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A Girls’ Guide to Internet Protests

How to raise some hell from the comfort of your own bedroom.

3. Hone Your Mission Statement

In order to engage people on an issue, you need to cut through a lot of other information that’s demanding their attention. With most people, you’ll probably get five seconds tops to explain yourself, 15 seconds when they’re feeling generous. So pretend that you have 10 seconds or less to explain your cause, inspire people to join you, and make a lasting impression. What would you say?

Here’s Izzy again:

It’s always a good idea to make an elevator speech. I’m kinda hazy on the origin of “elevator speech,” but I think it’s based on the idea that you could deliver this speech in the time it takes for an elevator to go up a few floors. Sit down with a pen and a piece of paper, and write down what you think your mission is. It’s fine if it’s super long and full of details at first. Then, keep editing it down by removing details and specifics until you’ve got a speech that’s short, simple, easy to understand, and useful. People don’t want to hear the complete history of your organization or group—they want to know why you’re worthy of their attention and they want to know FAST.

“Don’t just say the first thing that pops into your head,” says Erin. “Write a personal mission statement and memorize it—that way you’ll always be prepared!

4. Organize an Action

Now that you’ve got an idea of who or what’s ass you want to kick, it’s time to put the active in activism (ugh, sorry, guys). You don’t have to be marching around outside or chaining yourself to a tree to qualify as active, though—you can change the world just by sitting in your bedroom, typing.

First, figure out what you can do that will get your message to the person or people who need to hear it. Warns Erin:

You have to really do your research. Look into other successful campaigns that were started on the platform you want to use (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr) and emulate (but don’t copy) their strategies. Talk to others that have done it, look at how good petitions/hashtags/blog posts are written and once you do all this, spread the word. Email as many people/organizations/news outlets as you can. Write letters to the editors of newspapers and websites. Make a YouTube video to share.

And ask for help, says Izzy:

If you’ve joined an organization, they’ll give you all of the advice and technical support you need to succeed! Even if it sounds perfect in your head, they’ll help you improve your action until it’s good enough to be published on the internet. Your organization will hopefully be full of people who can share your page or petition [or feed or whatever] with their Facebook and Twitter followers, and all of the sudden you’re getting signatures from people who aren’t just your mom.

Izzy, Julia, and Erin all sang the praises of Change.org. “It’s easy, quick, and so shareable on social media sites, where you’ll get your audience,” says Izzy. “Don’t walk around downtown with a clipboard and a latte begging people to sign your petition.”

5. Recognize and Celebrate Successes

The internet is vast, and your issue might take a long time to really fix, so it helps to develop a clear idea of the problem you’re attacking and an equally clear definition of victory. Otherwise you’ll be stuck trying to resolve huge, blurry problems like “sexism” or “poverty” for your entire life, and you’ll never actually be able to determine what (if anything) you’ve accomplished. You may get bored, or burned out, or bitter.

Set small, specific goals. Instead of setting out to “end street harassment,” resolve to do something like getting an op-ed in your school paper, or defeating a specific bill, or just getting more attention for an issue that matters to you. Julia and the rest of the girls at SPARK focused on Seventeen with this in mind. Says Julia:

When we were planning our action, we knew that it was probably a good idea to target a particular magazine instead of all of the magazines in the world that use Photoshop. It’s smarter to start with a realistic goal, and then once you’ve succeeded make another realistic goal, and another. These smaller goals act like steps leading up to your giant, dreamy, unbelievable goal. The higher you go up, the more plausible your long-term goal gets. Celebrate every success you have, even if it seems small. It could lead to more successes in the future! And it will help lighten the mood if everybody’s really stressing out. I baked a cake after Seventeen released their “Body Peace Treaty.” (Mostly because I really wanted to eat a cake.)

Follow her lead: When you get good news or have a small victory, THROW A PARTY. Invite your friends. Tell yourself at the end of every day that you tried really hard, and you did a really good job. That is more than just a little necessary self-congratulation; that’s how you work up the strength to keep fighting.

6. Take Care of Yourself

You can’t save the world by ruining your life, and you can’t do good work if you’re ruined. It’s not selfish or lazy to take a break and take care of yourself—it’s a necessary component of your success.

Julia:

When our petition was first taking off, I was completely running on adrenaline and not really processing what was happening. I flew to New York City and met up with some other SPARK members to do interviews and meet with the editor-in-chief of Seventeen. I went from interview to interview, having to do more interviews in the car on the way to another interview. It was great, but I knew it was time for a break when I felt like punching an interviewer for making me answer the same questions I’d already had to answer a billion times. I was ready to come home and take a break. THAT IS COMPLETELY FINE. Different people have different levels of what they can handle before feeling stressed. And another advantage of working with a group is that you can share your workload with other people when you are feeling too tired.

There’s one more thing we want to warn you about: The moment you do something really visible and people start to pay attention to you, a small number of people will feel jealous and/or threatened, and be mean to you. Izzy knows what I’m talking about:

It’s basically a rule of life that when you publicly share your opinion on something, you’re going to be met with opposition that is at times fierce and scary. This shouldn’t stop you. It’s always good to surround yourself with a group of positive people who can counteract all of the hate—hopefully the other kids in your organization or group can be your support network. It’s also OK to stop entirely. You don’t have to do a walk of shame down the street waving a white flag, either—just stop circulating your materials, delete your petition, throw away your blueprints. Stopping to take care of yourself shouldn’t make you feel like a failure—it’s you dealing with your own life and trying to make it better. As an activist, that’s what you’re trying to do for your cause every day. Sometimes it’s OK for your cause to be you.



We hope that gets you inspired to start making some change on the internet. And hey, by the way, you know what’s on the internet? YOU, RIGHT NOW. And THIS VERY WEBSITE. You know who else is reading this right now? A lot of other teenage girls all over the world. Go ahead and use the comments section to throw out your elevator pitch. There are thousands of you. You could form an army, fighting for justice. It can start with you. ♦

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39 Comments

  • Blythe August 15th, 2013 12:08 AM

    This is great! Because I’m disabled (gah, I feel like I always end up talking about that here) I don’t get out much and I don’t have a lot of energy. So when I get worked up about issues, and people ask me what I’m doing about them, all I can really reply is, “blogging… angrily…?” I’ll try to keep these tips in mind to make more of an impact from now on!

    • soviet_kitsch August 15th, 2013 10:10 AM

      disabled pride! this article is great for people like us.

    • maddyr August 15th, 2013 6:04 PM

      Hey Blythe, if you want to do something for disability rights that is super quick and awesome and requires very little energy (and I feel you on the low energy – I have a chronic illness called Dysautonomia), call some senators in support of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities!

      Here’s the elevator speech: Ratifying the treaty would give the US a seat at the table for international disability rights conversations and would also demonstrate the political power of the disability community. 1 in 5 Americans are disabled, yet disability issues are rarely part of the political discourse.

      More info/numbers for the offices of crucial senators: http://hellomynameismaddy.tumblr.com/post/58203383063/obama-on-un-disability-treaty-get-it-done

      Ps even if you’re not disabled, you should care about disability rights! Take a couple minutes to learn about the social model of disability and then call some senators in the support of the CRPD!

  • Isobelley August 15th, 2013 12:20 AM

    Something I found really useful was the everyday sexism project. It’s where anyone around can submit a story about sexual discrimination. It doesn’t really do anything or get anyone arrested, but it proves that you’re not just imagining it and that sexism is a real problem

  • TinyWarrior August 15th, 2013 12:58 AM

    So..to be honest, I’m feeling super anxious about people replying to this post saying mean things to me, BUT I’M GOING FOR IT ANYWAYS!

    I’m Consistent Life which means that I oppose war, abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and all other forms of violence. I’m also a passionate feminist (I’m fine with birth control, too, y’all), and actively support gay marriage/LGBTQ rights. My position on politics is completely secular, and I spent two years of my life identifying as an Atheist.

    Even if you don’t identify as Consistent Life, I urge you to check out Life Matters Journal (https://www.facebook.com/LifeMattersJournal).

    Here are some other pro-life feminist resources, if you’re curious.

    https://www.facebook.com/NewWaveFeminists

    https://www.facebook.com/FeministsForLife

    https://www.facebook.com/feministschoosinglife

    • intergalactic fork August 15th, 2013 10:22 AM

      thanks so much for posting this!
      i always felt like i could not be a feminist because i am pro life. and this is because of other hard core feminists telling me so. like this one lady was all like “i laugh in the faces of those who say they are pro life and feminist!!” and this is everywhere! its on every major feminist site.
      anyway, your post is really helpful :)

    • Chloe22 August 15th, 2013 10:45 AM

      Here I am, leaving you a very NICE reply! I have been a pro life feminist for so long, and so has my mom. She actually got some serious notoriety in the news for her activism at her college. It’s funny, I’ve never heard of ”Consistent Life”, but I definitely am! I oppose all of the things your opposed to. It’s so exciting to find other pro life feminists. Usually when I talk about that on Tumblr or something people interent-yell at me about being a white male sexist, even though I am a 15 girl who also blogs about boybands. Sorry for ranting, but ugh I just got so excited about your comment!
      http://rhinestonemoon.blogspot.com/

      • TinyWarrior August 15th, 2013 4:22 PM

        Oh oh goodness gracious! You guys are making me so happy! I’m so glad that my comment was helpful :)

    • periwinkle_dreams August 15th, 2013 11:42 AM

      Cool :) I dunno if I’d identify as Consistent Life, just because I haven’t given much thought to the war part and that’s something I’d have to really consider before declaring it entirely unethical (it’s a complex thing, and I always give a lot of time and thought to big controversial issues before I pick a definite side). But thank you for all of the links!

      p.s. I hope no one on here says anything mean to you; we’re all Rookies after all so we should stick together! I have a high opinion of the girls on here and I think we all know that we can be kind to each other even if we don’t agree.

    • strawberryhair August 18th, 2013 6:54 PM

      Thank you for this! It’s really nice and encouraging to hear about other pro-life feminists. That was very brave and kind of you :)

    • abby111039 August 19th, 2013 7:03 PM

      “I’m Consistent Life which means that I oppose war, abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, and all other forms of violence. I’m also a passionate feminist (I’m fine with birth control, too, y’all), and actively support gay marriage/LGBTQ rights. My position on politics is completely secular, and I spent two years of my life identifying as an Atheist. ”

      I’ve never heard of Consistent Life until reading your comment but what you said about it sounds extremely similar to my views. My take on abortion however is that it’s not something I personally believe in doing, but if other people do it then that’s fine by me. I believe everyone has their own choices in life. So I guess I’m more pro-choice.

      Anyhow, this Consistent Life thing sounds very interesting. I’ll have to research this some more. Thanks for your comment and I applaud your bravery for posting what some may see as the unpopular opinion. You go girl. ^_^

  • Manda August 15th, 2013 1:02 AM

    Rookie and Martha Plimpton should definitely collaborate together.

  • Tara A. August 15th, 2013 1:36 AM

    This is absolutely amazing. As in this might just be one of my favourite articles on Rookie. I’ve always wanted to make a difference through blogging and I’ve never been sure of how to do it. These tips will really help me. Thanks Rookies! :D

    http://unlockingpandorasbox.blogspot.com

  • trixie-scout August 15th, 2013 6:11 AM

    Hey guys, so I have two spare tickets to see Tavi speak in Melbourne, Australia that I’m trying to sell (her show is sold out). If anyone’s interested in buying, let me know :)

    • whyamidreamingwhenimstillawake August 16th, 2013 1:51 AM

      OH MY GOD YES I live in Melbourne. How much and when is it? And how can I get in contact with you?

      • trixie-scout August 20th, 2013 9:04 AM

        YAY! So it is this Friday, at 6pm, which is super late notice, sorry :( I bought the tickets for $40 each, and my tumblr is http://trixie-scout.tumblr.com/ to get in contact (I don’t think we are allowed to post email addresses on Rookie) Yay! Hope you can come :)

  • Bumblecake August 15th, 2013 8:54 AM

    This is so awesome! I have been planning ( and I mean literally planning not just procrasinating!) on something like this for a couple of weeks now! I just have so much trouble honing in and focusing on one particular topic because there are so many that I care about!!

  • Chloe22 August 15th, 2013 10:57 AM

    My dad is going blind, and whenever people stare or leap over his cane, OR say he doesn’t deserve to sit in priority seating (yes, that has happened, recently in fact), it makes me so mad. I’ve always wanted to get involved with a disabled rights org or something.

    Also, did anyone read in the New York Times about the horrible discrimination that happened at the Astor place Starbucks in NYC? This group for people who are deaf were meeting there, and the employees wouldn’t take their handwritten orders. They even called the police saying the group wasn’t ordering enough food to meet there (even though they had ALL bought full meals). The article was all the way in the New York section of NY times, and I’m just afraid this case will dirft away and nothing will come of it. I’m considering starting a Change.org petition. Would anyone like to sign it?

    • maddyr August 15th, 2013 6:33 PM

      I’d sign it!

    • Jen L. August 16th, 2013 2:25 PM

      Me too!

      • strawberryhair August 18th, 2013 6:51 PM

        Me too :) If you do start one (and please do) could you post a link to it here? :)

  • Aoife August 15th, 2013 10:59 AM

    This post came at a perfect time , I was just thinking about how to get involved. You guys read my mind again lol.

    http://www.aoifebyrneblog.wordpress.com

  • KatGirl August 15th, 2013 11:26 AM

    Cool! The Internet is your friend -_-
    http://www.kawaiiunicornsandsparkleponies.wordpress.com

  • pendulous-threads August 15th, 2013 11:28 AM

    I’ve always felt lost on how to get involved on certain things like this. If I wasn’t on my computer at work, I would have already started my google search.
    I’ve always sucked at meeting people online (maybe cause I put in zero effort, just like IRL) I still need to start MY part in this search, but I think the comments here is a good start while I’m stuck at my office desk!

    born-to-go.blogspot.com

  • AnoHana August 15th, 2013 2:44 PM

    This article is great, but sadly it’s rather US-centric as usual… So if anyone has interesting activist things going on in Europe, especially Central Europe, I’d love to get involved!

    • Danielle August 15th, 2013 2:51 PM

      Thank you – this is a great point! We’d love to hear about activism happening with all of our Rookies, all over the globe.

    • charlottey August 15th, 2013 5:36 PM

      Hey AnoHana, there’s a lot of stuff going on in Europe you can easily join! There are lots and lots of online, semi-online and real life activist groups you can join, I’d recommend doing a google search on the topic your interested in + your country. There are tons of blogs by and newspaper articles about activists/activism in your region. I’ve been involved with feminism (mostly online and at rallies) and climate (justice) and environmental activism in Germany and on a European level for a couple of years now, if you’re interested in that, you can contact me here: http://firssandseas.tumblr.com/ask/. I might also be able to tell you about specific organizations or people I know depending on what country you’re from :)
      Right now and in the next couple of weeks, there are climate and activist camps in Germany, the UK, France, Belgium, a longer direct action training in Lithuania, in November there’s the Conference of the Youth in Poland… Those are great opportunities for meeting people in real life (activist friendships are the best! seriously, there’s nothing like a night spent passionately discussing what’s been on your mind forever and coming up with awesome actions and campaigns to tackle it with someone you just met at that conference <3), attending workshops, creating networks and there are almost always options for travel reimbursement from funds or possibilities to go there with an organization from your country.

      • AnoHana August 15th, 2013 5:57 PM

        Thank you so much for your reply! These things seem really interesting, I’ll check them out!

    • beyondrepair September 2nd, 2013 6:13 PM

      Hey! There’s quite a big issue going on in my country right now. I’m from Romania, and there have been lots of protests here regarding the recent approval of the cyanide mining project, by which Gabriel Resources, a Canadian company, attempts to extract gold and silver in a way which is harmful for both our environment and our people. They claim to provide jobs and help our economy, but the consequences could be disastrous. It would be great if any of you could help spread the word, we could use some international attention. Also, just want to say how great it is to see so many involved, intelligent, aware fellow rookies out here.
      Please share this video on any social media of your choice:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHqyTc54_Lc
      More information:
      http://www.mining.com/thousands-of-romanians-protest-gold-mine-39028/
      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/rupert-wolfemurray/romania-the-worlds-first-_b_3395413.html

  • silvermist August 15th, 2013 3:02 PM

    This is so great! It’s a pity I live on the other side of the world :( I am signing petitions on change.org like crazy though

  • Fee August 15th, 2013 5:12 PM

    I love change.org and it’s great to see when petitions you’ve signed have made a difference – I also felt really touched by the idea of a young Sady writing that letter because it’s truly selfless as opposed to some people I see today involved in activism where it seems to be more about boosting their CV or showing that they’re politically involved or whatever.

    http://contraluna.blogspot.com/

  • Theprincessleiahair August 16th, 2013 1:19 PM

    This was very inspirational thank you so much for the post!
    http://theprincessleiahair.blogspot.com/

  • Colleen Stratford-Kurus August 16th, 2013 9:53 PM

    Two days ago I signed a petition on Change.org to urge major corporations to pull their sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics, due to Russia’s recent anti-gay( read LGBTQ) laws. They are denying human rights yo. If you are interested in learning more and/or signing the petition here is the link!
    http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/stand-against-russia-s-brutal-crackdown-on-gay-rights-urge-winter-olympics-2014-sponsors-to-condemn-anti-gay-laws

    Also, Way to be Rookie! Your articles are always awesome!

  • rahima August 17th, 2013 7:47 AM

    Such an amazing article! It’s so inspiring and it really made me firm in my decision to join this online exhibit about what it means to be a muslima . It sort of aims to show the truth behind muslim women and breaking the common notion that they are voiceless. It’s really easy to join and they accept submissions from everyone around the world. One doesn’t even have to be muslim to participate. If interested in viewing and/or submitting artworks, it’s in their site: http://muslima.imow.org/ :)

  • abby111039 August 19th, 2013 6:58 PM

    This article is awesome. My twin sister is special needs, and one thing I’ve always thought about getting involved in was respect towards special needs kids in schools, and everywhere really. Like, when I hear kids using the r-word (I honestly don’t even want to type it.) whether it’s towards a special student or just as an adjective, it infuriates me. Just like when people use the word gay as an adjective. It’s just so damn disrespectful to me.

    Anyway, end of my rant. Thanks for this article, it’s so inspirational.

  • charlottey August 22nd, 2013 10:29 AM

    http://campaigns.350.org/

    350.org (a climate justice organization) offers some cool new online campaign building tools! they are supposed to be pretty easy to use, and 350.org has some great media attention already. might be interesting to those of you who want to work in environmental/climate activism. :)

  • Ri Watson August 22nd, 2013 2:05 PM

    Thank you once again, Rookie. I’ve always been very passionate about activism, but I’m not quite sure where to start. This really puts everything in perspective!

    OK, so I’m interested in reforming and expanding sex education. Here’s my elevator speech:

    “The elementary school sex education in Colorado gives students the mechanics of heterosexual intercourse and illustrates the anatomy found with each respective sex. I believe that the information given on anatomy and self-care should be given to both genders, to introduce calm, mature discussion, peers-to-peers, into the classroom.”

    Check out Planned Parenthood’s site for more info!
    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/resources/implementing-sex-education-23516.htm

    • Anaheed August 22nd, 2013 3:35 PM

      Have you watched The Education of Shelby Knox?

  • sissiLOL August 25th, 2013 6:40 AM

    Wonderful article, that is why I love rookie. Rookie is so other as all other magazines for teenage girls, it is feminism, creative…And it brings me to be a feminst and think about all things I never would think before. Also I am from germany and search GERMAN ROOKIES , or rookies from austria etc., all the time, and I search mail friends all the time. So when you like to mail with me contact me abot my blog: stylebruch.blogspot.com