Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’
by Bill TurnerFacebook. Twitter. A host of social networking, social media sites exist, some more involved than others, each with a niche. Facebook, the Farmville of social media, allows you to pretend to do something when you are actually accomplishing nothing more than socializing without having to be bothered with silly people. Who needs them spilling beer on the sofa anyway? Then there is Twitter, a fast paced, highly interactive and often vulgar way to interact with people without having to be around people. For the agoraphobic, the social media explosion must be a blessing, for the rest of us, it is a black hole for time, where once spent, it is gone forever and can never be replaced. Having a black hole for time, around the house, is handy, it keeps you from having to do things like spend time with the kids, play ball with the dog, go to church or fishing with your buddies. Besides, who wants to go to church when no one will be tending your farm, your mafia family or worse yet, seeing what that irritating Alan Colmes has to say on some political subject? After all, you can reply to Mr. Colmes on Twitter and tell your friends on Facebook what an activist you are. The only problem with this entire scenario is that the activists on social media aren’t activists.
If you blog, tweet or post on Facebook and consider yourself to be an activist, you are not part of the solution to whatever problem you want to solve, you are part of the problem. Online activism has replaced complaining about social or political issues face to face, where you might actually get punched in the face for some of the things you say online. Yet, these new media activists can lie to themselves, family, friends and each other about how they are “making a difference.” The only difference you are making is some poor kid in Malaysia, putting together your footwear has been laid off because you aren’t buying shoes as often and no one is ringing my door bell, p**ing me off as I write this, with Facebook and Twitter humming away in the background. Aha! A hypocrite you exclaim in that smug, “gotcha” tone. Except, aside from p***ing and moaning in this rant, I actually run an activist group and loathe what social media has done to the American people. While Iranians are being killed for protesting the outcome of their last election, Americans are loudly, well, as loud as they can type, discussing the merits of being a birther and doggate. The humanity of it all. I am sure that this next paragraph will anger those I haven’t already sent into a rage on Twitter or their Facebook wall.
P***ing and moaning online is not activism. Shocking. I know. But, if you believe the lies you tell others about your activism, you are, well, like most of America, a keyboard warrior, a coward, lazy, and resigned to failure and tyranny. What is activism? Activism is community organizing (No. Not helping pimps get a home loan or to run a brothel). Activism is actually organizing your state, county, city, neighborhood or block, in a call to action. It involves an organizational structure, no matter how informal and it involves interacting with people, real people, in real time, face to face. Activism involves risk. Activism involves courage. Activism requires gravitas.
Unlike someone who complains online, activism requires that you know your subject matter, know what it is you want to change, and then recruit people in order to facilitate that change. Odds are, along the way, you will meet with indifference or conflict, while knocking on doors, talking with people and establishing a network of people in the area, so that you can make change. Those social skills you have been ignoring online come in handy. When someone vehemently disagrees with you and wants to punch you in the face, there is no “Block” option, aside from wax on/wax off and your verbal skills. Activism takes character as it involves risk.
We are all born activists. Every single one of us was once an activist. As a kid, you actively engaged mom, dad, or both, to get something you wanted. You didn’t take no for an answer. You were persistent. You armed yourself with information and despite the rejection you faced, you persisted over the resistance. I got my bb gun by being an activist, or as my father called it a “PITA” (Pain in the Ass). After securing him as an asset in my quest, I continued to work on mom, with his help. The strength of any community organizer is not in how many people agree with him or her, but if they can get them to act, to change the outcome of what they are working on. I did. I got my bb gun. I didn’t shoot my eye out (although there were some kids in the neighborhood who came close to needing an eye patch in the ever present bb gun wars). The lesson here is this: We are all born community organizers, until our parents beat it out of us, or the schools break our wills. Some of us never could be broken.
America, the choice is yours. You can be a keyboard warrior, a coward, and stay on the sidelines, or you can get in the game and actually make a difference, by becoming a community activist again. As a child you had no trouble being an activist and if you let that free spirit return, you can make a difference in America. Activism is not for the left and it is more than hiding behind a keyboard. When your children and grandchildren are knitting prayer rugs, will you tell them you did all you could online (And, yes, that was back when you could still leave the house alone), or will you keep them from growing up under tyranny and oppression? I choose freedom.