Let’s face it, environmentalists get a bad rep. We’re seen as annoying, self-righteous, and judgy loudmouths who criticize everyone around us and need to loudly express our beliefs every chance we get. A lot of it is unfair criticism, and yes, it is annoying to always be the butt of the jokes of people who don’t even take the time to listen to our very important message, buy maybe it’s time we take a look at ourselves and our activism.
Activism is never easy. If people were receptive towards change, things would be a lot easier and no one would need to go around protesting for equal rights, conscious business practices, or more humane policies. Activism is necessarily going to be annoying to some regardless of how gentle, nice, and accommodating you try to be about it. But that doesn’t give anyone permission to take it to the next level and be purposely aggressive and annoying about, not only is it disrespectful, it defeats the entire purpose, and harms the movement. This is why there are certain behaviours we should retire from our activism:
The Holier Than Thou Attitude
You have your own garden farm that you can eat off of year-round, you compost, have solar panels, have banned all single-use plastics from your life, and have a smaller electricity footprint than even the most devout Amish. Congratulations, that doesn’t give you permission to look down on others.
Becoming environmentally conscious gives you a gratifying feeling that you are helping out humanity and being in tune with nature. That can quickly go to your head and make you think you’re “holier” than regular folks who still use plastic straws. But the thing is, shaming people with your “grandiosity” isn’t going to convert them to your cause, and it can be pretty insensitive to those who can’t afford to be as eco-friendly as you are. See, not everyone has the option of reducing their environmental impact, and if you need to be shaming anyone because of it, it should be corporations and society’s inequality, not the people that are affected by it.
The Shock for the Sake of Shocking
The way animals are brutally murdered in farms is hideous and terrible, no matter how “cruelty-free” they claim to be. There’s no such thing as cruelty free meat, almost every vegan and vegetarian knows that. The people who don’t know, won’t be convinced to give up meat by watching gruesome images of murdered animals on their feeds. They might stop and think about it for a bit, but then they’ll move on and continue to eat meat. A single image without context, won’t really do much to persuade anyone.
The Overly Long Rants
When was the last time someone posted a long-winded message on social media and you actually stopped and read it? Most people see a long post, feel annoyed and move on. Activism on social media should be short and succinct, just get to the point and give people a clear course of action. Leave the long explanations and detailed thoughts for other mediums. The clearer and shorter your message is, the better chance it has of being remembered by those who see it, and at the end, that’s what every activist wants.