A picture of George Floyd, a black man with his neck pinned to the ground by the knee of a police officer in blue, interrupts your mindless scrolling on Instagram circa May 2020. Pointer finger hovering over the screen, you pause to read and learn that this man was suspected of paying with a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis store. Derek Chauvin, the police officer who answered the store’s call, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, blocking his airways, killing him as he cried out, “I can’t breathe.” The $20 bill wasn’t even fake. You fill out the form for the change.org “Justice For George Floyd” petition and share the post to your own Instagram story, sending out a rallying cry to all of your followers to sign the petition as well. Days later, celebration erupts across your feed. The petition was heard; the officers involved have been fired and criminally charged. You slouch back into your chair, relieved. But, as you relax, you know that the real work is far from over; in fact, it hasn’t even been started yet. A spark of courage, action, advocacy catches fire within you.
Social media is powerful in more ways than one. Of course, there’s the well-known story of cyberbullying, time-wasting, and insecurity that runs rampant on apps. There’s also the rebuttal that social media provides an avenue for connection with loved ones. Allow me to present an alternate viewpoint: social media provides a catalyst for change-making and a breeding ground for self-confidence and social consciousness.
Don’t believe me? Just check out one of the 60 accounts that pop up on Instagram when you type “activism” into the search bar. Sure, the ones created by Jacob Castaldi and Tanner Sweitzer, businessmen who are more interested in raising their follower count than enacting real change, are well-known (e.g., @feminist, @chnge, and @march), but the accounts that deserve a follow are the ones created by teenagers. Julia, a 17-year-old Asian-American girl from California, runs the account @activismgirl, which not only contains posts calling out systemic racism, the patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and ableism but also shares national and global news updates, petitions, and fundraisers for political campaigns and struggling marginalized individuals. Recently, she used her platform to sell stickers with a peach design and “flip the senate” logo to raise money for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossof, the democratic candidates in the Georgia senate runoffs. With 64.2 thousand followers, she’s educating many around the globe, people she wouldn’t have been able to inspire without social media’s expansive scope.
Another notable account started by young people is @letterstomygeneration that, in their words, is “founded by GenZ for the Generations.” With a legislative campaign to get mental health education in schools, affordable therapy, and more comprehensive mental health services in Colorado, and by posting letters written by teenagers who want to share their mental health journeys, the account seeks to end the stigma surrounding mental health and show other teenagers that they’re not alone.
Going hand in hand with activism accounts to create an uplifting atmosphere on social media, posts about body positivity and women empowerment are plentiful on people’s feeds, and for you pages. These videos show women posing in a way to look like the “ideal body type” and then relaxing their bodies to show that their bellies are not actually flat and that they have hip dips and stretch marks in order to “normalize normal bodies.” Similarly, there are a plethora of videos telling viewers that they’re beautiful as they are. A recent TikTok trend emphasizes solidarity among women through girls posting videos of themselves dancing to the song “Space Girl,” celebrating women of all body types, ethnicities, personalities, and styles. Even though the people posting these messages are all strangers, they have formed connections through shared insecurities and support each other in conquering their demons.
A final note to make about the positive influence of social media on our society is that it has fostered an update of the “golden rule”: treat others how they want to be treated and with the respect all humans deserve. People on social media have become more conscious in the past few months of what other people have to deal with on and offline, growing empathy for those with different experiences. As a result, accessibility has become a staple of posts on both Instagram and TikTok. Captions on videos and image descriptions in both the post’s caption and alt text are some ways by which people on social media are thinking of those with visual impairments and hearing loss. Additionally, cisgender people have helped normalize putting one’s pronouns in social media bios, which not only lures away transphobes from their innocent targets but also demonstrates how social media has made people more considerate of others. A world where people respect each other, love themselves, and advocate for justice is attainable; the template for it is right there on your phone.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!
We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.