The Thunberg Effect: Social Media in her Fight Against Climate Change

Alexa W., journalist

IMPORTANT: As many of you know, Australia is currently suffering from bushfires that are bring about mass destruction.  If you would like to donate, but do not know how I have provided a link to an article with information on the crisis and how to donate.

In December’s feature article about Leonardo DiCaprio, I examined how he used social media and his influence to bring awareness to climate change as well as other issues.  This month’s theme is social media, so I decided to examine Greta Thunberg’s usage of social media in the fight against the climate crisis.

Unlike Leonardo DiCaprio and the many other celebrities out there, Thunberg did not have an already huge platform to project her voice from.  Thunberg, a Swedish native, became aware of climate change at the early age of eight and by May of 2018 went on to win a climate change essay competition for a Swedish newspaper.  This very essay catapulted her into the world of activism, starting the School Strike for Climate Change effort only three months later. Helping her in this effort, she claims, is her Asperber’s Syndrome which she considers to be her superpower.  Thunberg, while only 17, truly has emerged as the world’s superhero in the fight against climate change and to help save the environment.

How does she do it?

Herein lies the million dollar question.  How did Thunberg rise to fame and how has her movement spread in the scale that it has?  The answer: social media. Social media acts as a powerful middleman in the process of spreading information to the general public.  While this power can be abused, many people have also used to it to truly make a difference. Thunberg represents the latter. Through her social media accounts on both Instagram and Twitter, Thunberg has risen to fame and has helped bring about major awareness to the climate issue, 

In 2018, Thunberg launched the Fridays for Future movement–or School Strike for Climate–which encourages students to skip school to demand action against climate change.  This movement has its own instagram page which helps to inform people about local strikes and highlights those participating. Thunberg herself documents her journey on her social media accounts.  According to her instagram, she just recently completed week 74 of her climate strike action which took place in Lausanne. These initiatives truly convey her determination to go against climate change.  In fact Thunberg took it one step further by choosing to travel to her different locations via the ocean on a boat. However, her message is not to tell people to do the same, but rather to show people that the way we live is unsustainable and that changes need to be made to fix that. 

“We do not have to wait. We can start the change right now. We the people.”

Thunberg’s climate strike initiative had inspired millions across the globe as they have seen her endeavours through their phone or computer screens.  In fact, in September nearly 4 million people joined her in a strike that spread across 161 countries–which Business Insider says is the largest climate strike in history.  Fridays For Future continues to elicit a positive response across the globe with many people of all generations participating in the strikes.  

Thunberg’s social media presence and activism helped Thunberg’s to be heard across the globe.  Eventually she was invited to speak at a UN Climate Action Summit where she gave a truly inspiring and informative speech about the consequences that come from environmental negligence and climate change.Not only is she bringing awareness to climate change through both her actions and her social media presence, she is inspiring others across the globe to take action as well.

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight” 

Ultimately, Greta Thunberg is a true hero as she has helped give more attention to climate change than has ever been seen before.  Thunberg seeks to invoke a change across the globe, to convey the power of those who are angry with the current situation, and to simply bring awareness to an issue that has existed for too long.  Thunberg possesses the knowledge, conviction, and articulation needed to spread her voice, social media simply acts as a vessel to carry her in her journey to fight against climate change.  


To help donate to the Australian BushFire Crisis please click the link below.  This will take you to an article with information on the fires and how to donate.  

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/07/australia-fires-how-to-help-donate-victims-animals/2832145001/

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