Why Social Media is Not a Productive Outlet for Activism
As everyone is extremely aware, we live in an age where social media is an outlet for not only pointless selfies and life updates but also political frustration and activism. It is where the ordinary person can vent their feelings and protest the government’s policies and social absurdities. Let’s fast forward past the ridiculous fact that there are problems such as racism and Anti-Semitism in America in 2016 and get to the point where we do something about it. Luckily, there is one positive outcome to all of the past mistakes we have made as a country: we can look back and learn. The only problem is that we seem to have forgotten about how we overcame these issues in the past and the massive amount of effort it took to see the slightest progress.
The American Revolution, the Abolition Movement, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, gay rights activism, and many more social movements are an extensive part of American history. While all of these movements fought for different things, they all had similar moments of action. Rosa Parks didn’t write a letter in outrage to her friends and adversaries. She took a physical stand out in the open where she could not be ignored. Filmmakers and artists, such as Spike Lee and Barbara Kruger, consistently create tangible work that discusses racism, police brutality, and women’s rights. While there are advocates who are doing similar things today, the number of followers and consistency of action has decreased.
Unfortunately, history is doomed to repeat itself as new generations lose the personal connection to these issues. It is now the 21st century and we have a tendency to grumble at the world and vent our problems on Twitter and Facebook. Afterward, we feel complacent and believe that by expressing our feelings, we’ve done something to help. Here’s the truth. An angry Facebook rant about the problems of inequality in America does not make a real difference. Although you may inspire a friend to read up on the issue, it is more likely that your followers scrolled past your angry Twitter post where it got lost among videos of cats being frightened by cucumbers. Past movements in America have been successful because the people who felt violated and wanted to do something had no other outlet than to get out into society and physically do something about it. In 2016, we hide behind our keyboards because it has become so easy to feel part of a movement by just using our words.
Here is what history has taught us to do in a time where civil rights are being violated and people are resorting back to primitive ways of thinking. Each generation needs to recognize their respective positions and together we can try to make a positive change. These are foolproof ways to make sure we improve as a country, no matter what a person’s stance is on an issue.
Millennials- You’re mad, stunned, angry, upset? Good. Study political science or minority rights and make it your mission to become a politician. Our generation needs the kind of strong representatives and leaders that will stand up for what is right. Make a difference from within the system.
Parents- Teach your children that equality is a real thing. Tell them to stick up for the people around them no matter what their physical appearances or personal preferences might be. Tell them every human’s life is just as valuable as their own. Show them you believe this by practicing these ideas every day. Make sure the next generation does not have the same mentality that we do.
Creatives- Go out and make inspiring content. Use your talents to reach a wider audience and use the beauty of art to spread your message. This might even be a way to let the Internet work in your favor. While your followers will probably scroll past your three-paragraph Facebook rant, they might just stop to check out your piece of art.
Everyone else- Just be better. Be kind to the people around you. Understand that being a good person comes with helping others and not just being a bystander. Just because you are not making the world a worse place does not mean you are making it better. Follow the golden rule.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that these problems do not get solved overnight. The civil rights movement lasted decades to just legally earn civil liberties and then many more years to really see a difference. If we want our world to become a better place we have to be willing to put our phones in our pockets and have real conversations. We need to create real substantial products so that in a decade our country can look back and say, “we learned.”
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