Editorial: Don’t just share, act!
Climate change has been a growing cause of concern for people across the globe for years. We see the effects of climate change everywhere: across the news, on the internet, through social media and, for some of us, even first hand.
However, for those of us who are lucky enough to live in a place that has yet to be noticeably affected by the changing climate, it can be easy to acknowledge what you see and simply move on with your life.
With the rise of social media activism, I am concerned that a number of people who present themselves as activists through their online persona do not actually act in accordance with the beliefs that they voice.
And I get it – when you see something horrible about how the Amazon rainforest has been burning for weeks or that a record number of species are on the brink of extinction, it makes you angry and upset. You want the world to know about these injustices and social media is often seen as the best way to spread public awareness.
But the sad reality is that once people share a couple of posts on Facebook and Instagram, they go back to business as usual. Those few clicks of the share button have made them feel like they have done their part and can move on with their lives until the next big crisis comes to light.
Now don’t get me wrong, social media is a valuable tool to promote awareness and incite change, but in the case of climate change it may be doing us a disservice. Anyone and everyone with access to a computer or the daily news is aware of climate change and its detrimental effects – at this point you would have to be willfully ignorant not to be.
Climate change does not need more awareness through social media; we are all painfully aware of it, now more than ever. The world does not need thousands of people sharing an image of the melting icebergs or dying coral reefs with half-assed captions about how upset they are – it needs real, tangible change of actions and habits. Your social media activism won’t help save the planet, your behavioural changes will, but many people choose to ignore this fact.
This may sound harsh, but if you’re someone who preaches to the choir about how the worlds need to collectively change on Facebook but maintains the same unproductive habits, you don’t actually care about the climate crisis, you care about people thinking that you do.
One of the best things you as an individual can do to fight against climate crisis is vote with your dollar. The large industries and companies which contribute most to climate change are driven by customer demand, so by reducing the demand you can help reduce their environmental impact. By eating less meat, shopping at thrift stores, using public transit, and looking into low waste and sustainable product replacements you are making choices which will actually make a difference.
Half of the people I see bombarding their social media pages with messages about saving the planet, I also see eating meat every day, shopping at fast fashion locations and ordering products with copious amounts of packaging.
I understand breaking bad habits can be hard, and creating new ones for yourself can be even harder, but if people truly cared as much as they say they do on social media they would put in the effort. If your actions don’t reflect your words, no matter where your heart is or what your intentions are, those words are empty.
Empty words won’t save our planet.