Social Media Activism: OK. Also Not Enough.

I have a serious love-hate relationship with social media. Love the baby pics and cat videos; hate the subtle encouragement of carefully curated phonyism. Love the possibility of connecting with people on a meaningful level; hate people mistaking transparency for full disclosure. Love catching news and thought-provoking stuff my friends share; hate folks thinking they can change minds with a click.

I'd long accepted that social media activism was "slacktivism."

In the past year, though, I've seen some friends post thought-provoking stuff, and then facilitate the ensuing comment thread with patience and persistence, ultimately resulting in a few others accepting the challenge to think and act differently. I haven't witnessed a Facebook post transform a bigot into a justice warrior, but some social media activists seem to be successful in pushing others, incrementally, in the direction of questioning the systems and their own personal, deeply ingrained beliefs that keep us from making gains toward equality.

And then there's the heart-warming sensation I never get enough of, White Nonsense Roundup.

I'm accepting of some social media activism, and I know it is not a substitute for in-person action, a.k.a. showing up. There are rallies, protests, meetings, and other actions that we must all take, to exercise our voices and advocate for what's right. As I heard DeRay McKesson say early this year, "Protesting is truth telling in public, using our bodies to speak." If we don't show up, we aren't saying much of anything meaningful.

One Year.

One year ago, I watched with horror as everything I thought I knew about politics in the U.S. exploded before my eyes. Since then, I've been one of many Americans picking up the pieces and figuring out how we put it all back together -- better, stronger, longer-lasting.

We've learned things, and yesterday's elections feel like a tiny bit of validation and progress. I feel more hopeful than daunted by uncertainty. The biggest lesson I've learned is that, "He / she is a professional; this is a job for professionals," does not apply to politics and politicians. At my level, it's not so much that I need to be involved in politics as it is I need to stay aware and knowledgeable, and engage and raise my voice, as a citizen in a democracy is obligated.

My last blog post occurred ten months ago, at the start of an organizing whirlwind that is just now leaving space to breathe. I've got a lot on my mind that I'll explore here in the coming weeks. 

No One Is Coming To Save Us.

We’ll have to save ourselves.

BTW I have heard not heard back from the BLM Austin chapter, nor from Our Revolution. But I’ve been flexing my calling, emailing, letter writing, and blogging muscles — and I hope you have been, too. Because no one is coming to save us. And there is a lot of work to do.

I’m thinking back to my Tuesday driver last week, and his insistence on a long-winded narrative that had no factual basis. His ability to accept what he’d heard, without any proof, and repeat it back verbatim. A question that’s been on my mind for a long time now, that needs to be answered, is: How can facts win over a false narrative? Is that even possible, if facts and fantasies don’t exist in the same plane?

Early this year, I’d read about Derek Black (here’s a good article) , the hope / future / heir apparent of the white nationalist movement, until he went to college and learned that people who were different from him weren’t necessarily bad — in fact, those he got to know were decent, honest, kind, and trustworthy people. He risked being ostracized from his family to live in honor of a new, inclusive set of values, incompatible with white nationalism. 

I don’t know that any of Black’s college friends tried “fact”-ing him. They helped him experience for himself, rather than allow him to accept what he’s been told.

Not everyone who voted for the president-elect is as blatantly racist as Derek Black. But how can we can help people we care about, who voted for the president-elect, experience different slices of life (aka expand their experiences), so that they allow experience to challenge their fantasy?


Hey, guess what? The blog is now linked up to the Tiny Rebel Daily email list! So M-F I'll post to the blog, and if you’re subscribed to the Tiny Rebel Daily newsletter, you'll get the post emailed to you with the Tiny Rebel Daily header. Based on the test emails yesterday, it works but doesn’t look very pretty. I’ll sort that out in the next couple of weeks. For the time being though, if you are seeing this blog post via MailChimp email, you can now click through to the blog post and leave a comment!!! (If you are wondering what the Tiny Rebel Daily is, you can access and read the archives here.)

So how are your stepped-up civic efforts going? For those of you who were unsure where to contribute your time and talents, what have you decided? Tell me! And then I’ll stop bugging you. Probably. ;)

Here’s my update: This weekend, I found tons of information on Our Revolution’s current work, but had to submit a form to inquire about specific volunteer opportunities. I found less info online about Black Lives Matter’s Austin chapter, but likewise submitted a form there, and I included info from my volunteer profile that I wrote last week so that they can connect me with someone who needs the kind of help I can provide. And I have been reading some thought-provoking essays and commentary on language, facts, and media, like this op-ed about ordinary citizens vigilantly fact-checking in this new world of make-believe, and this powerful argument for precision in our words. It's inspiring my own thinking and writing, which I'll share in the coming weeks and hope you'll help me figure it out.