I've heard this phrase before and expect to hear it again in the future: "You're such a rebel." Funnily enough, I don't consider myself a rebel. I'm more of an activist. What's the difference?
Rebels like rebellion. They roll their eyes and talk back because they want to be difficult. Instead of picking their battles, they'll challenge anything that comes along. Some-but not all or even most-rebels wear leather jackets, dye their hair, and pierce various parts of their bodies.
Activists care about making a difference. They'll usually talk politely to people (unless they're being downright insulted) because they want support for their causes. They may collect signatures for petitions, boycott products, or use social networking to spread stories, facts, and opinions.
The main difference between the two is that activists care about what they're doing. They want to pave a road to a brighter future. Rebels aspire to be roadblocks.Stubborn, annoying roadblocks.
Lots of times, teenagers are shoved into the rebel category, whether they are rebels or not. Some people are rebels, some are activists, others are neither, and most fit into different categories depending on the circumstances.