGES!

 

Social Media Activism Tips to Avoid Burn-out and Trauma

1. Avoid videos unless you have the heart to see them. Pace yourself in viewing them or find a text description/ transcription

I personally cannot fathom all of the crimes against humanity I am witnessing right now. There's videos of protestors losing eyes to rubber bullets, babies being maced, Medic volunteers being attacked for helping support, and the press being belittled and agonized. God, it is awful. There's also videos of past police brutality that are coming back to light. PRESERVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH! Look in the comments for clues on whether or not you are ready to witness these things. If you know it will traumatize you, look or ask for a text description so that you still get the full facts. Many of these things are hard to watch.

2. BLOCK BUTTON

My coworker's personal favorite is the block button to avoid burnout. I typically do it when a debate gets too heated or I feel my safety or mental health threatened. But it is a beautiful button to use when it is needed. You can even block certain key words if you need more of a break. Just don't block to the point where your news is getting one-sided or altered. It's always important to remember how the other side thinks.

3. Don't expect to change someones mind

Especially when it comes to racism. If you're like me and thrive on debating (arguing for some) in the comments, please do not think it is useless! Do not debate with the sole intent of changing someones mind. Many people are stuck in their ways, especially if they are older. Debate with the intent to inform and educate. Someone who is on the fence is looking at these tweets and comments. They are forming an opinion based off of what the public is saying. You could make or break what their beliefs. You may be changing several minds other than your target's. 

4. (The same tip also applies to Allies) Yes You Are Helping

The point of social media activism is to spread awareness! Even if you believe it is falling on death ears or are told that it's not a real support. You are helping by spreading awareness. If you want to take your help a step up, provide links that tell people where they can donate or links to resources and help. Thank you for your contribution!!!

 

Social Media Activism Tips For Allies

1. Empathy, not sympathy. 

And this can go beyond just protests or events for black lives. The same applies with Pride, Indigenous peoples, etc. The goal is not for you to feel sorry for us. The goal is for you to understand why we need change, why we want change, or what the problem is.

2. Do not tell the oppressed how to feel!!!

You cannot dictate how someone feels on a situation that you will not likely experience. If you are here to help do that by showing support, not by trying to dictate the narrative. 

3. Embrace criticism

Being an ally means making mistakes. It means unlearning what you have been raised with or taught. That's not cut dry and simple. This means you will make mistakes, you will take a mis-step. Embrace criticism, use it as a learning tool. If you do not understand, ask questions. If someone is angry with you, deesculate the situation. Remember that you are here to learn and help and not to be defensive and prideful. You are learning, and that is okay.

4. Comment, comment, comment

It is more likely that someone will listen to you than me, or than my sisters and brothers. Be like Tim Wise and use your privilege to get through to those who will not take it from a minority. Use it to teach! Listen to us, ask us questions, understand us and then spread that knowledge to the crowds who won't hear it from us! Thank you! And if you don't know who Tim Wise is, please take the time to watch one of his speeches. He is a national treasure. (This also works with many other social issues as well)

 

I hope these tips work well for you (especially the ones that help to deal with trauma)! Once again, these are personal tips so please feel free to tweak them and apply what you need!