My Story: Feeling Advocacy Burnout From Too Much Social Media Exposure

By Saniya Ghanoui —

MB discusses the ways in which social media may be harmful for activists and gives advice on how to have a healthy relationship with social media.


OBOS Today: Do you think social media can, because we have all this information just like, you know, at the tip of our fingers, and we’re getting all this news all the time, do you think that can also kinda’ serve to stifle some of that progress ‘cause it can lead to people feeling information overload or feeling responsible for people, you know, crises all over the world? 

 MB: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think there’s something, there’s something that, like you said– I think information overload but also there’s something called like, what is it? Like advocacy burnout basically where like you care so much about so many things, and that’s good, you know? Don’t stop caring. But if you care so much about so many things, there’s only so much of yourself that you can put into a movement before you burn out and you can’t do it anymore so I think, I think it’s, it’s, it’s kind of, especially now where like everyone’s quarantined, everyone’s lifeline, if you will, to the outside world is through social media, I think that there’s a very fine line where we shouldn’t not have, you know, important things on social media but I definitely think that sometimes there can be pressure to care about everything or I think it’s okay to let yourself take a step back, you know? I don’t think you are a bad advocate or you are suddenly apathetic to [laughs] inequality if you say like I need to step back, I’m not, you know, shutting down a conversation but I need to make sure that I’m okay to continue with this conversation, even if it doesn’t affect you personally so I think sometimes it can be almost shaming if you say okay let me take a social media break, but sometimes that’s super, super important for people and I don’t think that’s talked about enough. 

 OBOS Today: Have you experienced that yourself? Um, just feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that’s going on the world or even what’s happening recently in London, that was an attack on a white woman and, and often we see that, you know, women of color or trans women, trans men, they’re often the victims of these attacks and people. So, it’s like saying even though white women are the standard of beauty or often seen as the victims, they are still, even in these cases, actually the victims and still vulnerable and it’s just. it can be very overwhelming and seeing all these acts of violence all the time. So, have you ever felt yourself just completely shutting down or just not, how do you see your, feel in response to that besides just anger on behalf of someone else? ‘Cause in some degree, it affects you too, you feel that fear, that vulnerability yourself too, I’m assuming. 

 MB: Yeah, and I think that, I think what really struck me about the London situation was like I don’t know a single woman who can’t relate to, you know, like being afraid to walk home at night or double-checking to make sure no one’s following her, or you know. I personally have had some situations where like, like I’m a black belt in karate [laughs] and I’m 5’9’’ so like when I’m out, I don’t necessarily worry as much as a lot of my friends do but that’s because I’m always the one almost corralling everyone, you know? [laughs]. Like I am the one to make sure everyone is okay, but I think, I think what strikes me is that of course, you know, of course I’m affected. I think that I personally, if we’re talking about social media, I have a really healthy relationship, I think, with social media and limiting my social media access or kind of involvement, um especially I think I realized that in quarantine is like you need to diversify and be able to make sure that you are not only maintaining relationships on Instagram.