Influence

Summary——————–Overview ——————– Shareables

We live in an extremely connected world, for better or for worse. We know social media can be dangerous, due to very little fact-checking, cyber-bullying, addictiveness, and other factors that can harm our mental health. However, it can also be an extremely powerful tool in these times of global crises. Online posts circle the globe in an instant and have the potential to unite strangers from different continents to take action for an important cause.

The number of internet users rises every day and it seems that influencers are spawning from every corner of the Earth just as fast. Celebrities, politicians, and other leaders of our societies benefit from an unprecedented reach to the world, and with that comes immense responsibility.

These leaders have such an important influence on their fanbase that using their social media accounts is likely the best thing they can do for the planet. Between that and their small fortunes, they have the power and responsibility to encourage [and take] environmental action at the largest scales.

Promoting facts about the environmental crisis is definitely the tricky part, simply because not everyone’s an expert. Especially people that are too busy being celebrities or politicians. It’s much better to play it safe and not share anything rather than to spread crap all over the internet – but doing nothing doesn’t help either. It’s a tricky spot to be in, but hopefully the next ‘Shareables‘ sub-section can help with that.

Getting informed about the current crises by equipping ourselves with reliable facts is definitely a good and logical first step to reduce our impacts – and to know what to share online to spread awareness and encourage action.

‘Bad’ Influencers

Unfortunately, there are also influential individuals who don’t believe the climate and biodiversity crises are real – or important. These people aren’t experts on the matter, yet they report YouTube and Facebook quality statistics to their immense platforms to publicly reject climate change. What kind of message does that send? That we shouldn’t believe people who have spent their career studying something most of us wouldn’t understand? That we shouldn’t trust the very organizations we created to study global warming and climate change?

It’s extremely important for influencers to think twice before they use their platform, since promoting indifference and conspiracy theories can have long-lasting consequences on blind followers.

The same goes for people who would believe in almighty solutions, like building enough solar panels and batteries to save the world. Spreading false information about green-tech is a very easy way to strengthen ‘anti-renewable’ stances. It’s easy to dismantle ‘miraculous solutions’ with logical arguments, and that can be dangerous in front of an uninformed audience. If even a fraction of people come to the incorrect conclusion that renewables are rotten from top to bottom, then we’re not headed in the right direction [we’ll discuss climate change deniers and greenwashing in more detail in the next section].

‘Good’ Influencers

Instead, we need to inform ourselves on the natural resources we depend on every day, the consequences of their exploitation, and the solutions that can steer us in the right direction. Only then can we make better choices as consumers, community members, and electors to help shape a better future.

As consumers, we can reduce our personal impacts by purchasing less and opting for more sustainable products when available. Unfortunately, there’s no way a single consumer can affect meaningful change at the large scales.

That being said, social movements that rally many consumers for an important cause can be effective. Between attending protests, signing petitions, boycotting, or simply denouncing the large-scale decision makers online, there are many ways of pressuring governments and companies. Alas, while these types of community-based solutions can spark change quickly, they can be brushed aside by large-scale players even quicker. After all, how could individuals know that the ‘net-zero’ goals announced by companies and governments aren’t all just tactics to keep consumers/investors/voters happy?

To answer that question, we’ll have to keep looking at the policies that are being passed and crunch the numbers. That can help us determine which governments actually back up their sustainability goals and which don’t – instead of rating how much everyone ‘cares’ based on empty promises.

In the end, it will come down to how much we want to achieve versus how scared we are of getting involved and taking action. For individuals to have an impact at larger scales, we have to voice our support for better policies and vote for governments that listen.