An Introvert's Guide to Social Activism
It is a very contentious time in our country right now. Sometimes it feels like there are more things to fight over than there are to agree on. But for me, now is a time to stand up and get to work. I fear I have been too complacent over the past eight years and, while many of my countryfolk were speaking up, I enjoyed the ability to retreat into my private sphere and shut out the world. But instead of making that mistake twice, I want to do what I can to be a good ally for those who need support and be a stronger advocate for myself. However, as an introvert, that can be scary.
Many non-profit organizations that work as a voice for the marginalized have issued a call to action. We are encouraged to visit our lawmaker’s offices, go to community meetings, attend events, and make phone calls to ‘have our voices heard.’ That’s all good, great, and grand if you are an extrovert. But what if you are an introvert? What if you, in your daily life, need to channel your energy carefully as to not over-exert yourself? If you are anything like me, the idea of attending meetings and making phone calls to strangers is enough to spark a panic attack. Fear may stop you from doing anything at all. This can lead to a strong sense of guilt and leave you feeling helpless to inspire change. But, I assure you, there are plenty of ways to make waves and have your voice heard without ever having to speak to another human being:
Send e-mails, write postcards, and sign petitions
We are told over and over again that making phone calls is the best way to get the attention of your lawmakers. And while this may be true, sending emails, bombarding their office with snail-mail, and adding your name to petitions with thousands of others help, too.
Joining up with a march or rally that supports your cause is a great way to have your voice “heard.” I know this may sound contradictory because you will be in a large group of people, but there is no expectation of conversation. There is power in numbers, just being a head in a crowd can send a very loud message.
It is easy to become overwhelmed with wanting to save the world. And trust me, you cannot do it on your own. It is also important not to over-extend your time or emotional energy. Focus on doing what you can and donate to others who can do the rest. I highly recommend giving to watchdog groups, as well as arts and education-based non-profits.
Have ideas you want to share but don’t want to say them out loud? Consider writing editorials to your local or regional newspapers. This is a great way to spark interest in you cause without ever having to engage in face-to-face conversation.
Share credible articles via social media
I know there are a lot of people on social media who are reaching politics-fatigue, but that doesn’t mean we should stop speaking up. Sharing objective, informative, fact-based articles via social media is a great way to spread ideas and information. But please, I’m begging you, make sure your sources are credible and as balanced in approach as possible.
Volunteer for non-social jobs
A lot of non-profits rely on volunteers to help out with their day-to-day operations. There are plenty of jobs you can do that do not require you to be social. You could stuff envelopes, help with filing, data entry, office organization, write newsletters, take the minutes in meetings, create marketing materials, and so on. Volunteering your time and skills is always a great way to contribute to your community and your causes.
Subscribe to credible news sources
We often take for granted all the free material available via the internet. Major news outlets often offer readers access to a certain number of free articles each year in lieu of a subscription, and a lot of people take advantage of that. However, if you truly value the content they are providing, subscribe. A couple of bucks a month to have access to world-class, in-depth, and investigative journalism is adding value to your lived experience. Help them help you.
I’m a huge believer in voting with my wallet. Think of how many food suppliers have changed their products over to organic because of customer demand. Or how corporations have cut ties with controversial investors because consumers boycotted their services? I am a capitalist, I believe in the idea of a free-market, and this means I can influence a company or corporation’s business practices with how I choose to spend my money. The all-mighty dollar is sometimes all that matters in our system, and that gives you a lot of power. If we all become more conscious consumers, imagine what we could accomplish.
Don’t feel like you are not making an impact if you can’t adhere to mainstream ideas of social activism. Diverse strategies will be more powerful than one or two standard methods. If you are an introvert, you can be an effective activist. And no matter what your cause, no matter what your politics, I hope you find your voice in a way that works best for you. Fight for what you believe in. That’s what makes America great.