Social media ‘advocacy’ lame without voting

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Cartoon by Alan Luna

Cartoon by Alan Luna

On June 11, 1963 a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk set himself on fire in the middle of a downtown Saigon street. Thích Quảng Đức was an advocate for Buddhist liberty and against the South Vietnamese Diem regime’s pro-Catholic policies.
Today’s advocacy looks different. People will click “like,” retweet and use clever hashtags to feel as if they are participating in a cause. It is important to recognize what separates real advocacy from pseudo-advocacy and the effects of these two methods of activism.
Real advocacy stems from tangible actions through participation in movements and consistent behaviors supporting the movement being advocated. Such actions are observable in the present-day through activists like Malala Yousafzai, who showed resilience in attending school against the orders of local Taliban leaders in Pakistan banning girls from attending school. Malala was shot three times on the way to school. Since then she has used her experiences to advocate for women’s right to education.
Some, however, feign advocacy for their social presence and satisfy their own moral compasses by effortlessly posting on social media without taking initiative to assist their alleged cause. At least 128 were killed during the attacks in Paris, according to CNN. In response, thousands of Facebook users changed their profile pictures to resemble the Paris flag without aiding any anti-ISIS campaigns or sending financial help to a devastated city.
By not participating wholeheartedly in a movement, the status quo is allowed to continue unchecked. Supporting a presidential candidate on social media but not sharing his or her platform, not attending organizational meetings and not voting does nothing to help the candidate’s campaign.
Only 19.9 percent of 18-29 year-old American citizens voted in the last midterm election, according to Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bernie Sanders scored an impressive 407,000 mentions online on the night of the first Democratic Debate, more than all other Democratic candidates combined. He will not make it past the party primaries, however, unless his supporters vote.
Exercising openness, allowing criticism from others and thinking critically in an unbiased fashion moves us down the path to personal reform. It is the unwillingness to accept change that leads to toxic traditions maintaining a place in the modern world. If they continue being swept under the rug, these issues will never be addressed.

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