Social Justice via Social Media?

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Photo credit: Mickey Z.

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

Before you hit "post" on your next clever and profound critique of a group, tactic, and/or fellow activist, you might wanna ask yourself a few questions:

Did I check my privilege? Will this post serve to further unify or divide my activist community? Is it more designed to stroke my own ego than to advance the struggle? Is it founded on accurate and verifiable knowledge or is it based on hearsay and rumor? Is it more likely to inspire a reasoned, useful discussion or a time-eating, unproductive flame war (see below)? Am I using this post to address a personal vendetta in a passive-aggressive manner? Would it be wiser to turn off my phone/computer and arrange a face-to-face conversation about this issue? Do I regularly allocate my precious time to participating in lengthy social media flame wars (please see below)? If so, why? What am I doing on a regular basis -- beyond using social media -- to advance the cause of collective liberation? Seriously… did I check my privilege?

With the vast majority of humans -- especially American humans -- living in a world of willful denial and/or tacit complicity, our tiny population of activists cannot afford to endlessly bicker and fragment.

Yes, social media can be effectively used as a powerful catalyst for organizing, sharing urgent info, and connecting kindred spirits -- but they are ultimately designed for the same purposes as mass media: distraction and division.

Facebook Flame Wars: The Fire This Time

For anyone who is serious about inspiring, creating, and participating in social change, please allow me to mansplain a simple bit of unsolicited advice: AVOID FACEBOOK WARRIORS.

You know the type. They don’t necessarily troll, but rather start and maintain flame wars, provoke drama, sow division, and -- of course -- are way more involved with social media than activism.

I know it’s tempting to put such bullies "in their place” or to imagine yourself as the one who can and will change their ways, but again, I urge: Avoid them. Don’t “like” their posts. Don’t visit their pages. Remove them from your newsfeed. Do anything you can to prevent their insecure, cynical, and negative energy from slowing you down.

Consider this: While you got sucked into one of their counterproductive two-hour flame wars, about 150 women were raped in the United States; roughly 15 plant and animal species went extinct; 17,000 acres of rainforest were destroyed (mostly to make way for doomed cattle); 22,000 sharks were hunted down and killed while 2 million chickens were murdered for “food”; 222 children were born into poverty in the United States, while -- globally -- 2,500 children under the age of 5 died from preventable causes; and 3,600 humans starved to death.

All this and so much more happened while a few privileged humans focused their skills, time, and energy on an ego-tripping, movement-dividing social media melodrama.

Hopefully, you don’t need anyone to provide a list of the many progressively productive ways you could've utilized your time, but since it involved you sitting still and typing away, imagine if you instead chose to set aside those two hours to write letters to prisoners?

Is there a single person reading this article who would posit that two hours of flame war bullshit is time better spent than two hours of reaching out to those incarcerated within the Prison-Industrial Complex and letting them know they are not alone?

Here’s my story: Anyone who creates and/or participates in divisive social media flame wars is no comrade of mine.

Here’s my question: Are they comrades of yours?

#shifthappens

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

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Social Justice via Social Media? by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://worldnewstrust.com/social-justice-via-social-media-mickey-z.

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