(Sorry, this is all over the place and I guess that is kind of where I am at regarding my own activism…enjoy)
In no way will I pretend to be a trumpeting advocate for social justice. There are social issues I follow, that I care about, that I want to care about and that I should care about… but I never get to involved or to invested. Why? Time, finances, lack of knowledge are some of the excuses that I would use. At the end of the day they are excuses and people need to feel comfortable about passionately standing up for social issues because without the dedicated people involved these injustices will continue to slip through the cracks.
What injustices you ask? Without even using the internet, open up a local paper and see what is going on in your community. I think that one of the problems is that people become so focussed and overwhelmed with the exposure to all the awful things that are happening around the world that we forget what is happening at home. Poverty, homelessness, addiction, status of recent refugees that just moved to Regina. All of these issues lack momentum because there is so much out there via the internet/social media that winds up eclipsing issues that are occurring in our own communities. In a way there becomes a numbness to the issues. I am not saying that this is all bad, but I think that the overwhelming exposure that people receive on these issues almost push people away from being a part of something that they are on the fence about being involved in. The shift that needs to occur is the connection between awareness and action.
So what role can the internet play to redirect slacktivism to activism? When I open up Facebook/Twitter and see all of these socially active posts, but often times the personal connection does not go deeper than just taking a glance feeling a little shame that you are not directly experiencing something and then moving on to the next post of a person losing her marbles over a mcrib and bad service at a McDonalds. (video has some bad words but its off the charts hilarious)
The worst connection that I see comes from the notion of sites like gofundme.com. I see the value that can come from financial hardships that people experience and it is a good way to get the word out if people need help, but helping pay for a couples honeymoon through internet donations is a mind boggling scenario. And I think that these situations often turn people off from actually using the internet to help out because of the disconnect that comes from seeing Jack and Jill not being able to afford food for their wedding.
I see hope in the dedicated people that are using the internet as a forum to get people thinking and in many cases acting. I guess if one person sees a twitter link that motivates them to get involved then it has served a purpose. I think what the challenge will be as teachers is to make it personal regardless if we feel the same compassion about a subject as our students. I know that because of my aloof approach to social justice that I am not role modelling the importance of issues from local to global. Students buy in when teachers are invested. If we are not invested and not inserting passion and value into activism then the issues that are being ignored continue to slip through the cracks…