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4 Ways to Practice Better Social Media Activism & Allyship

What is Social Media Allyship?

“A lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.” - Forbes

Allyship through the lens of social media can take on many forms. Not everyone will impact change by marching at a protest or storming the steps of their local city hall. Some will show up by using social media to highlight donation resources, amplify the voices of those who’ve been marginalized, or to help organize rallies and meetings that aid in building stronger, more equitable communities.

Using your resources, privilege, or platform for the advancement of inclusion and cultural representation is the touchstone of true allyship. There’s no wrong way to do this. Sure, performative allyship can be and is harmful. But if your intentions are pure and you’re willing to put action behind those intentions, your contributions are essential to help solve the problems we all face.

Because of this, allyship and mental and emotional wellness work in lock-step. Lending your time, extending your hand, giving a voice to those who’ve been muted, are all means of balancing wellness in a time where emotional instability is all but promised. Giving without a need for something in return allows you to pour into yourself by filling another’s cup. The good you give is what helps restore you.

Today we’re exploring the emerging shift in social media allyship and its impact on not only social justice but digital wellness.

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Social Media Activism & Allyship Tip #1: Listen, Unlearn, and Reshare

The very first step towards becoming a better social media ally is by listening with an unbiased ear. Strip away what you think you know and begin the process of challenging your views.

Tapping into a new way of seeing things means unlearning what you previously assumed to be true. It means tearing down past notions and building a frame of reference by listening to those with firsthand experience of inequality, marginalization, or racism. There will be discomfort in this process – embrace it. You might be faced with some hard truths. Remember: change can’t happen without discomfort.

Lastly, after you’ve listened and re-educated yourself, start to share with you’ve learned to your followers. Give them the same information that has helped you; uplift the voices that activated your clarity; outline the resources where your followers can learn more. Allyship isn’t just about listening and unlearning, it’s also about passing on what you’ve learned to others. You’ll also find that this type of activism provides a jolt to your self-care.  

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Social Media Activism & Allyship Tip #2: Amplify Creative Activism

An unsung hero in the age of digital activism is the role art plays as a co-agitator. Many of us are visual learners. We see the world through art, shapes, and media. Often times, those mediums are what it takes to help an ally understand their role in the fight to dismantle oppressive systems and structures.

Artists of color are creating incredible works as their form of protest or rebellion. Sharing and amplifying that work is a form of creative allyship – or creative activism.

Passing on these disruptive creations is a powerful form of allyship. It speaks to the very common method of visual learning and the fact that allyship can and should be innovative. Amplifying creative activism is a non-traditional approach to allyship that can help solve very traditional problems.

Have you noticed an uptick in social justice slideshows all over your timeline and your IG Stories? This is creative activism at work.

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Social Media Activism & Allyship Tip #3: Use Inclusive Language

Exploring the way we use and understand language is a huge part of social media allyship. Words have power whether they’re used correctly or not. And if you hope to make a difference, you have to learn how to make the distinction between what’s right and what’s problematic.

Use language that speaks to all people and all walks of life. Inclusion isn’t just about opportunities; it’s also about speaking life into groups of people through verbal representation.

For example, when thinking about allyship as it relates to gender issues, a word like strong is widely considered to be a masculine identifier. Use terms like sound, steady, excellent, or solid instead. These words are more inclusive of all gender types. Thoughtfulness and allyship are tied into emphatic intelligence.

Using your words properly implies that you care about the impact those words carry. It also says that you’ve adapted your thinking to meet the needs of all people, not just those close to you.

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Social Media Activism & Allyship Tip #4: Start on Social Media, Finish IRL

Social media is the ultimate connector. It allows us to navigate and disrupt spaces far beyond our physical reach. But at some point what you start online must be finished in real life.

Leveraging your social platforms to fight racism, gender inequality, or any form of marginalization represents the starting point of allyship. Yet true co-agitation requires action from your body. Walk in a march, hold up a sign at a protest, attend a town hall meeting, or make your presence felt at a fundraiser or boycott.

There are levels to allyship. Social media is the starting point, doing good in the real world is where you finish.

Allyship is about taking charge of your agency to create the change you hope to see. It’s about turning privilege into purpose. It’s about normalizing unlearning when presented with new information.

But most of all, allyship is about engaging in the work that keeps you up at night so that eventually you can sleep well.



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Darren Griffin

Darren Griffin was a contributing Senior Writer at PLANOLY. His expertise includes culture, fashion, and social media marketing.

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