Like any diligent junior, I scrolled through Facebook in between homework assignments. Among animal videos and Coachella photo albums, I see articles: “Stand with Standing Rock!,” “What’s wrong with PC culture?” and “Assad murders Syrian children.”
While I’m inundated with my friends sharing posts of pressing local and global issues, there seems to be a lack of action.
No one posts pictures of themselves at town halls or donation pages for foundations, just links to the Borowitz Report or the Onion.
It’s easier to say that you’re in support of an ideal than to stand up for that ideal, of course.
But, who does that benefit? Although it’s an expression of your personal beliefs, it shouldn’t be a substitute for action.
While some may claim armchair activism spreads the message about a particular issue, this dissemination of knowledge is negligible.
People seldom carefully read and internalize an article over watching a colorful food video or looking at “dank memes.” It’s simply the wrong forum to flex your political consciousness.
Armchair activism is the new feel-good project of our generation. For armchair activists, if they share it, they solve it.
How does sharing an article about Lemonade by Beyonce advance productive discussions about intersectional feminism?
Short answer: it doesn’t. Of course, not everyone on social media wants to solve a problem, but the problem is that not enough people do.
Rather than advocate and get involved in issues that concern us, we often content ourselves in passive thumbs ups and “atta-boys.”
It’s often easier to get involved than many realize: rallies happen nearly every weekend, donations are easy online and volunteer opportunities are endless.
Ignoring concrete actions is a mark of incredible privilege that often pervades our community.
Our bubble allows us to ignore issues or only noncommittally have opinions about relevant issues.
I did not have a sense of the proximity and relevance of social and political issues to the people they affect until I started traveling frequently for debate.
Living in a more socially progressive part of the nation doesn’t often demonstrate the urgent need for activism. But that also doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference regardless of your geographical location.
They don’t care whether or not you’re an “ally” or you “stand with them.”
Assad doesn’t stop massacring his own people because you clicked a button.
And certainly Trump doesn’t disappear because you sneered at his ineptitude or tiny hands. Following South Park doesn’t problematize safe space culture.
Get up and be a real activist if you care.
You don’t have to be affected by xenophobia towards refugees to help a refugee or able to vote to make phone calls for a political candidate.
You don’t have to be a woman to refuse to allow violence against women to be swept under the rug.
The world may seem like it’s crumbling around us: global warming, terrorism, political upheaval or what have you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Go ahead and share your post with a clever little hashtag, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself running out of hashtags for the issues you were complicit in.