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A guide to online activism

Yes! I am ready to riot! I am ready to start a revolution!

Or at least, I am ready to start a spreading a meaningful message. There’s so much we can and have to improve in our world, and I want to contribute to this. I am so grateful that you want this too. Only together we can make a change. That’s why I want to give you some inspiration on (online) activism. With this blog I hope to inspire you, to use your voice and your power to do something good.

Because: how can we do this? How can we make activism a success in this globalised online world? I am here to help you!

A 5 step guide to online activism

1. Motivation

I really believe motivation is key for success in general. Why do you want to contribute to activism? Only for the attention? Or do you genuinely believe in improving the world and making it a better place? Get your motivations straight, so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s okay if your motivations shift throughout the process, that’s normal, so don’t judge yourself for that. For example: first I started eating vegan for health reasons, now I do it for the animals and the planet too. Your motivation can shift or expand over time.

2. Knowledge

If you’re going to convince someone to change their habits or mindset, you better know what you’re talking about. In my first blog post in the Fashion Revolution Week series I’ve shared a list of documentaries that will help you gain more knowledge on ethical living. You can find the blog post here.

3. Share your knowledge but don’t get emotional

Okay, I’m a very emotional type, I can live with that, but for activism and online activism it’s much better to spread knowledge and not emotions. Yes, some topics are quite intense (like factory farms where billions of animals die or sweat shops where millions of people have to work under extremely bad working conditions), but when you’re getting emotional and therefore start pushing your opinion into someone’s face, it’s not going to be a huge success. Most vegans are not very appreciated, because they’re labeled “judgemental” and “emotional”. I am totally on the side of the vegans, but we cannot make a change if we’re judging other people doing something we wouldn’t do. Instead, we should promote an inclusivity where everyone is welcomed with open arms. Changing someone’s habits will most likely succeed if they’re (1) being informed out the negative impact on the long term, (2) are getting insights on the positive outcomes of changing a habit and (3) if the stimuli are being removed. The third one is a very difficult one if it concerns fast fashion, because there’s marketing everywhere. However, we can inspire people to not go to the city and go to the woods instead, so the temptation is reduced.

If you want to read more on how to change habits, you can find a great article by W. Jager from the University of Groningen here.

4. Focus on achievable goals

So you’ve seen the documentary A Plastic Ocean and you decided to stop consuming plastic and you want other to go zero waste as well? Well, that’s great! However, keep in mind that people are not at the same point as yo in their journey of sustainability. Instead of asking them to quit fast fashion, stop eating meat and reduce their plastic consumption, maybe you can inspire them to start with small changes. We don’t need a handful of people doing perfect, we need millions of people doing imperfect but trying their best. I’ve written a blog post with realistic tips on how to live more sustainably. You can find the post here: 10 tips to live more sustainably.

5. Make it fun

Changing habits should be fun If you’re melodramatic and don’t see any positive opportunities, how could you then convince other to make a change? We have to stay positive and it really helps to find a community that will help you stay motivated. It is so important to also focus on the progress that is being made. Even though it feels so little, every step forward is better than none.

Recap on how to make (online) activism a success.

First of all, be curious. Why do you want to do this and what do you need for it? Secondly, try to gain as much knowledge as you can and become a master in your field (whether it’s zero waste living, fair fashion or veganism). If you have gained some knowledge, it’s time to spread the word. You don’t have to know literally everything on the subject, as long as you know more than the average person. Don’t let your perfectionism restrain you from taking action. Also, don’t pretend you know everything when you don’t. It’s fully okay to react to a question with: “Great question, I haven’t got the answer yet, but I will look into it.” Share your knowledge with objectivity and a little passion, but don’t get overemotional, because this can overwhelm others. Rather focus on facts than feelings. Sharing your knowledge should be inclusive for everyone, also for people that do not (yet) share the same opinion as you. My fourth tip is focussing on achievable goals. Perfectionism is often a restraining factor, so try to let it go and look for realistic steps to take. And last but not least: have fun in your journey! Yes you will make mistakes and you will say stupid things, but try to stay calm and learn from it.

I believe we can do this together. Do you?

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