The last few years have been hard for many of us — a horribly disempowering experience. We are barraged with information about crisis and injustice all around, but we have so little power to do anything about these things.
I think folks who are aware of this dynamic and bothered by it, have tended to respond in one of a few ways:
1. Being ok with doing a little bit of good – By this I mean having faith that doing little bits of efforts on chosen areas of concern will lead to good, but letting oneself off of the hook of worrying about everything all at once — and hopefully looking for opportunities to work with others to multiply our individual tiny efforts. When I think of option #1, my best example of this kind of energy is that of the late Sadie Mast.
2. Apathy which might in time lead to distraction, vices, etc, as the experience of injustice grows too large to ignore.
3. Frantic sharing of content on social media, hoping that some good might come from it.
I have at times taken all three of these posts. I believe that option #1 is the only sane and sustainable option, but this takes a lot more faith in humanity and in the universe than I can sometimes muster. Option #2 doesn’t work for very long for me, often not even for the length of a week-long vacation. So, I, unfortunately I have fallen into the trap of option #3.
Option #3 provides a false sense of accomplishment. It makes one feel that they are doing good in the world. Sometimes I do think the awareness brought by sharing quality content on social media does some good, but most of the time I think it is a trap, particularly given the way that the social media algorithms seem to more and more create an echo chamber. The person posting on social media gets the positive affirmation of likes and shares, but more and more, those likes and shares are from folks who either: (1) already agree with us, or (2) enjoy arguing and/or trolling.
I also am concerned about other issues. Posting on social media puts the social media companies in control of our discourse. Content is viewable based mostly on the whims of the social media companies (and what algorithm they are using today) and can be yanked down for almost any reason that the social media company deems appropriate. I have been fairly lucky myself (to date never banned or suspended from the major social media platforms) but other comrades in the struggle for justice have not been so lucky, often while watching true neo-fascists post to their heart’s content. I’m not happy with that, and even more unhappy with the fact that the user-created content is what enables facebook, twitter and the rest to sell ads (without content curators and creators getting compensated).
Moreover, the problem with social media is that it makes it too easy to share other people’s content (maybe with a snarky comment), rather than creating one’s own content.
And finally, I think option #3 really becomes a kind of option #2, in that sharing content ends up replacing action (or at least fueling procrastination), and even creating the false self-centered delusion that the world really needs to hear all of my takes on current events, or that if I don’t share a particular story, that it will not be heard. This is hubris and arrogance.
I have friends and loved ones who have walked away from social media and seem to be happier for the experience, but I don’t want to do that myself. Mostly this is for the sake of having social connection —- due to my health issues and my wife’s occupation as a physician, we still are practicing higher covid-precautions than most in Oklahoma), but also because there are times that I think that the thoughtful use of social media outreach can do some good. But I have resolved to post much less content to social media, and instead share more right here on my own blog. Some of the new content will hopefully be truly new content (my own writing, pictures, etc.) but I hope that when I write about other people’s content on this blog, I will be able to actually contribute something worthwhile back in response.
Ironically though… I don’t have many readers here anymore, so I will have to use social media to promote these posts. So I will be cross-posting on my accounts Twitter and Facebook, unfortunately. I hope in the future this won’t be necessary.
Thanks for reading. — Also if you have comments on what I’m saying here, the best way to respond back is either to email me (look for the contact link on this site) or to post a comment on my social media pages — or better yet, write your own blog post!