By: Ebony Riley and Skye-Ali Johnson
Voorhees, NJ and Washington, D.C.
Picture this: It’s a mid-summer day and you unlock your phone to open up Instagram because you’re wondering what’s going on. You come across a post with brightly colored, eye-catch-ing fonts that describe the most current tragic event. This, you realize, is the new trend.
With the rise of info-graphics, students are left questioning how effective they are in making a difference. In a recent interview with students from the Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP), students vocalized their opinions on infographics and online activism.
“You want to follow that up with an action,” says Emi Glass, a 17-year-old high school student from Day-ton, Ohio. Glass believes that, in some cases, online activism can be beneficial and inclusive. But there are steps beyond reposting information on your story that are required to effectu-ate meaningful change.
“OK, I posted this, but what does this actually do for this situation?” asks Huda Tombul, a 16-year-old high school student from New York. She adds that many people post infographics for the sake of posting them, and do not actually care about the information they spread. “Is this actually accurate information? Or did someone simply just write this and everyone went along with it?” Tombul asks.
“I mean, who isn’t on their phone?” 21-year-old college student Abby Dot-terer admits. Social media is an undeniable facet of daily life. The more people use it to express their concerns or thoughts, the more they begin to question whether or not it is a reliable place to source information.
When asked whether or not we should trust Insta-gram infographics, many interviewees advised caution—there should be individual research done before sharing information.
“You need to fact-check them. I don’t think you should trust some random person who posted it,” Glass says.
“Everyone has their voice. And anyone could say any-thing that could influence other people,” 17-year-old Nhi (Nikki) Huynh from Western Massachusetts says.
It is evident that social media platforms have be-come a popular place for young individuals to speak their truths, and a place to spread awareness about topics that interest them on the internet. Sometimes, though, the messages be-hind online activism be-come lost in translation. “Social media activism is al-most like talking to a brick wall,” Dotterer says.
Do infographics really lack information? “I have seen some that I think are more focused on the visual aesthetic than the quality of the information,” Glass says.
Online activism has taken a turn, and it’s hard to tell whether it is for the better or worse. Are we stuck? Or are we progressing?
No matter how hard we try, it is hard to predict the direction of infograph-ics and digital activism. As Dotterer puts it, “two steps forward, one step backward.”
Will we overcome this online activism standstill?