Twenty-five million people in Afghanistan face extreme hunger, but humanitarian organizations, like the United Nations Human Rights Agency, who seek to combat the issue, lack proper funding. A year ago, when the media’s spotlight still shone blindingly over the country’s collapse, funding might not have been an issue.
GoFundMe and Instagram stories helped the Taliban takeover garner media attention and temporary financial support for those affected until users’ focus shifted to the Next Big Issue and the wave of social media infographics petered out of peoples’ stories.
However, despite the attention, Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis has worsened, throwing its economy and human rights advancements into flames.
The Taliban takeover is not the only issue that had its 15 minutes of fame on social media. Police brutality, antisemitism, the military regime in Myanmar, school shootings and countless more are victims of these “activism cycles,” where users on online platforms swarm to discuss urgent issues, but only until there is a more captivating one.
These cycles reinforce the idea that collectively, we must look past Twitter or other social media platforms for news and instead rely on verifiable news sources as methods of being politically aware.
By following social media’s quick cycles of frenzied attention when an issue trends, we do nothing to understand nor meaningfully address the issue.
Instead, it is imperative that everyone be civically engaged since these skills are vital to the health of society. Falling prey to activism cycles that focus on deeply-rooted problems for short periods of time shifts society into a dangerous contraption that is ignorant and sets issues aflame.
Engage in meaningful conversations centered around the voices of those most vulnerable. Go to congressional town halls and propose policy recommendations.Vote for county, congressional or presidential candidates who believe in your core values. Read reliable news sources that cover pressing issues from multiple lenses.
A one-time story or donation does nothing to further an issue.
Advocacy and activism are continuous pursuits; they do not end once the media spotlight shifts to another atrocity. Posting about an issue once will not directly ignite tangible change. It is about time we understand the world around us and its issues, not the ones defined by the thin lens of social media.