Tapping through Instagram stories during seemingly endless quarantine days, you’ll find plenty of tag me challenges and help-wanted-for-a-student-non-profit-organization posts.
Our generation has mastered the art of digital communication, connection and advocacy. Now, it’s time to put our carefully honed expertise to the test.
It can feel like there are an overwhelming number of causes to support in a time when so many are struggling. Each form of activism has its merits, but ultimately checking in with classmates or teachers in a personal manner is the most thoughtful and impactful gesture, at least for most teenagers. Although online communication cannot compare with that of real life, social distancing has proved that it’s possible to form and maintain genuine connection digitally. In fact, the knowledge that someone has made the extra effort to connect with you, makes it all the more meaningful and genuine.
At all times but especially amidst a pandemic, it is imperative that each individual assess their own readiness and stability before helping others.
For students who are fortunate enough to not be occupied with familial responsibilities or financial stressors, many have and must continue to use their newfound free time to give back to the community and help those in need.
Student activists have founded charities entirely through communicating digitally. Their activeness is commendable, and each organization founded by students and other community members alike should be recognized for its contribution to the community.
When pursuing volunteer work amidst the pandemic, however, we must critically assess the risk and reward associated with each endeavor. Unfortunately, many volunteers neglect social distancing under the guise of enacting change.
Every South student has experienced more than their fair share of competition. Thus, in this break from the stress-associated school walls, it is more important than ever that we embrace collaboration. Rather than creating 50 organizations with the same mission, we would collectively accomplish far more if we pooled our efforts: “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
At its core, the most impactful way to help will look different for each one of us: know your strengths and act on them. If you’re a talented artist, make masks and posters; if your strengths lie in fundraising, go around your neighborhood and raise money for your local food pantry. Whether delivering groceries to elderly neighbors, making masks, checking on others or even just staying at home and practicing social distancing, these contributions all help our community, and they should not be compared.
The passion we bring to activism during COVID-19 should not disappear once the crisis is over. The coronavirus has exposed underlying inefficacies and weaknesses within our support system for those who need it. Pressing issues like food insecurity do not disappear once we no longer have social distance, and neither should our activism. We shouldn’t live by the mantra: “Now’s a better time to be an activist than ever.” Rather, we must understand that this is a unique time to form habits that will persist throughout our lives: “Now’s a better time than ever to begin your activist journey, wherever that leads in the future.”