Now that Christmas is over, I’m using the space between Christmas and New Year’s Day to come up with, and share, my New Year’s resolutions.*
Yesterday’s resolution was to make more music in 2018. I had a couple of instances this past year where I reconnected the music I used to create, and I really loved that feeling. I’m hoping to bring more of it back into my life.
My next resolution is to be bolder on social media.
This is probably borderline ridiculous to my friends and family. I’m already pretty bold on social media.
However, I think I quieted down in 2017. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first one was very practical: my naturalization application last year. I’m not silly enough to believe that social media isn’t part of the review, and while the United States does protect free speech, I doubt that loud, professional anti-government digital content published by the applicant would help. However, now that’s over.
The others were more emotional. For example, backlash from internet trolls. I would include screenshots from some of the messages I’ve gotten throughout the years, but I don’t want to go searching for them because they make me uncomfortable.
There’s also discomfort from family and friends. It’s easy to learn a lot about me via a quick Google search, this worries my mother a lot.
But the biggest thing was criticism from the people I love.
“You will never change someone’s mind over social media.”
Stop getting into internet fights, they said. You’re convinced they’re right, and they’re convinced they’re right, and nothing will ever change.
In 2018, I’m challenging that.
Can An Internet Argument Be Won?
Are internet arguments a waste of time? Maybe. Let’s ask a different question.
How much of a dense, unthinking person does one have to be to have free and unlimited access to all of their friends’ opinions, thoughts and emotions, presented in a completely non-threatening way (on the internet, you don’t have to respond immediately!), and not even, for one second, respond to it?
I just can’t imagine that our opinion of each other is so low that we think that being exposed to our friends’ and loved ones’ pains and struggles will have no effect on how we think.
Honest conversation among friends isn't just a little way to boost social change, it's the only thing that has ever produced it. Click To Tweet Proponents of “you can’t change anyone’s mind over social media” will tell you to engage in more fruitful pursuits, like political activism and donating to charity. I’m not saying that those things aren’t important, but I am saying that we know that massive social change always follows cultural change.
Maybe our reluctance to admit that social media could be the catalyst for massive social change comes from a reluctance to admit we changed. We like to think we are right, and we especially hate admitting we were wrong. Add to that the special stigma about being wrong on cultural viewpoints, and it’s easier to not change. Those who do change keep quiet about it. So, we think social media activism doesn’t work.
Change The World By Learning To Admit You’re Wrong
Can I start this trend? Let me tell you all the awful things social media worked out of my system.
My friends, over social media, slowly educated me to my own blindness about LGBT issues. While I’ve been described as “winning the underprivileged lottery,” (which is ridiculous on its own, but that’s out of scope for this blog post) I was privileged enough to be born a heterosexual, cisgender female. That means that I was ignorant to many of the struggles facing the LGBT community and I was hurtful without knowing.
It was my friends over social media, sharing content they loved, that shed light on my own transphobia, and my own lack of understanding of asexuality. And no, I never reached out to the people whose posts made me see that “being cool with gay people” wasn’t enough. But I looked at the content they shared, I absorbed it, I learned, and I adjusted.
I’m also going to admit that looking at my friends’ social media posts brought to light my own anti-blackness. Anti-blackness in Latin American and Asian communities is well-known, but I, like many others, engaged in “but I’m not deliberately hostile, so I’m not racist” behavior. This is wrong. I learned this via silent reading of my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
I felt sad because it was brought to my attention that I was actually pretty racist. But instead of resisting, I decided to be an adult, deal with those feelings, and adjust my behavior.The biggest slacktivists in the world are the people who use the word slacktivism. Oh, you even have a word for how hard you refuse to be better? Congratulations! Click To Tweet
I became more compassionate through social media. If that happened several million more times, we would live in a different world.
Social Media Activism Is Real
As someone who uses social media for business, I would suggest that we’re letting our own human senses of pride and righteousness get in the way of admitting that social media activism is real, and even makes more sense than traditional activism in 2018.
Organizing via social media has the same benefits that we tout of social media advertising in the business world: it’s cheap per customer. It reaches wide audiences. And it contains a trust factor that traditional advertising (your so-called “real activism” of political organizations and charities) do not, because the content comes from friends.
There is no difference. The only difference is our resistance to it.
This is an ongoing trend in our quickly changing age of technology, by the way. It’s part of a broader, collective gasp at the advancements of technology. We say “overreach!” and “this is making us dumber!” but what we actually fear is change.
A person’s biggest fear is to become irrelevant. We’re afraid of artificial intelligence because if it’s smarter than us, we will become irrelevant. We’re afraid of social media activism because if our society’s values change, the structures we’ve built upon them will become irrelevant.
But, the structures that currently exist are shit. So in 2018, I am done being afraid: let’s keep posting to social media, especially about issues you care about. It’s not pointless, people are listening, and you are making a difference. Persevere: social media will change the world.
*I don’t actually believe in New Year’s Resolutions, and neither should you.
Continue the trend: what are some embarrassing confessions of personal growth via social media that you have? Share in the comments, or tweet about it.
Could your company’s social media strategy use some improvement? I’ve been promoting causes and products via social media since Xanga. Reach out. Don’t even know what Xanga is? Even more reason to reach out.