Activism in the Time of Coronavirus

With the rise in self-isolation as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, many people are turning to alternative modes of social interaction as a way to seek comfort in isolation.

There have already been efforts by artists and activists about ways in which people staying at home can take advantage of this time to be creative and pursue projects they may not previously have had time for—like online writing workshops; socially-conscious roundups, like the 100 best movies directed by women; and virtual community happy hours and online museums.

As a result of isolation, there has also been a 22 percent increase in Instagram campaign impressions—as well as an overall increase in social media consumption and the use of dating applications, as people seek alternative modes of socializing with peers and romantic partners.

But all this social media consumption has an upside:

What if we re-orient ourselves to think about the future of virtual communication—and make it more conducive for social mobilization? 

The outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic has encouraged people to come up with new forms of organizing around art and activism, as well as using social media as a platform to debunk myths about the virus.

Online communities of people connected by sexuality, nationality or profession have risen up to help financially support those in their communities that have been hit hardest by the job cuts that have occurred within the past couple of weeks.

Coronavirus-related petitions have collected over 3.5 million signatures and an increase in online positivity has erupted as those stuck at home find creative ways in which to mobilize themselves to help those in need. 

Looking around at the ways in which people around the globe have dealt with the onslaught of the coronavirus has brought up the questions, like:

What would happen if this level of commitment were transferred to efforts to combat climate change? Or to abolish the electoral college? Or to institute universal healthcare? Or to pass the ERA? 

The additional time afforded to those stuck at home is a fantastic opportunity to turn toward learning about social issues. From books to poems to TV shows, there is content available on and off the Internet for you to dig into in order to make the most of time spent inside. 

As we all look ahead to the next few months, few things are certain: There is a possibility that a vaccine won’t be created for COVID-19 for over a year, businesses aside from pharmacies and groceries may be shut down for the foreseeable future, and all education will be conducted online for the first time in human history.

But what we can rely on is our collective resilience and commitment to stay engaged with the world around us—even if that engagement is happening on an individual or virtual basis.

Now is the time to educate ourselves, build momentum and organize around issues that we can fight for virtually—and hopefully someday in person too. 

Stuck? Here is a list of organizations to get started with:

Women’s and Reproductive Health

Legal Activism

Human Rights

LGBTQ Rights

Disability and Differently-Abled Rights

Environmental Justice

The coronavirus pandemic and the response by federal, state and local authorities is fast-moving. During this time, Ms. is keeping a focus on aspects of the crisis—especially as it impacts women and their families—often not reported by mainstream media. If you found this article helpful, please consider supporting our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.


Micaela Brinsley recently graduated from the Performance Studies department at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she is a feminist theatre artist, activist and writer with a background in performance art and labor rights. Passionate about social justice, she is an avid conversationalist committed to making the world a more just place. She has been writing for Ms. since the summer of 2017. You can contact her at mbrinsley [at]