8 Inspiring Teens Who Are Using Social Media To Change The World
Remember Myspace? There was the playlist feature, glittery graphic text and, of course, the highly-coveted Top 8, which pitted your most beloved buds against each other for a spot in your public friendship circle.
A lot has changed since those early days of social networking. Beyond a noticeable reduction of glittery text, one of the most salient developments of current social sites has been their ability to create and connect communities. While in the past sites like Myspace mainly centered on one person's group of friends (and the occasional Internet acquaintance), platforms like Twitter have given a tremendous amount of agency to users to connect -- and influence the rest of the world -- on important social issues.
Most impressive? A whole bunch of the people sparking modern online movements haven't even reached age 20. Not only are these teens educating others with their insightful ideas (some of which are packaged as hilarious memes; they know their audience), they're also building socially-conscious communities that extend well beyond the confines of geography or familial status, and are instead bonded by a shared sense of purpose.
Here are some social justice stars who, despite being less than two decades old, are already changing the world, one tweet at a time.
What She's About: While she's not making riot grrl jams, she's serving fresh facts about intersectional feminism on her blog, queenfeminist.com.
"I believe that the birth of social media catalyzed the fourth wave of feminism, allowing women from all over the world to connect, share ideas and empower each other," she told MTV News. "I feel fortunate to be alive during this time, and my goal is to contribute to the Internet revolution by sharing my knowledge on feminism, LGBTQIA+ rights and everything political. Feminists of the past laid the groundwork for us today, and my goal is to pick up their torch."
Name: Ziad Ahmed
What He's About: Ziad is the founder of Redefy, a multi-platform organization dedicated to fighting bias and stereotypes. You might recognize him from MTV's past coverage -- NBD or anything, but because of his great work, he was invited to White House's Iftar dinner this June and dined with President Obama.
"My passion for social justice is rooted in my unwavering belief that all injustices are one injustice," Ziad told MTV News. "I advocate against sexism, homophobia, racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-semitism and all forms of discrimination as I believe in the power of intersectionality. I can't just pick one social justice topic that means the most to me because overwhelmingly we cannot achieve equality unless we campaign for human rights for all."
Name: Camryn Garrett
What She's About: Camryn is a blogger who's passionate about dismantling racism and sexism. Despite her young age, Camryn already "really passionate about racism and sexism," two issues she unpacks on her blog, "For All the Girls Who Are Half Monster."
Name: Nicole Maines
What She's About: Nicole is a young transgender woman whose story has been written about in the book "Becoming Nicole" by Pulitzer Prize-winning science reporter Amy Ellis Nutt, set to be released on October 20.
"The social justice issues that I'm passionate about are centered around trans equality, specifically for trans youth in schools and making sure that we get the same treatment and opportunities as everyone else," she told MTV News.
Name: Aliyah Chavez
What She's About: The Stanford student is a writer for Natives In America, an online literary publication dedicated to telling the stories of Native Americans.
"There are Native people who live in extreme states of poverty," Aliyah told MTV News. "There are Native children who are subjected to high rates of domestic violence. There are people out there still dressing up as Indians for Halloween. These issues matter. Heck, they mattered 100 years ago."
"With my advocacy, I can only hope that people realize we still exist. We need to raise strong Native youth," she continued. "We need to teach them to fight the good fight. We need educated scholars to be a contradiction to people's perception of Indian."
Name: Ruwaida Ibrahim
What She's About: The self-proclaimed "socially and political aware teen/intersectional feminist" has amassed almost 8,000 followers by frequently speaking out against Islamophobia and anti-blackness.
"I'm passionate about focusing on the oppression people of color experience," she told MTV News. "I focus on immigration, protecting black lives, protecting Muslim lives, anti-blackness."
Name: Caitlyn Cannon
What She's About: In May, Caitlyn made national headlines when she used her spot in her school yearbook to make an important point about sexism. ICYMI:
Now, the 18-year-old is dishing out feminist realness on the Internet.
"As a feminist, I'm really passionate about gaining equality between the sexes," she told MTV News. "I also would like to see equality between all races, easier and cheaper access to higher education, and a diminishing of the gap between the poor/middle class and the rich. I believe that educating people on all of these different topics can lead to a better understanding of them, which could help bring about change."
Name: Georgina Panagopoulou
What She's About: Georgina has built a solid Twitter following of over 15,000, and that number is growing every day. Most recently, her contribution to the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag was retweeted over 4,000 times.
"I'm here for intersectional, inclusive feminism and body positivity because I want all women to have the same rights and opportunities as men and love themselves in a patriarchal society that has taught them otherwise," she told MTV News. "I'm here for gay pride because I want people to understand that there are more than two genders and sexual orientations and spread visibility. I'm here for social and racial justice because I want to support people of color on their way to justice and break the structures of a system that has been built on institutionalized racism and oppression. And these are just some of the things I'm here for."