Activism Online

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By Brad Brinkley

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 10 of VARSITY News.


It’s easy to be a social justice warrior. There are two steps: find a popular cause (usually one that benefits your own interests) and let everyone know how virtuous you are by flooding their feed with your ‘activism’. Next week, however, this cause will be forgotten, and you’ll continue to post pictures of your duck pout. When the time comes to do real activism, such as contributing to a debate (not shouting down the people who oppose you), or becoming part of the solution, the Facebook freedom fighters are scarce.


I believe that social media is a useful tool to spread awareness for socio-political issues. Its value lies in the fact that it spreads people’s opinions. Before these platforms, information about these causes was only spread through published sources, such as newspapers. One could argue that this was often insufficient due to times of government censorship. Even now, some think that powerful people or companies use their influence to suppress damning information about themselves.


The danger of spreading opinions is that it can often be based on false premises, which results in fake news. Words on social media can be manipulated, while images are doctored. It is not unreasonable for someone to form their opinion from something that their friends said on social media, however, there is too much trust based in the validity of the sources. Pick any cliché when perusing activism online such as “don’t believe everything you read,” or “take it with a pinch of salt”.


An opinion cannot be wrong; however, it can be ignorant. Social media is just one source that must be consulted when creating opinions on socio-political issues. Just like in an essay, the best arguments come from a well-informed writer who draws from a multitude of credible sources. Unfortunately, this includes evaluating arguments from both sides, which is a difficult task for most.


Social media is a valuable supplementary source, however, when creating your opinion, be careful of the temporary Twitter troopers.Hear them, but inform yourself properly before copying their ideas.



This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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