I find social media to be, at times, more about being succinct and clever then actually doing anything. These tweets and posts spread awareness which is amazing but now that you are aware, you must do. Not just for yourself, but for your fellow citizens and the country as a whole. I’m not going to completely throw away the benefits of social media and its necessity in today’s social justice movements, but we can’t pat ourselves on the back too much for expressing ourselves to people who (for the most part) agree, or think similarly to us anyway. Especially when there is so much work to be done.
Now excuse me if you find my analogy a bit vulgar, but I find social media activism the equivalent to masturbation. You get the same sensation as if you actually had sex but in fact what you did was only self-satisfying and you didn’t really do anything at all. That is no different than when you close your app after posting your (or reposting another’s) opinion on the latest act of injustice that has gone viral. Now I may be a cynic for this opinion, but I feel those in positions of power do not truly fear these acts “going viral” because they are well aware, that only a fraction of those who are now aware, are going to actually do anything. In other words, Donald Trump does not care in the least bit about your “Fuck Trump” posts. I’ve protested outside of Trump tower and screamed shame at the Trump children as they walked out of the building with thousands of people chanting with me and what really stuck with me from that day was their faces as they ignored us and went about their business being escorted to their car and driving off. Now if they could even put on an act, that well, of being unfazed by the thousands screaming behind security blockades, then they certainly do not care about your posts about what a joke their father is.
Now last year, while I was dealing with bouts of depression, I deactivated all of my social media accounts. I found that the scrolling or posting didn’t actually make me feel better even with the socially responsible way (for the most part) I was using the apps. I felt like there was still something missing. Like there was something I was doing wrong, or missing out on. I was expressing myself and speaking out on social injustice and calling out some of my peers for being ignorant when it comes to causes that I felt where far too important for them to ignore. All of that was great, and I hope I, and others, continue to still do that and join uncomfortable conversations while there is an opportunity for them to be had but what I soon found was that it seemed the internet became the only place where those conversations were being had. Thus leaving the effect un-measurable as most people left the argument on the timeline and put their headphones on as they moved through life. Among other things (by no means am I placing my depression solely on this) this really started to bother me and the only thing I felt I could do is leave social media altogether and really figure out how I wanted to impact society.
It was, almost a social tax, I feel I owed.
You can have a million arguments over the internet (99% of which end with both sides only standing more firm in their position) and avoid the fact that there are real lives out there you can affect if you really want to. And that leads me to what I’m most proud of from this past year, my mentorship of this 10 year old boy, Elijah. I’ve written countless blog posts about politics, black improvement, and have had a hundred social media arguments with people and trust me when I say none of that even compares to when Elijah told me last month that he hasn’t been getting in trouble in school as much. Now I wasn’t scared to get in trouble I school and I’ve made it my job to mention, every time I hang out with Elijah, that that was really only to my detriment and getting that clever remark in to the teacher really wasn’t ever worth it. So three months into my mentorship of him, him going out of his way to let me know he’s really trying really made me proud. And I’m not presenting Elijah as the reason I can now be critical of my peers because I know I am still capable of much more and that’s one of the things I am focused on for this year. I am moving in that direction and I believe, if we all worked towards real impact, and had more patience than this quick reaction social media frenzy world we live in sometimes allows, then we would see the effects.
Now I write this today challenging you, the reader, who probably more or less agrees with my way of thinking at least enough to care about my opinion, to go out and be hands on about something. Mentor, volunteer, or anything that feels genuine to who you are as a person. We all don’t have to be Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X, but if we all just contributed something tangible, I feel we would be doing ourselves, the children of today, and future generations, an enormous favor. Now I’m only speaking for myself when I say this, but I came to find the social media activist thing was just not enough.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day