Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?
Initial thoughts: Yes, absolutely. Online is the perfect medium for social activism. The internet and social media connects people in so many ways, so why not in regards to activism too? Life is being lived online more and more, and social activism movements can join. I am fully behind other people using social media for social activism, but its not personally my style. I tend not to post anything too personal or controversial on social media so I myself wouldn’t take up any social issue online. (The most I ever do is retweet an occasional article that would subtly reveal my stance on an issue) But I never post anything personal. I kind of look at online social activism as something for other people. There’s a possibility that I don’t take it very seriously. I could be completely wrong but it seems that when something goes viral, it loses its credibility
Example of what I mean….
Is this/was this supposed to be social activism? The purpose was to raise awareness and money for ALS research (which I didn’t actually know for the longest time) so I suppose that would be considered social activism. It seems like when these causes go viral and eventually get ridiculous that everyone loses sight of the real purpose. Is this wrong? I don’t know.
Online social activism is all fine and dandy for other people, but its not really my thing. I think it can be a powerful tool and great way to reach people. But I’ll leave it to others.
This reminded me of a short video I had seen a while ago. Something to think about.
I am definitely a slacktivist.
I then read an article by Katia Hildebrant called In online spaces, silence speaks as loudly as words (link to her blog) She takes a somewhat different perspective and made a few points that I had never considered. I want to take some time to unpack the contrast between my initial opinion on social activism and my thoughts after reading her article.
“I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act. Being a good digital citizen is about so much more than being safe and responsible online. It’s about participating in meaningful ways to promote equity in networked spaces.”
Okay I know that I am incredibly privileged and I am learning to consider the ways that will impact my teaching. But I had never thought about my privilege in regards to the internet and online social activism.
First off, not everyone has internet access and the ability to speak freely. I can literally say anything I want on the internet without facing and cultural, religious, or political repercussions. The worst that could happen is I might upset some of my peers. So many people do not have this luxury as I do. Now I feel like I owe it to them to stand up
So now I’m torn. Is it wrong if I choose to use social media solely for my enjoyment? The initial intention for most type of social media was for entertainment, connecting, and sharing. The original purpose wasn’t for social activism; that’s something new that has slowly been developing. I just want to use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for their original mundane purposes! Am I really doing a bad thing by avoiding controversy and social activism in those spaces? What if I decide not to use any social media at all?
Returning to my initial questions Can online social activism be meaningful and worthwhile? Is is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? …. I don’t know. I think so. But I’m sure we can do better.
Now I’m rambling and still very confused. Please share your thoughts.