With the world constantly moving around us, we are bombarded with information every single day regarding current events, politics, and what someone ate for breakfast—as well as everything in between. Specifically for teens, a lot of this information is received through social media, whether it be someone’s Instagram story, a Tik Tok video, or a Snap. Because of this prevalence, social media is one of the easiest ways to spread knowledge.
Social media activism involves (but is not limited to) spreading awareness through the usage of hashtags, posts, and stories. With just a single click, you can repost anything on your story to share with hundreds, possibly thousands of people. It is gratifying to share valuable knowledge with others, knowing that you are educating people.
It seems easy enough, right? Just doing research, posting, or campaigning virtually.
Well, not necessarily.
Activism, even online, can be grueling. Having your feed be flooded with all the horrible things going on in the world is draining. Having to constantly debate people about politics or even human rights is exhausting and infuriating. Of course, as an activist, debates and conflicts are to be expected, but arguing with people constantly can take a toll on your mental health.
Without a way to moderate your engagement with online activism, you could potentially experience activism burnout: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.
Social media activism is a great way to bring about social or political change. It is the most convenient way to spread a message, and some may feel a sense of duty or obligation in doing something to ease universal struggles. However, mental health is also important. You should not have to choose between campaigning for the greater good and your own wellbeing.
Finding a balance between activism and mental health is key to your overall welfare. To prevent burnout, one can minimize tension and anxiety through activities that provide stress relief, which vary from person to person (like art, music or sports). Designating certain periods of time for activism can also be beneficial for time management by reducing activism related stress.
Taking breaks as you need is necessary for you to keep doing the work you love. To prevent yourself from burning out, mental health maintenance is essential.
Carter, Sherrie Bourg. “The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout ... Do You Have Them?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 26 Nov. 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them.
“Avoid Activist Burnout and Sustain Your Commitment to Community.” Avoid Activist Burnout and Sustain Your Commitment to Community | Lesley University, Lesley University, lesley.edu/article/avoid-activist-burnout-and-sustain-your-commitment-to-community.
Willoughby, Vanessa. “Here's How to Recover from Activism Burnout.” Rewire, Rewire, 11 Jan. 2019, www.rewire.org/activism-burnout-recover/.