We’re experiencing a truly unique social climate in the United States, one that is magnified by the comments and conversations happening in online spaces all over the internet. We’ve noticed that while so much good can come from posting photos, comments and links about social causes, a lot of inaction takes place online, as well.
Social media activism can certainly make life-changing impacts on humanitarian issues, but sometimes we allow ourselves to share posts and thoughts without pairing those online comments with real world follow-through. Well-intentioned posts are made without any indication that practical steps are being taken off-screen to create long lasting change. As the development director for a nonprofit organization, I’ve seen the profound impact made by people willing to walk the walk by being prepared to link online posts with tangible, life-changing actions. While social media plays an integral role in our organization’s long-term strategy, especially in terms of donor relations, our staff knows that real change ultimately comes about as the result of passion-turned-action, most often through service and financial support.
Read on to gather ideas and inspiration for transforming your beliefs into world-changing action:
Immerse Yourself in Knowledge
In this day and age of the internet, blogs, and real-time social media posts, it can be tough to sort through opinions in an effort to identify facts and figures as they relate to issues we care about.
It’s tempting to make comments in haste, unintentionally racing against the clock to make your opinions heard. While we wholeheartedly believe in standing up to share your beliefs, we also advocate on behalf of doing your research first, ensuring that your thoughts, sources, and arguments are sound. By educating yourself on the topics you are passionate about, you equip yourself to discuss differing opinions in a healthy, strong way. Utilizing logic over feelings can empower you to communicate your thoughts in a clear, linear manner, one that prevents you from being misunderstood.
Find Common Ground
On the flip side, educate yourself on opposing topics and viewpoints in order to keep an open mind. By familiarizing yourself with different arguments (whether you view them to be valid or not), you open your heart and mind to the opinion of others. This allows you to stay more wholly informed, preparing you to receive differing opinions with the grace and understanding needed to have a productive conversation instead of one filled with anger and frustration.
Identifying commonalities with those who might not think the same way you do can allow you to better empathize and express compassion for respective situations. Practicing empathy creates a calm, nurturing environment (both online and in person), one that encourages others to share their thoughts in a kind, open manner. By creating safe spaces for sharing different (and sometimes opposing) viewpoints, you can start engaging in loving conversations that have the power to change the current state of discourse happening online — and in real life.
Get Some Skin in the Game
Seek out practical opportunities that support the posts you share online. It’s one thing to comment or share a photo about a social issue on Instagram; it’s a different thing altogether to take action offline.
Sign up for a volunteer training session for a non-profit organization that matters to you — and then commit to volunteering on a monthly basis. Raise money for a cause that is changing your community by signing up to make recurring monthly donations or hosting a fundraising event. Gather your like-minded family members and friends and start an accountability group that serves or donates together, encouraging one another to continue championing your shared cause.
… real change ultimately comes about as the result of passion-turned-action …
The key here is to establish repetitive behavior, whether through service or donating. One-time volunteer opportunities or donations are certainly good, but real change comes from leaning in and committing to the causes you support on a daily basis. By coupling your beliefs with tangible actions, you are taking gigantic strides towards creating powerful, lasting change in your community.