The US students who walked out of schools nationwide in protest against gun violence yesterday have counterparts in many other countries. On March 24, young activists all over the world will be staging events in support of the March for Our Lives movement started in Parkland, Fla., and there are other causes and kinds of social change their peers have taken up, social media playing a prominent role in their work, worldwide. This is a two-part post that zooms in on five remarkable activists in four countries, ages 18-24 who spoke on a panel at Facebook’s Global Safety Summit in Washington earlier this month. Here, in Part 2, a look at some of the life-changing challenges their work in social media has brought them (read about them and their work in Part 1)….
A crucible is a “place” where severe struggle happens, but it leads “to the creation of something new.” Based on the accounts of Tábata Amaral de Pontes, Evelyn Atieno, Camryn Garett, Amika George and Harnidh Kauer – activists and leaders between the ages of 18 and 24 in Brazil, India, Britain and the US – social media has been that kind of place for them, as well as a platform and power tool. Though they’re all highly skilled media users, it has brought some tough experiences that grew their strength and confidence. Listening to them from the audience, it was almost as if they were processing those experiences out loud as they spoke on stage.
When Tábata said mobilizing was easier than organizing her movements (in Part 1), she clearly didn’t mean that using social media is easy. She and other panelists described searing experiences they had because of their very public projects – experiences that a lot of people may never have, much less people so young, and that clearly led to what sounded like new levels of strength and confidence.
Her pivotal experience was having a digital gossip magazine with “millions of followers that propagates a lot of fake news” (the Brazilian version of a “supermarket tabloid”) start to publish “fake news about me and my family every single day…. My family became very scared. I come from a very poor part of Brazil, and I couldn’t afford a lawyer, and my family said, ‘Maybe they’ll come after you. Maybe they’re going to harm us.’… That hurt me a lot. I cried for a lot of days. I thought about giving up on all my mission. Because there was no answer, and we don’t have laws for that in Brazil yet.” Read more