Once You’re Done Posting an Infographic About Injustice, Do So.
Every time an important topic of social justice appears in the news, an infographic appears. You will see the same bright, catchy, eye-catching blocks of text that have been shared on Instagram Stories by numerous friends. Your friends signal their interest in a topic and make it clear what they stand for, but is it really helpful? Being active is about more than posting well-designed graphics: here are the next steps you should take.
There is nothing wrong with sharing infographics
First, there’s really nothing wrong with sharing statistics or calls to action on your Twitter story or timeline, but ideally you want to do more than just tell other people they should take action. Ariel Geismar , a mental health organizer and advocate, explained that her passion is identifying people online who are interested in topics (usually by watching their posts) and “turning that into personal action.”
“I think in general infographic and infographic culture reposting tends to be well-meaning and from the heart,” she said, but added that the messaging can go from raising awareness to a bit of a performance. “When we look at each other with the best of intentions, I think the root of infographic culture is people genuinely trying to talk about what they care about.” Hopefully, she said, this will send a signal to social media followers that the reposter is available to discuss issues offline or in their private messages.
K. Agbebiyi, a reproductive policy macro social worker and prison abolition organizer, added that people are reposting this infographic for a variety of reasons, from raising awareness to feeling they are helping in situations where they feel powerless to connecting with people. , or perhaps “also to signal to people that they are following current events.”
Infographics can be useful, they say, because “people can quickly learn about complex issues in ways that are most accessible to them and connect with the people doing the work.”
Next steps for activism
The nationwide outcry over systemic racism and police brutality that took place in the summer of 2020 was notable in that the pandemic made it harder for people to operate in the physical realm, and wage cuts and job losses affected people’s ability to donate to related funds. organizations. Infographics were all over the place that summer, and while that was okay at the time, it’s important to remember that when you have the opportunity, you should be doing more than posting.
If you’re not the type to go out to protest or join a volunteer group, you can still get involved. Donate to causes you care about. Put your money where your mouth and your fingers are on Twitter.
“Make sure you read a lot about this issue from different sources,” Geismar said. “If you find an infographic that you are really connected to, read it and then also look at the sources they link to. Look at another infographic. Maybe you’ll move on to digital media searches, look at different sources and start gathering some information.”
In addition to listening to experts and finding reliable sources of information (which you can learn more about here ), you also need to start connecting with people. Geismar said that you should raise issues in the communities you belong to, but you also need to translate what you’ve learned into a language your community can understand. Repeating a few phrases you learned from infographics won’t help; you must sincerely investigate and then communicate what you have learned.
Then go to the pages of organizations in social networks dealing with the issue that interests you, or visit their websites. Look for the “Volunteer” tab or any notifications of upcoming events. This is where infographics come in handy: If you notice that someone in your community — be it your school, place of work, group of friends, or region — is posting images about a particular issue, invite them to join you at an event or as a volunteer.
“Look who is posting the infographic and see if they are affiliated with any organization in the area,” Agbebiyi said, adding that you can even start your own group with other people who have shown interest in the subject online. “Set aside time with a small group to read and research your issue, connect with other organizers and plan the structure, and then get on with the long term.”
Test yourself to make sure you are on the right track.
If you’re still determined to publish an infographic, you need to be smart too. Check everything you read before hitting the share button. Spreading false information will not help anyone.
“People do not check sources and spread disinformation,” Agbebii warned. “They can share, but they don’t really solve the problems they talk about and don’t help in a meaningful way. He can prioritize concern over the actual work of destroying an oppressive system.”
As mentioned, one of the main problems with infographic culture is that it can be a bit performative. For example, if you are talking about the rights of LGBTQ people in a hostile community, it can be very important to show that you are an ally or an activist, and others can join you, even if it seems intimidating. Otherwise, it’s easy to feed on the praise you might get for reposting a few infographics here and there, or want to create a public image of yourself that suggests you’re compassionate and informed. It’s so simple, in fact, that you may not even realize that your values have shifted from genuine help to some self-promotion.
“Starting by understanding the problem will always be the first step for me,” Geismar said. “The next thing to do is make sure you don’t just post and then forget about the issue, but take action.”
She said that after you repost, it’s important to take action, whether that’s a donation or starting a more personal dialogue with people.
Use social media in other ways
Social media can be productive and empty, but it can also be a great place to learn and grow. Instead of posting infographics, you can create your own content (as long as you remember the tips above about not focusing too much on yourself).
“Social media platforms are really prioritizing content that they think will be really successful,” Geismar noted. “Sometimes it’s an aesthetic element of the content. Sometimes it’s content that looks good, or it has a person or a face in it, or it’s a pretty picture taken with a good camera. Sometimes this unfortunately takes precedence over, say, text content from the Notes app.”
She noted that some content creators have begun adding social justice messages to other posts, such as makeup tutorials. They talk about important issues, demonstrating how they get the perfect eyeliner, appealing not only to an algorithm (and consumer base) that prioritizes on-camera teaching materials, but also to educating viewers. If you’re part of an online community that loves, say, NFTs, video games, fashion, or sports, think about content that can be related to both the core interests of the group and things you care about – and then post it organically. . repost another infographic that everyone will ignore. You have power in your communities, online and offline, and the dialogue you spark can be meaningful.