Commissioned artwork by Annabel Hart.
[Image description: Drawing of a female figure holding a canvas reading ‘activism comes in all different forms’, with a rainbow behind her and social media logos.]
Article by Emily Bourne.
Being introverted and having a passion to fight for social justice can be extremely difficult, as you may not feel comfortable engaging in traditional forms of activism; such as protesting in large groups, confrontational behaviour, public stunts, dressing up, loud and intimidating environments and having responsibility over other people.
So, how can you have your voice heard if you’re naturally quite shy? My advice is that you need to find what you’re comfortable doing - which may take time or having to try different methods of getting your point across. To help you, I’ve come up with some tips on how to approach your quest towards activism as an introvert.
Top 5 Activism Tips for Introverts
- Apply your skills
Some activists that you may have seen in the media are able to stand up in front of hundreds of people and speak eloquently, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Some people thrive in social, fast-paced, high-pressure situations and love meeting new people, and some others don’t. There’s nothing to be ashamed of being introverted, and there are plenty of other ways that you can take a stand against injustice!
Think about what you are good at in your daily life - are you creative, do you do much volunteering, are you good with children, do you like to write? Everyone has unique skills, so use yours and others will use theirs.
- Use your specialties
Whether excel in creativity or other areas, there’s always something you can use to your advantage!
Creativity is a great asset for many people because they can do it in a safe space, and then give the outcome to the public, so that people can engage it without the creator having to be present. Alternately, creating in a small group can also be useful, as people are able to engage by doing what they feel confident in - thus making it easier for them to speak up and discuss topics they think need to be highlighted.
But if you prefer a more orthordox approach, there are many ways you can go about this too: a few examples being that you can become part of a research team to investigate certain matters to do with your field of activism; if you’re a mental health specialist, you could explain how such matters can affect a person’s mental health; you could join a political party that supports your cause.
- Use your online platform
With the rise in use of social media, you can now sit at home with a cup of tea and promote your cause. All you need to do is find others like you, start a Facebook group or use your creativity to show the world what you’re all about. For example, you can give tips on how to go green, or become vegan, or reasons to support this party or that party.
But, the possibilities don’t end there - they’re endless! If you’re a decent writer, start a blog; if you’re a born art-genius, make a campaign poster; if you love watching Youtube videos, make some of your own!
Your unique voice has it’s own place in the activism movement and will appeal to it’s own audience in ways other methods won’t.
- Social skills aren’t the be-all and end-all
Social skills aren’t imperative for effective activism, but if you can use them, they definitely do help. What I would suggest is to build up your social skills at your own pace, and if you still feel uncomfortable interacting with others, then don’t sweat it!
To build up your confidence, practice by discussing the issues with friends and family. Speak to them honestly and put across your argument - and if you struggle too much, then lay off the social interaction and find a different method to express your views.
- Join a local or online activist group
If you’re feeling brave, search online for a local activist group near you and go along by yourself or with a friend. Attend a few meetings and see if it’s your thing - if it is, great! They may have their own methods of getting their point across, which you can either join in with, or you could suggest trying something that is more suited to you. Either way, you will be in the company of friends (hopefully) and will be making history together!
However, if the meetings aren’t your cup of tea, you can try joining an online activist group instead. As part of this group, you can arrange events and come up with ideas that will make a political statement and/or go to events arranged by the group. Online groups feel a little more flexible, as you can have a role ‘behind the scenes’ instead of centre-stage.