ACE INTERVIEW: Alex Silva on Influencer Power in Activism

Raquel Martinez

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December 4, 2021

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Alex Silva (he/him) is a recent high school graduate, climate content creator, and founder of the EcoTok collective. He uses his voice on social media to advocate for different environmental causes and previously led an environmental club at his school for three years. Alex also volunteers for Chispa NV, a grassroots climate organization that focuses on environmental justice.


Raquel Martinez (RM): When did you first learn about the climate crisis? What was your immediate reaction?

Alex Silva (AS): I first learned about the climate crisis when I was in middle school. I saw a documentary called “Racing Extinction” about how human practices are causing the next mass extinction and how greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. I immediately wanted to get involved and reduce my own carbon footprint but I was frustrated because I was really young with no true control over my carbon footprint.

RM: How did you first get involved in the climate movement?

AS: I first got involved in the climate movement when I was starting out high school and I started posting about different environmental causes and issues. During my sophomore year, I was able to lead an environmental club where we learned more about the climate crisis along with environmental injustices in our own community. This led to volunteer events such as cleanups and tree planting events and even a student-led climate strike.

Alex volunteering with members of his high school environmental club

RM: When did you decide to start using social media as a tool for your advocacy and what led you to that decision?

AS: I first decided to use social media as a tool when I realized I can influence my peers even when I’m not at school or at social events. I wanted to reach as many people as possible and get as many people on board and motivated. I first made posts on a Snapchat story and posted random facts every day. Eventually, I moved to Instagram and TikTok and gained much more traction there.

RM: What have you found is the most effective way to use social media to educate an audience?

AS: I found that the most effective way to use social media is to keep it simple. Nobody wants to have to sit through minute-long videos that will most likely bore them. It’s also really effective when posts aren’t inducing eco-anxiety. People want to help and hearing a video about how it’s too late to stop the climate crisis is extremely discouraging. Giving people hope is what works best. We must inspire and influence positive change.

RM: Could you tell us about EcoTok? What led you to start this collective?

AS: Ecotok is a group of individuals with different niches in environmentalism. There are scientists, activists, students, etc, and we all share our thoughts and information from our perspectives. I wanted to start this collective for that very reason: perspective. As a student, I see the climate crisis differently than a scientist and we can use that to work together and think of solutions to problems. I met an entire community of environmentalists on TikTok and I wanted to create a bond with one another. I wanted an audience that could go to one place for many different pieces of information regarding the environment or environmental issues.

RM: How do you think influencer culture has contributed to the climate movement?

AS: I feel as though Influencer culture has had both positive and negative contributions to the climate movement. There have been countless videos of people creating “climate doom” posts that induce fear and anxiety and cause so many young people to want to give up. But on the other hand, there are also so many positive influencers that create inspiring and reassuring videos.

People want to help and hearing a video about how it’s too late to stop the climate crisis is extremely discouraging. Giving people hope is what works best. We must inspire and influence positive change.

RM: Who are some of your favorite influencers in the climate space and where can we find them?

AS: Some of my favorite influencers in the climate space are Doria Brown (aka @EarthStewardess), Alaina Wood (aka @ItsTheGarbageQueen), Isaias Hernandez (aka @QueerBrownVegan) and so many more. They are all such inspiring and hard-working individuals in the movement.

RM: What are some tips you could provide young people who are looking to follow a similar path in the digital space as you have?

AS: Take breaks! Creating content on a constant basis can definitely be draining at times, so take breaks when you need them! Also, definitely don’t overwork yourself: You are one person and you can only do so much. Be sure to pace yourself.

RM: How can individuals support your work?

AS: You can support my work by simply following my socials and sharing my content!

RM: Thank you for joining us!


All photos courtesy of Alex Silva.

Answers may have been edited for length.

Want to read more? Check out the ACE Blog!

Raquel

Raquel Martinez

Raquel is a Cuban-American born and raised in Miami, Florida where she is based. Throughout the course of her career, Raquel has focused on delivering environmental education and leading hands-on stewardship initiatives throughout south Florida. Raquel enjoys roller skating, playing bass, spending time outdoors, and being with her pets.

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