Will the real activists please stand up? In a social-media crazed society, insignificant measures are seen as influential. A mere "RT" on a Twitter post, "like" on a Facebook status or "tag" on an Instagram photo has become the mechanism to create change. A rise in fake activism has emerged. The millennial generation feels perfectly content using social networking as their main method of catalyzing needed change in the global community.
Every year, a different Facebook trend emerges for breast cancer awareness. Recently, I was alarmed by a myriad of strange Facebook statuses from my friends over the course of a week. Curiously, I "liked" one in hopes of uncovering the roots of this movement. Five minutes later, I saw a message in my inbox informing me that since I "liked" the status I would need to post one of my own to raise awareness about breast cancer research. The 14 status options included: "damn diarrhea," "just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket," "no toilet paper, goodbye socks" and "I've decided to stop wearing underwear."
My 14 choices all had two things in common: they were all completely absurd and did nothing to raise awareness about breast cancer. Only gullible likers of the statuses were even informed that the purpose was to raise breast cancer awareness. Furthermore, strange posts of this nature do little to either raise awareness about breast cancer or help fund research to cure the devastating disease.
Especially on Twitter, fake activism runs rampant. Numerous tweets state a message synonymous with "something tragic happened. RT this post or you have no heart." The logic behind this movement is flawed because a retweet does not prove that somebody really cares about a cause. A spoonful of sugar does not change the world. I aspire to be an advocate for those in need, but only through channels that actually catalyze meaningful impacts.
A tweet can get a million retweets, but the chances remain slim that the tweet actually saved somebody's life. Instead of retweeting meaningless posts, people should strive to actively make a difference in the lives of others. Make a donation, start a fundraiser, volunteer at a hospital or run a race for a cause you care about: the only criterion is to actually help a person instead of resorting to a convenient, fruitless retweet.
Our generation has become apathetic. In a world where our iPhones are like security blankets we must put them down sometimes. The teenagers of the 21st century have a mettle that outruns any other generation, but it must be channeled in the right ways. am not saying that we need to cure cancer or raise a million dollars each, but instead that we need to take a leap in the right direction.
The world is full of possibilities. Take advantage of every opportunity to make meaningful change. If you hear about a volunteer position at the local hospital? Take it. If somebody asks you to run a 5K race with them to raise money for cancer research? Lace up your sneakers. If you see a donation box for a cause you care about? Donate.
One act of kindness at a time, we can build a better tomorrow. Make a switch from "YOLO" to "carpe diem" -- seize the day instead of living like there's no tomorrow. With an influx of real activism, a more prosperous community will begin to emerge.
Turn down the retweets, and turn up the philanthropy instead.