An Introvert’s Guide to Activism

This article was originally published in January, 2017. 

Do you prefer spending your time at home? Does the idea of being in a crowd make you a little panicky? Do you loathe phones? Or do you just straight-up identify as an introvert?

Being surrounded with rhetoric to get involved and become a more assertive activist can be scary when that’s really not how you operate. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to be an activist and an introvert — after all, change isn’t always made on the streets.

First, though, a note: There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a naturally introverted personality. But if what you experience is actually anxiety — or even panic attacks — you should probably see a mental health provider. There are tons of treatment options to help people manage anxiety, including medication, therapy and even activities like yoga. Getting treatment for anxiety can be really freeing — take it from someone who’s been there.

Whether you’re naturally introverted, managing anxiety or a little of both, there’s still a lot you can do from home.

Donate your money and time

That can include supporting organizations with your cash or donations of products and services. You can pick the level of engagement and how to communicate — maybe working entirely through email.

Conduct research

You might consider volunteering as a researcher, too. Plowing through reams of studies, government documents and legislation is time-consuming work that requires a quiet environment for focus – like, say, your living room. Alone.

It’s common to have to pester officials, archivists and recordkeepers for material that’s not freely available, so you can set up an email schedule to keep hammering away. Your research can be used to back programs and initiatives, taking your work to the streets when you can’t go.

Contact your representatives

As a citizen, you also have the power to request information from elected officials and government employees — remember, they work for you.

I’m going to be honest with you: Getting on the phone is the best way to do that, other than meeting represenatives in their offices. I hate phones, so I feel your pain here, and I often use scripts, which many organizations provide. Fortunately, you can also fax. Yes. People still use fax machines. I know. It’s weird.

If you absolutely cannot deal with phones, and you can’t remember the last time you saw a fax machine in the wild, you can send a letter or email. Letters can actually be more effective, oddly enough. However, these methods will prompt less action than phoning.

Leverage social media and the internet

The disability rights movement wrote the book on this one: With many people trapped at home by policy or circumstance, and people far-flung across the globe, digital communication became essential. Don’t just share things on Facebook or use hashtags on Twitter, though. Come up with a clear, thoughtful strategy for how you are going to make a difference.

For example, you could issue a challenge on Facebook: “Hey followers, go to a government meeting and report back to me.” You could also drive a Facebook group with clear, concrete actions for members to complete each week and hold people accountable.

Some activists have designed cool Twitter bots that can correct factually inaccurate information or recommend that people think about their word use more carefully.

You can use Twitter for another purpose, too: fighting racist harassment. A fascinating study found that when bots intervened in racist attacks, they were taken more seriously when they were white, especially if they were male. If you’re white, build up a Twitter following and start supporting activists of color by taking the heat off their mentions.

And hey, when you’re ready to venture outside? There are a lot of supportive activists out there who are willing to help you find your comfort zone.

Photo credit: Mobilus in Mobili

94 comments

heather g
heather g4 months ago

I like the title of this article.

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Loredana V
Loredana V4 months ago

Everyone can make a difference.In many ways.

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Winn A
Winnie A4 months ago

Thanks

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Cathy B
Cathy B4 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Vasu M
Vasu Murti4 months ago

"An Introvert's Guide to Activism..." ? The title of the article reminds me of a joke from the first half of the 20th century, in which city slickers run a political campaign in a rural southern state, attempting to smear their opponent by using big words they think the simple country folk will misunderstand or take the wrong way: "...before marriage, he was an introvert who habitually practiced celibacy..."

Merely shifting to a plant-based diet: a slight change in lifestyle, comparable to cellphones; going from gas guzzlers to compact cars and unleaded fuels; legalizing industrial hemp; paper Vs plastic bags; recycling; switching to decaf; switching to the metric system, etc., can save the planet.

Attention: armchair activists! Through a slight change in lifestyle, we can save redwoods and rainforests, the ozone layer, and end global hunger, global warming, the energy, environmental, population and water crises... as well as end abortion and bring about world peace, too, as abortion and war are the karma for killing animals!

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Vasu M
Vasu Murti4 months ago

"An Introvert’s Guide to Activism..." ? The title of the article reminds me of a joke from the first half of the 20th century, in which city slickers run a political campaign in a rural southern state, attempting to smear their opponent by using big words they think the simple country folk will misunderstand or take the wrong way: "...before marriage, he was an introvert who habitually practiced celibacy..."

Merely shifting to a plant-based diet: a slight change in lifestyle, comparable to cellphones; going from gas guzzlers to compact cars and unleaded fuels; legalizing industrial hemp; paper Vs plastic bags; recycling; switching to decaf; switching to the metric system, etc., can save the planet.

Attention: armchair activists! Through a slight change in lifestyle, we can save redwoods and rainforests, the ozone layer, and end global hunger, global warming, the energy, environmental, population and water crises... as well as end abortion and bring about world peace, too, as abortion and war are the karma for killing animals!

SEND
Rita Odessa
Rita Delfing4 months ago

I like my own company and those close to me. I will stand up for whats right and say so, I'm just not going to blare it like a trumpet, I'm an introvert. I have anxiety but thanks I don't need a mental health practitioner lol, like most situations it's about education and finding coping mechanisms.....just saying.

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Anne M
Anne M4 months ago

Not into it at my age.. - I prefer to be in the quiet zone/mode,, but will sign petitions though...

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John B
John B4 months ago

Thanks Ms, Smith for sharing the great ideas.

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David C
David C4 months ago

thanks

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