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March 20, 2017

How to turn your armchair activism into online good

by John_A

A lot has been going on around the world lately, and you may have felt the need to express your frustrations at things happening that you don’t agree with. Sitting around and complaining about the injustices happening around you is fine (relatively speaking) when you’re a teen with limited resources. But as a grownup, you should help the causes you support. In addition to pledging money, signing petitions and participating in one of the many marches around the nation, there are several other ways for you to help people in need without having to leave your house. And you can do them regardless of your political leanings.

One of the most immediate things you can do, if you have space in your home, is volunteer to house those who need shelter. When Trump issued his original refugee ban in January, Airbnb announced it would provide free housing to refugees and those not allowed in the US. The company has since expanded the offer, pledging to accommodate 100,000 displaced people around the world over five years. If you have the room and wish to participate, you can sign up on Airbnb’s website.

Another opportunity to protect the oppressed or bullied is YouTube’s Heroes program, which recruits volunteers to flag inappropriate comments and videos, as well as add captions and subtitles to clips. As children, we relied on our parents or adult caregivers to defend us against mean kids or neighborhood tyrants. Now that we’ve grown up, we should support others as well, especially in places that can get as abusive as YouTube and the rest of the Internet.

Kiev, Ukraine - May 21, 2014: Woman holding a brand new Apple iPad Air and looking on  YouTube music playlist on a screen. YouTu

There are many ways to volunteer online without politics getting in the way, too. You can “micro volunteer” — that is, carry out small, short tasks to benefit ongoing projects. There are a plethora of options for you here — from playing a short game to snapping pictures of your food — that require very little effort at all. The website for Micro Volunteering Day, which happens every April 15th, lists dozens of ways you can help scientists, researchers and nonprofit organizations through simple tasks.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of the recent confirmation of climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, you can zero in on green volunteering opportunities. These include tagging images of animals to aid conservation efforts, recording snowfall levels or soil data to create real-time maps and reporting wild fruit and vegetable sightings to minimize food waste.

Food waste recycling caddy. The food waste in the UK is intended to be composted and thereby preventing it to be sent to landfil

Finally, if you have the cash to spare or you’re willing to openly declare your stance on a particular issue, you can always donate or add your name to a petition. Change.org is just one of many online petition portals that lets you support a movement. And if you’re willing to pick up the phone, calling your district representative is a more-effective way of ensuring your voice is heard on issues you feel strongly about. Calls to congressional offices are logged, and if enough of them are recorded, legislators sometimes have no choice but to reconsider controversial bills and policies.

Regardless of your motivation, a large part of being an adult is taking care of the people around you. And thanks to the vast reaches of the Internet, you can leave a real impact and truly benefit those in need.

Check out all of Engadget’s “Adult Week” coverage right here.

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