When I think about digital leadership, online activism is the main idea. I think back to last summer when George Floyd was murdered. Since it was the beginning of the pandemic at that time, I was heavy on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. And I don’t know if it’s because when the previous Black Lives Matter protests happened, I wasn’t on social media then, but the outpour of attention for George Floyd’s wrongful death caused was unbelievable. I would go on Twitter one day and see a random person tweet a link to a petition for George Floyd’s family and Gofundme, and the next day, that same tweet would have thousands of likes. By the end of the week, that same tweet has hundreds of thousands of likes, and it prompts others to tweet links of similar stories or ways to help even more. That’s what I believe Online activism is, bringing awareness to an issue you are passionate about or you want to see change via the web/ social media. Simply retweeting a link or post or making one post of ways to help can be considered online activism. Digital leadership is similar. I think more collaborative and innovative tactics to get attention are where they are similar.
I know that online activism can be very powerful. This summer has proved that. With a platform like TikTok informing younger audiences of the facts that other news sources are not saying is a way of promoting effective change. There is a lot of fake outrage (that will always happen), but I think this summer’s events have proven that online activism was a driving force in seeing results. I remember when Derek Chauvin (the officer who arrested George Floyd) was being charged with only second-degree unintentional murder charges. I believe it was the public and media’s pressure that prompted them to change it to the third degree. I was also educated on why he must get a third-degree murder charge. It’s situations like that that make me believe that a person, whether they are behind a keyboard, can create change. Though we still have a very long way to go, and we are still uncertain about what will happen next, I am confident that the noise made by online and social media users can be heard.
I think that all the petitions that gained traction last summer on platforms on Twitter are good examples. Petitions to raise the degree for Derek Chauvin’s murder charge, the tweeted links for George Floyd’s families Gofundme, or the petition to actually have all the officers arrested because at first, they were still roaming free. All of the tiktoks educating others on police brutality in this country and bringing light to why Black Lives Matter is a movement in the first place. When the elections were about to start, I couldn’t even go on social media without seeing someone tweet or post about registering to vote or even submitting my absentee ballot. This past year has shown how much social media has a significant influence and can bring effective change.