Instagram aesthetics are great but political action is better

Students need to actively participate in the political process, not just post about it

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter now dominate every conversation people have, whether it be career-related or just for casual social interaction. 

These social media platforms are home to posts about anything and everything that their users care about, including political movements. However, posts have little to no real impact other than raising awareness, which doesn't necessarily translate into change.  

On Jan. 21, at least 20,000 people attended the Phoenix Women's March on the Capitol, and ASU students were among those marchers. Also in attendance were the ASU Young Democrats, led by the club's president, Jesse Avalos.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were flooded with posts from ASU students and others who attended the march. These posts definitely spread awareness of the event, but not necessarily the purpose of the march. 

The Phoenix Women's March was intended to spread awareness for causes including LGBTQIA, reproductive and civil rights. However, a lot of people, even some of the marchers, may have been unfamiliar with the complete meaning behind the march.

Students who participate in political rallies and marches need to do more than simply post a photo with a witty caption to promote change. They should embody the values and goals of the organizations they are associating themselves with.

Kim Fridkin, a foundation professor at ASU's School of Politics and Global Studies, said that posting messages on social media is a form of political communication, but it has limitations.

"A student's posts will go to their network of friends but will be unlikely to spread beyond the group," Fridkin said. "The messages may not be able to persuade others who are not like-minded, or may have limited mobilization effects."

Social media platforms are great for sharing beliefs and opinions, but they are not effective places to make real change or progress.

In a Huffington Post article, author Amanda Jones said that social media "is great for garnering attention about an issue (which is important), but it is ultimately just a fad that suddenly booms in popularity, but dies out as quickly as it appears."

A simple example of this concept is changing a profile picture to feature the logo of a particular movement. 

In 2013, social media users across the U.S. changed their profile photos to red and pink equal signs to advocate for marriage equality. While this may have increased awareness of the movement, the changing of a profile picture did not directly further marriage equality.

If students are as active politically as they are on social media, real advances could be made.

"There isn't a 'best' way for students to get involved politically," Fridkin said. "Students need to figure out what is best for them. It's important for students to pay attention to elections and politics and become informed."

ASU has 29 student clubs with a political focus or affiliation, making it easy to get involved in an organization that makes a larger impact than an Instagram post. For instance, some clubs encourage politically motivated students to vote for local and state legislators who could have some say in the movements they are passionate about.

"I do believe that students have the power to change things that they see as unjust," Fridkin said. "By lobbying members of government or voting incumbents out of office, students can change the political status quo."



Reach the columnist at adunn11@asu.edu or follow @adrienne_dunn on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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