Why You Actually Should Get Political On Social Media

By Morgan Buckley

People often complain that social media isn't "real."

Just this month, a famous Instagram and YouTube user came out against social media, saying the so-called industry is fake and superficial.

People also complain about people who they perceive as too political on social media.

Updates or posts expressing a political belief or controversial thought are skipped over by people on social media who say they aren't there to be bombarded by one million and one opinions.

I believe these two ideas are at odds.

How can someone portray fully who they are on social media, if it is not "cool" to post what he or she is thinking and feeling about the world?

My political beliefs have made me who I am.

While I'm not one to shout them out loud every day, I do think its valuable to post about politics when something really matters to you.

I've shared a petition to free an alumna of my high school, who was imprisoned in Iran while reporting for the Washington Post. I've spread the word about environmental issues I care about, and opinion articles I've written for my campus newspaper.

Something as little as a philanthropy event page shared on Facebook should be encouraged. I've learned about activities and organizations on my college campus I never would have learned about otherwise.

These things are minimally political, but still have a message.

I've been able to show my friends on and off social media who I am, which has helped me alienate the idea of superficiality on the web.

Social media is becoming an increasingly important part of activism. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are giving a new meaning to political and social messages and social organizing. Suddenly, people can be in touch with others who share similar passions at the click of a button.

Well-known movements like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and more would quite literally not have been in existence without the power of social media.

Where streets were the mode of decades past, social media holds a special place for activism in the 21st century.

I, like many, do not consider myself a social media activist.

Quite the opposite: I like tweeting about current events, and sharing my endeavors in writing and involvement on campus on Facebook.

There are many levels of involvement in politics, activism and current events. Your social media should reflect this.

Some people take the notion of “involvement” too far, and have given politicized posting a bad name (I'm looking at you, Facebook ranters).

Political posting is frowned upon in some forums for good reason.

But, there is a difference between attacking officials with nasty, cyberbullying anonymous comments.

I have seen people maliciously attacking others online just like yelling at someone in person about their beliefs.

A well written, well-meaning Facebook status aimed at raising awareness about a deeply held feeling or issue should be well-received in a social media landscape increasingly aware of its superficiality.

And, all of this is not to say if you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, that activism should be your main aim.

Rather, there is an undeserved shame on people who actively post about their beliefs on social media.

If we are to really work to make social media a space free of superficiality, then we have no choice but to accept and encourage the sharing of more real-life issues and topics rather than pictures of lattes, friends and family.

Don't be afraid to reach out to others who post about current events you care about.

Don't be afraid to share that article you wrote for the campus newspaper, or that event you organized for your philanthropy of choice.

I promise it will make you feel a strong sense of connection to the world around you.

And if history has proven anything, it's that we are a stronger, more compassionate world when we work together to help the world grow, love and thrive.