Retweeting Doesn’t Make You A Social Justice Advocate

Viharachard Dorval/Contributing Writer

When I first heard news coverage on the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, I immediately logged onto Twitter. After clicking hashtag after hashtag, soaking up as much information as I could, my blood began to boil as I read the gruesome details. I saw a 30-second clip of the shooter moments before he opened fire. Printed across the screen were the fatalities: a total of nine victims, including the shooter’s sister.

Anger, confusion and, of course, urgency, hit me all at once. I channeled my frustration through Twitter’s 250 character limit, creating a series of informative yet quirky, relatable tweets. I finished off about four strongly worded Facebook posts before I logged off, feeling accomplished.

In my head, I wasn’t a bystander; I was an influencer using her platforms to promote awareness. After my act of public service, I quickly went on with my day. The next morning, when I logged back on to Twitter to read any other information on the shooting, I was quickly distracted by an article on processed food. 

Other than a few posts, was I concerned at all about the issue at hand? My Twitter post had reached around 1,500 others experiencing the same emotions, but it didn’t change anything other than my follower count. I had no intentions of attending any meetings or doing any research on current gun laws. As long as I could log off, the horrors going on around the world didn’t exist. And, with over 300 million people using social media, I highly doubt that I am alone.

As important as it is to stay informed and create dialogue when reacting to tragedy, it’s just as important to take action. It’s one thing to post about the need for gun control and Flint, Michigan’s need for clean water, but without following up with real research and solutions, your feelings and concerns remain as such, just feelings and concerns. 

71 percent of Twitter users are using the app to stay informed on current events, according to the Pew Research Center. With the rise of digital news over the past decade, millennials and Generation Zers have used these social platforms to get informed.

But social media seems to provide users with an inflated sense of self-righteousness. While it has allowed us to spark a dialogue and promote real change, it’s merely a stepping stone for what should happen next. Without donations, time, resources or following up, your blog post does nothing but boost your following. What you do in the real world is what matters most.

Having a call to action is vital. Emma González, survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, has become a household name. González channeled her frustration and trauma into activism after the 2018 tragedy. She used social media to urge people to attend rallies and protest fighting for gun control laws. Her two million Twitter followers stay informed and learn about ways they can improve the state of our country.

Desmond Napoles, an 11-year-old LGBTQ activist, used his social media platform to cultivate the first ever drag house for kids in the wake of oppression in his community. 

The platforms we have access to shouldn’t have us hunched over our screens waiting for the next tragedy. Millennials must be determined to make an impact and use them to promote real societal progression.

Featured photo by Billie Ward on Wikicommons.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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