God bless social media. It has connected us in ways that were only mere musings in sci-fi novels and movies. We can get on a soapbox share our interests, thoughts and opinions at a moment’s notice…with the entire world. In my observation, this can be a gift and a curse. Why? Because internet activists.
It’s no secret that we are in a racially-charged climate where there is a clear line in the sand between one side of the racial divide and the other. You know who makes it worse? Internet activists. These are truly some of the worst people online. You’ll notice I did not refer to them as Social Justice Advocates or Leaders in the Movement. You guys are all rock stars to me.
Internet Activists: Social Media users that are constantly engaged in internet gangsta antics, trolling people’s status posts, posting and re-sharing things just to appear involved and constantly jumping into threads with misinformed opinions. What’s worse than that is that these are the people who are online all day long, but don’t actually get involved, nor do they vote. It’s more of an attention-seeking behavior, if that makes sense.
Don’t be that person. If you find yourself being that person, get your shit together it’s not too late to change for the better. Here’s 5 ways to be an involved, well-rounded citizen and NOT be an Internet Activist.
Five Ways to NOT be an Internet Activist
1. LOG OFF
Since Ferguson, it seems there is a new event taking place between police officers and unarmed persons of color almost every week. Regardless of the side of the coin you’re on, there’s constant hashtags, violent footage, accusations, grieving families, hate speech, etc. flooding your timelines. It can be draining. You may experience fatigue and trouble suppressing visceral and often emotionally-charged responses to these things. We’re human. That’s why it is important to take time OFFLINE to process your emotions and remember to enjoy your life that exists outside of social media. Have a good cry. Call your grandmother. Have some wine. Do your homework. Pay some speeding tickets.
2. Get involved in your own local government and community.
A trend that I see in the Internet Activist community is the ability to be so vocal about what’s happening in other community or be SOOOOO outraged by verdicts and such but that person normally has NO CLUE about their own local political climate. When is the last time you voted? Who are your local elected officials?
Not even being funny nor judgmental, we have to be fully informed and active OFFLINE to effect actual change in the world. And it all starts at home. For example, if you are concerned about black on black crime, what are you doing to help the youth? Perhaps you could volunteer with an organization that places focus on keeping troubled youth off of the streets and engaged in something positive. That’s just one example, there’s so much to be done.
4. Take Your Sensitive Shirt Off
Everything does not require a response. As a general rule of thumb, if I disagree with something that a facebook friend posts on THEIR OWN PAGE, I don’t chime in. It is everyone’s right to post whatever they wish on their page. Even if it is wrong, offensive, etc. It does not give any of us the right to go on some sort of rant, leaving a dissertation of “Strongly Disagree” on their page. You look like a cry baby and the internet will turn on you.
Remember, there is peace in knowing everything does not require a response. Just observe and move forward…or see Item #1.
4. PLEASE Know What You’re Talking About.
In this real-time information, immediate meme creation culture, we have to be SURE that we vet our information. We cannot afford to pass bad information all up and down our timelines. Keep these two things in mind before accepting or sharing information about these events as they take place:
a. People will sensationalize stories just because they can.
b. People are judging you when you post false stories. Everyone gets one pass, but if the behavior continues, your judgment may come into question and you could lose credibility with your friends. I’m not wishing you a facebook happy birthday if you post fake stories about Tupac prophesying about Sandra Bland’s death in a song released last week. Stop.
Long story short, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS verify news stories and ensure they are not satire or complete fiction like MediaTakeout. Add this link to your favorites to verify news sites.