Leaving Causes Behind: Trending Activism That Fades Before Making Change

By Katie Bedard 
Elm Staff Writer

Political activism is a serious topic. From advocating for the end of animal cruelty to marching to promote stricter gun control, many would assume that taking a stance means that people feel passionately about long-lasting change. In the past few years, there’s been a rise of fad activism, or activism that only lasts a few weeks or months.

Anyone who’s ever been on Facebook or Twitter has probably come across a friend or family member who has posted something that demands change or invokes a sense of anger. Maybe it’s your friend from college sharing a pro-animal shelter meme, or an estranged uncle posting an Obama conspiracy theory. Most of the time, talking and posting is the extent of their commitment to a cause.

There are several reasons why someone would be a part of fad activism: they often times don’t have the time or money to be on the issue as much as they wish, or they’re doing it more for attention or charity points, or that the issue isn’t as important as they act as it is and easily forget about it later.

“Today’s politics are characterized by a dangerous combination of ignorance and raw emotion,” said Anna Mitchell and Philip Clark in the Stanford Review, the independent newspaper for Stanford University.

Since 2014, the U.S. was outraged to learn of the dangerous levels of lead found in Flint, Mich.’s water. Today, despite all that was said, they still do not have proper drinking water. In fact, many of Flint’s citizens feel as though they no longer know who to trust.

“It feels as though Americans have forgotten about one of the most horrifying examples of government malfeasance and environmental racism in recent memory: The Flint Water Crisis,” said Philip Louis for The Huffington Post. “When the cameras and celebrities left, thousands of poor, now poisoned Flint residents, including infants and children, remained. And we’ve all but abandoned them.”

It seems a cause is only as great as the media attention it receives. We all make promises to fight against the injustices we see, but then cast our beliefs aside when something new pops up. Recently, this constantly changing attention has increased with the never-ending onslaught of political issues that have come up during the current administration.

The truth of the matter is just because you don’t hear about a cause anymore, doesn’t mean that it’s resolved. In fact, most of the time the crisis only worsens when it gets shoved under the rug. When that happens, we show the victims of these issues that their safety and well-being is only as important as the number of likes and shares it can garner.

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