New comic


Comic Strip by Justine Johns

All through history, activism took on different forms from art, essays, demonstrations, propaganda to rebellions and since 1990s; the internet became a device and a means for activism in itself. The Arab Spring sure did play a major role in pushing out activism into the mainstream media by using it as a tool to organize and spread information (Brym Robert, et al., 2014). This transition shows how movements and organizations are slowly adapting social media as their primary weapon for deriving action for social change. 

“The power of social media is it forces necessary change”.  – Erick Qualman

I use social media mainly for interaction to keep in touch with my friends, family and work colleagues. Whereas an activist uses this platform more as a tool to create awareness, educate or call for an action to connect with a large audience at a faster rate, than using the traditional method.

Back in time,  activism was all about physical demonstrations like sitting under hot sunny days, shouting slogans, typing long letters, walking miles to make a point and so on but thanks to social media now one can have a hot cup of coffee, sit under the air conditioner, produce short creative materials and make the world shake  by connecting like-minded people. What makes online activism more efficient and interesting from the traditional means is not in its overarching goals; but in the form and methods, users from all levels connect and participate towards a specific cause. In other words, Internet has altered the traditional means of communication in its extent and ways by addressing the problem online to drive engagement and a call for action.


Activism photos by Lorie Shaull, Jamelle Bouie and Beth Rankin (CC BY 2.0)

Take for instance, the 2015 #BlackLivesMatter against the police brutality in Ferguson that called in for a massive outcry on twitter in support for social justice and racial equality Bennett (Swanson, M 2017). The #MarriageEquality with users changing their profiles to rainbow color in support and celebrating the legalization of same sex marriage. Even our former President Barack Obama used online activism efficiently to accomplish amazing level of success in his presidential election campaign in 2008.


Traditional to online activism, Photos by Andrew Crump and David Shankbone (CC BY 2.0)

The traditional media would no longer need to frame the news for us when we could be the source and the providers for news. Also, the Information received through the media is limited in its participation and is mostly a one sided process. Take for example a television or a radio interview, even though it is an interview where one can voice their thoughts or debate on a topic, it is still restricted in its scale, timeliness and the amount of engagement or discussions it could have presented originally.

Social media is different, it connects one to many. Online networking has an enormous and growing audience who are tremendously engaged in different online activities. Statistics indicate that there are 500 million Tweets sent out everyday, 4 billion YouTube clicks per day and 1.23 billion monthly users active on Facebook (Smith,2014). In addition, it is not just about the growing online numbers and peoples involvement that is just noteworthy. Money is being traded and contributed through this platform at a very high level like for fundraising, mainly seen among non-for profit organizations, whose aim is not just creating awareness but anticipate their online presence and efforts will bring about an action, ideally as donations too.

Online media is dramatically changing and rewriting rules of activism through its mainstream approach. It is opening doors through its extent and the level of action it can derive. So why not use this online media judiciously for influencing and bring about change? So remember, next time you believe you are voiceless, try switching to social media.


Bennett Swanson, M 2017, ‘ Media Coverage of Black Lives Matter’, Critique: A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics, pp. 98-130, Political Science Complete, EBSCOhost, Retrieved 27 July 2017, Deakin Library.

Brym Robert, et al., 2014,’Social media in the 2011 Egyptian uprising’, British Journal of Sociology, vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 266-292. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12080.

Smith, C, 2014, How Many People Use 415 of the Top Social Media, Apps and Tools? Digital Marketing Ramblings, Retrieved 28 July 2017, < http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/how-many-people-use-social-media/#.U0-QMa1dWIcWatson,>.



  1. Hi Justine,

    Great read thanks for sharing! I though the beginning graphic was a really effective way to draw you in and engage you in the topic. The heading as well as the the sub headings or quotes throughout added to this. Overall your style of writing was fluent, consistent and appropriate for the audience.

    One thing to improve on is the word length as it was a bit short. I would love to see the blog expanded on how the everyday user can be an activist and how that would work, this may work with your heading as well as the last point in the blog. But there were also lots of other points that could be fleshed out instead!

    Another little point not related to the content but there is a widget on the left of the blog needs text added. Otherwise great first blog and cant wait to read more from you.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. A really interesting topic, and easy to read. I thought the use of graphics was effective at illustrating the points you made and keeping the audience engaged.

    The stats you mention – 500 million Tweets a day, 1.23 billion monthly users active on Facebook and 4 billion YouTube clicks a day – are phenomenal. Given the sheer amount of content that reaches us every day, it would be worthwhile looking at questions of ‘cut through’. Yes, it’s right we can all have a voice on issues we care about but, how do we make our voices heard in an already very crowded room. Some exploration of that would add a valuable perspective to the blog I think.

    Another aspect to this is that we now, through social media, have a gateway through to decision makers (or at least their advisers and communications teams!) like we have never had before.

    Looking forward to your next blog Justine

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Justine,

    Thank you for a really great blog, I found it super interesting it is especially intriguing how social media has become the new platform to make your voice heard around the world. Some other great examples were the Dakota pipeline (The standing rock) late last year, take a look at this article https://www.wired.com/2017/01/social-media-made-world-care-standing-rock-helped-forget/

    Also just a few things, on the left hand side of your page it looks as if you have not deleted the information on text widgets and also it looks like the text changes size in one area (the President Obama line).

    Besides that your blog was great and I really enjoyed your writing style!




  4. Hi Justine – thanks for an interesting read! Maybe I’m biased, as I’m really interested in how social and digital media can drive social change. Plenty of food for thought in your post, especially for the offers of convenience that social media provides; this prompts the subsequent question of what it takes for online social action to be meaningful, and transcend the dreaded ‘slacktivism’. I’d also be interested in exploring more the strategies that digital activists might take to ensure success, particularly when competing with those colossal numbers you mentioned (how does an activists little Youtube video cut through the noise of the billions of Youtube clicks every day?). Thanks for the post!


  5. Hi Justine,

    After reading your blog, I must say I thought about other famous movements and activists during the past century and wonder if and how their campaigns would have differed or been enhanced through social media. Imagine the outcome for Nelson Mandela or Germaine Greer if social media had existed in their day? They managed to create change without such a platform, so one must ask with this new wave of online activism, do we have an even create responsibility since it’s easier to get the message out there.

    Overall, I think your blog is the most eye-catching that I’ve read so far. The use of colour and powerful imagery as well as your style of writing was clear and concise and obviously for me…thought provoking. Yes, blogs should be read, but the reader should also walk away questioning the topic and subject matter and think about it further. Your blog did that for me.




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