Online Activism: Five Ways to Help From the Couch

Go away. Photo by Orbitz

If you spend most of your time at home, either from need, desire, or by circumstance, you may think there’s little you can do to support your favorite candidates or causes. If you have access to the internet (and if you’re reading this I’m assuming you do) and a phone, there are numerous easy ways to get involved and make a difference in the world beyond your front door, all personally tested by the hermit author.

Do this regularly. It’s quick, easy, and as an added bonus, you don’t have to see or talk to anyone. You can also tell a lot by who sends a personalized reply that addresses the subject of your correspondence, and who sends you a form letter. There are far more of the latter.

For example, a few years back we were threatened with a fracked gas pipeline and several compressor stations here in my rural region of New England. FERC (The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who is in charge of these matters) accepts comments from the peasants for their consideration.

Did they actually take any of our input under advisement? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt, and with the bombardment of negative public response, it may have swayed the conclusion in our favor. In any case, we defeated the pipeline.

You’re probably already doing this every day. Just engaging with others in political discussion is an excellent way to challenge your own position, and maybe alter someone else’s, or at least increase mutual understanding. (Unless you’re a troll. Go away, sad little person.)

Off with you. Photo by Tenor

Now granted, this entails talking to human beings, but you can read from a script and do a shot every time someone hangs up on you. Two shots if they yell at you first. Just kidding. You’d probably die. But seriously, even if you only reach a handful of people, that’s still a worthwhile accomplishment.

Phone calls are always more effective than emails. You’ll speak to a bored intern who will listen to your spiel, take your contact information, and go back to watching YouTube videos before you’ve even hung up from your call. But they also keep a tally of which way the constituent wind is blowing and pass it along to their boss, so, there is that.

Some activists like to mock what they call “keyboard warriors” or “clicktivists.” They make it sound like a bad thing. If you are housebound due to family responsibilities or physical or mental disability and will still put time and effort into trying to connect with your lawmakers and fellow activists, that’s to be commended, not denigrated. To hell with anyone who tries to make you feel differently.

Not everyone can, or should be on the ground canvassing. We all have our roles to fulfill in turning this ship around. Concerned, engaged citizens spreading awareness via the internet (or phone, or in person, or with skywriting, etc.) is a valuable contribution, even with ever-increasing censorship.

Because it’s communication that yields results, and the opportunities to engage with and educate each other in cyberspace are vast and not to be underestimated.

And I’m not afraid to use it. Photo by Network Society and the Media

is a news junkie and history buff spending the End Times randomly alternating between bouts of crankiness and bemusement. Come along!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store