When most people think of everyday civic engagement or civic advocacy, they tend to picture those people who attend every single community meeting. Or those people you see being interviewed on television by your local newscaster. Or those people you see standing with picket signs in front of your City Hall. While it’s understandable that these are the first images that come to mind, you should be aware that these people are the ones who have dedicated a significant amount of their time and efforts to civil advocacy. Not everyone has the time, nor the passion for a single cause, that these people have, and that’s ok! We can’t all be Greta Thunberg, but we don’t all need to be. Ten million people imperfectly advocating for something is more effective than one person advocating for it perfectly. Here are five things you can do that don’t require much time or effort, but can make a difference in turning your passion for causes you care about into action.
1. Follow a Thought Leader in or Advocate for Something You Care About (or Want to Learn More About) on Social Media
In all of my speeches, I end by telling folks to learn more about things that they don’t know about. You can do this by listening to someone new give a speech, or listen to his or her podcast. You can do this by reading articles. You can do this by searching the internet. Social media is criticized sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s an ineffective means of civic advocacy. Not only can you learn a great deal in a short amount of time about the causes you care for, you can also use your own platform to educate others.
When you see videos, comments, or articles reflecting your own feelings or evolved positions, take a few second to post about it on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn account (or TikTok for all you young folks out there). We can’t expect others to care about reform, accountability, and justice more than we do ourselves, and sharing our values is a way to let our friends, families, and neighbors know where our own values lie. Inviting others to explore our beliefs and causes at the mere click of a mouse might be daunting at first, but I can promise that you’ll facilitate discussion and get others thinking about those beliefs.
2. Join a Group Whose Mission is Something You Care About
Maybe you want to increase voter turnout in the United States. Maybe you want to change the criminal sentencing laws in your state. Maybe you just want to get the potholes in your own neighborhood fixed. I guarantee you that there are groups out there that are already advocating for and taking action on those things; all you have to do is seek them out. In today’s age of technology and social media, this will probably take you five minutes.
Oftentimes these kinds of organizations already have some sort of structure in place, a mission statement, and a plan to go about achieving that mission. They will tell you how you can volunteer to help, and will be absolutely fine with you not making a substantial time or effort commitment. Any help is good help. Plus, you have the added bonus of being able to meet people who share your interests! Who can say no to making new friends?