With the help of social networking, we now live in a connected world. While some of us may be separated by miles, time zones and difference in cultural customs, we can all band together and unify via social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which not only lets us make friends and understand people’s struggles across the world, but this helps us fight against injustices and speak out against what’s wrong on a global scale. Right?
Just as much as social media and networking is empowering, it is equally disempowering. I would even argue MORE disempowering than anything opposite.
Sure, when Nicki Minaj released very disrespectful single “art” featuring Malcolm X captioned as “Looking Ass Nigga” during Black History Month, people came together, signed a petition and because of large outcry that started in the social networking communities, her label decided to pull the Malcolm X’s picture and Nicki offered a public apology. This may seem to be productive – at least in a small way. But what about when it comes to larger, more grave injustices. How then does social media help?
When Oscar Grant was murdered, many people watched the YouTube video showing a Bart officer shooting Oscar Grant in the back, while he was in a submissive, nearly hog tied position, handcuffed, face down on the ground. One would think that having this despicable act on VIDEO, made available to the worldwide public would help with achieving justice in this case. No. It didn’t.
Mesherle, the man who killed Oscar Grant, was found not guilty. Of course, there was a public outrage, and many people took to Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets to vent. I saw countless irate Facebook posts on my timeline of people raging about the injustice. Same happened on Twitter. Then about a week later: nothing.
Petitions are great. And sometimes they can help in some ways. But only to small degrees.
When it really counts, and people really need to stand up against injustice, instead of ACTING, they take to social media and merely vent. They get all there emotions out on social media sites. They make cool, witty hashtags that start to trend. They express their anger. Then they forget. This is, in large part, because social media has given people a forum to RELEASE their negative emotions so they don’t actually go out and take action. Social media has disempowered us. It has become our collective therapist. People sit on their own couches instead of a psychiatrist’s couch and vent to Dr. Facebook and Dr. Twitter and Dr. YouTube and then feel better and move on with their lives.
After the Michael Dunn trial, many people on social networking sites have agreed that the verdict does not amount to justice for Jordan Davis. The twittosphere is clearly upset and they’ve created the #TheyNeverLovedUs hashtag to express their discontent.
But how far will a hashtag take us? How far does venting on social media get us? If all one does is complain and preach to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook choirs, and stay in front of computers and phone apps speaking out in 124 characters or less instead of going out into the REAL world and demanding justice, how will progress happen.
The civil rights movements that actually worked included real bodies who marched and stood on real ground in front of real courthouses and real buildings and used their real voices – not keypads – to demand change.
People shouldn’t allow Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, some likes, clever hashtags and retweets to pacify them. That’s simply not enough. And if that’s allowed to happen, you’re selling out for such a low low price.
Sometimes venting is necessary. But sometimes NOT venting, and allowing anger, disappointment and frustration to pent up until it comes out in the form of ACTION is much better. Far better than a Twitter rant.
Camille H is a writer, editor, educator, lecturer and public speaker. She can be contacted at [email protected]and followed on Twitter @_CamilleH