What good is a social media protest if nothing is accomplished?
Some of you that are avid users of Twitter may have heard about the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest on the 13th (I know, I’m late), and some of you may have even partaken in the protest. Or you may not have heard of it at all, which makes sense as well. As a quick debriefing, it’s a protest to promote the voices of women who have experienced sexual harassment and assault, after a famous actress was banned from the site for 12 hours due to her disclosing information on her harassment from a movie producer. Women were asked to stay off of the platform for 24 hours to get their point across. While the reasoning for the protest was justified, there are a variety of reasons why we shouldn’t turn to social media for social justice.
One thing that makes a protest most effective are the numbers. The more people that are participating, the more people are willing to listen. Simple. But asking for a protest of such a large magnitude (asking ALL women to not go on Twitter), there’s virtually no way to get such a high amount of participation for the protest to be deemed successful. In fact, a considerable amount of women had heavy interactions on the platform that day, as a protest to the protest. Wild, I know.
These dissenters have stated that women of color, and even women that aren’t famous, have always endured such things on the media site, and no one decided to take a stand for them. So there is a sense of discrimination involved in this movement that left a bad taste in certain people’s mouths, and rightfully so.
With this, there is also something detached about social media. Seeing a nice, human face attached to a statement is much more powerful, and makes it easier to conceptualize the reasoning behind the movement because there is a humane aspect involved. People can easily turn off the app, but they can’t turn off someone’s true voice.
So sure, a few people may be able to note when a few of their girl friends aren’t active that day, but that notice would quickly dissipate once they see nothing else of it on their timeline, or when they see that their other female friend is logged on, or even when that person logs off themselves.
Relevance & Approach
The main issue that prompted the protest was the banning of Rose McGowan (the said famous actress) from Twitter for 12 hours after she called out Harvey Weinstein (the said famous producer) for sexual harassment. So the solution to women being silenced is to…silence themselves? This sounds counterproductive in all senses of the word. And only for a mere 24 hours? Most people sleep through a third of that. To use such a pressing issue, and propose such a small, easy task as a “combatant”…
It reduces the impact in scale, and makes it seem like a much more trivial matter than it really is.
So what exactly are people’s intentions when they decide to not engage on a platform for a day, or when they employ catchy hashtags? To raise awareness for an issue that they would like to be discussed. Sure. But often times, there is an element of hypocrisy involved in such actions…
How many people that have made a post with #BlackLivesMatter have actually been to a real-life BLM protest? How many people did anything further than typing out #BringBackOurGirls in 2014? While social media is a growing platform for raising awareness of different issues, it fosters a diffusion of responsibility. People write these hashtags so that someone else can do something, instead of taking it upon themselves.
So you may think this article is just condemning a growing form of activism that solicits social justice, but that is simply not the case. I am condemning those people that do this, but do not take it further. That do this, and do not include others in this vision that they wish to achieve. Do not just stay plastered behind a screen, go out and do something. Proudly show your face to your oppressors and let it be known that you want this right, and that you will have it. It’s so easy to type a few characters, but to actually mobilize is a sign of somebody who truly shares the sentiment that they preach.
Now, as I feel like we as a society have lost a sense of what true activism really is, here is a short list of brazen luminaries that took much more potent approaches to combating their oppressors 🙂
Sojourner Truth and her infamous “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech
What she fought for: African American civil rights
“[Intellect] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro’s rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure-full?” – Sojourner Truth
14th Dalai Lama and his Five-Point Peace Plan Proposal
What he fought for: liberation of Tibet and its people
“It is my sincere desire, as well as that of the Tibetan people, to restore to Tibet her invaluable role, by converting the entire country – comprising the three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo – once more into a place of stability, peace and harmony.” – 14th Dalai Lama
Malala Yousafzai and her book I Am Malala
What she fought for: women’s rights to education
“How can we do that? You were the one who said that if we believe in something greater than our lives, then our voices will only multiply ever if we are dead. We can’t disown our campaign!” – Malala Yousafzai, as a response to her father who proposed they stop their human rights campaigns
Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have A Dream” speech
What he fought for: African American civil rights
“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Nelson Mandela and his “Black Man In A White Man’s Court” speech
What he fought for: civil rights of black South Africans
“Why is it that no African in the history of this country has ever had the honour of being tried by his own kith and kin, by his own flesh and blood?
I will tell Your Worship why: the real purpose of this rigid colour-bar is to ensure that the justice dispensed by the courts should conform to the policy of the country, however much that policy might be in conflict with the norms of justice accepted in judiciaries throughout the civilised world.” – Nelson Mandela
What do you think of the protest and of other social media protests? Do you think they’ve worked?
Source of featured image: https://camdencivilrightsproject.com/2015/10/15/social-media-as-a-tool-for-protest/