When the video started collecting views, Joshi made the document public and urged her followers to share it with their community members. Just two months before the 2020 presidential election, Joshi really wanted to make a difference and get Trump out of office. And she did. “People told me they used my document on phone banking calls in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania,” says Joshi. “One person in particular used it for 3,000 calls in Georgia.”
When Joshi started college at the University of California at Berkeley, she studied neuroscience. She didn’t feel that her real passions – for the environment and politics – could ever become professional. But when her videos went viral and she learned that her document was being used for phone banking in swing states, she felt something change. âI convinced myself that I couldn’t do anything,â she recalls. “All of that fizzled out, all of my fears and doubts about my own abilities.”
Joshi says she now knows that organizing digitally can make a difference, and she has restructured her life plans accordingly. None of this would have happened without TikTok, she says.
Sofia Ongele, 21, grew up in Santa Clarita, California, where a councilor called herself a “proud racist” when she was 9. She views this incident as one of hundreds of moments in her life that took her to where she is now. Ongele, who is Black, says she feels she has no choice but to engage in politics as a fringe group member.
During the summer of 2020 when COVID was raging, Sofia did what so many people her age did: turn to TikTok. The coverage of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd was everywhere and Ongele was devastated. In the first video she made, she just cried, she says. “From Rodney King to now, nothing has happened to cops who kill black people or harm black people for no apparent reason,” says Ongele. She felt like she was screaming into the void, but then the void began to listen and respond.