The topic for today: Slacktivism vs. Activism.
WOW, am I glad we are talking about this. A few days before last class I was contemplating my digital presence on Facebook. I have many family and friends who have very different views on the world than I do. And so it goes.. the continuous battle of what to post, what not to post, how much to post about certain subjects, etc.
I have been told many times that I am hypersensitive or hard to talk to because of my position on many social issues. This bothers me. I seriously considered withdrawing from posting articles related to “controversial” topics recently because of how bothered I am. I was and still kind of believe.. I am too “uptight” (If anyone has suggestions on how to combat this.. please fire them off in the comments).
After reading Katia’s blog:
I crept carefully through her words and considered the comments of the users below. I read the post and the comments over and over trying to figure out where I stand. On one hand, I agreed with not telling others what they use the internet for but on the other, I found a resurgence of personal discovery. As I read on in agreeance about the amount of privilege I possess and the duty I have to the digital world as an educator, I could feel my confidence rise. I could feel that space again where advocacy felt right and silence closed in on me like a dark chamber.
Here is my argument on why it is important to stand up in real life and online:
I don’t want to be hard to talk to but I honestly don’t think life only extends to cheering for your favorite sports team or traveling to see the seven wonders of the world. While these events are grand and make people happy.. it is important for those of us who have the privilege to recognize it and do something positive with it rather than acknowledge it and scoff at their gift.
As an individual, I value caring about and being passionate about things outside myself. Therefore, I’m not okay with racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. kind of jokes. The love in my heart extends to diverse people around the world and I will go to bat for them at any time to make the world a better place.
I have valued these things for awhile now… but in the beginning, I valued them in silence (for the most part). Until I was told by an admirable professor that “when you say nothing in the presence of something you believe is wrong.. you give power to the oppressor”. you take the side of the oppressor by default…and so began my years of making my voice heard in a room. I don’t often get taken seriously and I do often have my beliefs held against me. I still struggle with how to present who I am in a less “aggressive” and clean cut way. i.e. knowing what to say to someone when they say something you don’t agree with, without getting into an argument.
Que, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are two places where I have no fear or anxiety sharing my thoughts and the things I believe in. It is so easy for me to just click share and off it goes into the world. I feel good when I do this because it is less scary and it makes me feel like I’m exposing people to ideas they may not have been aware of. I believe people have certain feelings about diverse groups of people due to lack of exposure, knowledge, and empathy. By sharing posts online I hope that I can extend new information to my audience, even if they are on the -against– side of my beliefs.
Does using social media as a platform for activism make me a “poser”, “fake”, or a “slacker”? I don’t think so. I use the internet as a platform for these things because I know exactly how powerful it can be. There are times where I can stand up for what I believe in, in an effective and assertive way but I’m still young, still learning, and still practicing the action of being an activist. I would also argue that social media has motivated me more now than ever to physically participate in activist events. Based on what I like and post, I get notifications for similar events going on near me. Now that is cool.
Social media gives me an out for discussing the things I care about until I can feel confident in my ability to do it in person. I believe that you cannot change anyone’s mind in a battle of yelling or criticism. I often say that “calling people IN”, rather than “calling them OUT” is more useful. No one has open hearts, minds, or ears when they are angry. For the moments I feel confident in my knowledge and ability to have a dialogue with someone I will do so. For the moments I am lacking, and the moments where I am just doing my digital justice duty, I will post about social issues and feel confident that someone has been reached or made aware of something new.