It Is Vital to Sustain Secular Activism Year Round

Winter forest conifer snow

There are some good reasons to use social media in the context of secular activism. Raising awareness is one of the big ones. People are unlikely to engage with issues they've never heard of or may not see as relevant. Using social media to amplify stories is often helpful.

In "We Have To Keep Paying Attention: Engaging With Church-State Separation Beyond When It’s Trending," Katherine Yordy (Americans United for Separation of Church and State) wrote:

Sharing information online is one of the quickest ways to bring people up to speed on what’s happening. Social media can amplify the voices of the oppressed, organize entire movements and spotlight injustice when we share and engage with posts. Just because it’s quick and easy, however, doesn’t mean we should not be intentional in our usage.

She makes a good point. I suspect this is one of the main reasons so many are unhappy with what's been happening at Twitter. One of the tools in our activist bag no longer functions like it used to.

No matter what platforms one uses, information overload and burnout are problems. To highlight the challenge reflected in her title, Yordy notes:

We can only contend with so many things at once, and when an injustice or act of oppression doesn’t become a trending topic, trying to get others to acknowledge it can feel like screaming into a void. Politicians capitalize on this combination of burnout, desensitization and chaos to quietly pass swathes of legislation that contradict our rights like the freedom of religion.

She's right. I'm sure many of us can relate to that sense of screaming into a void. I know I can. Some things, like our rights, are too important to leave to chance. How can we make sure our cause isn't soon forgotten?

On the question of how we stay engaged year-round, Yordy suggests the following:

Take stock of the issues you care most about. Next, take stock of who you already follow across platforms. Accounts that only post about trending topics are useful but cannot replace issue-specific ones. Then, research people and organizations who are focused on the issues you care about and follow them...
Finally, continue sharing posts and encouraging people to educate themselves on what is happening at all levels of government. Election results are important, but so is what happens after them.

She's putting the onus on us, individual activists who use social media. I'd add that secular organizations, like hers, have an important part to play too. Effective activism has to involve more than fear and outrage.

Those who want to see more consistent engagement from activists need to embrace more sustainable activism. They need to recognize that the tactics on which they rely are burning out activists. These organizations need to develop more sustainable methods of motivating secular activism. This would go a long way toward maintaining engagement throughout the year.

Image by Else Siegel from Pixabay