Throughout the past few weeks I have noticed many people posting comments about Trayvon Martin on Facebook. Their comments range from different news articles, pictures of a boy holding skittles and their own personal opinions filled with anger at the injustice of the situation. Whereas I am glad to see that these individuals are clearly outraged by what happened, I also know that these postings are their only efforts to speak out against this problem. Many of the postings I have seen were from students here and the number of postings I saw that demonstrated disagreement did not match the number of people who attended the talk about the Trayvon Martin case at the Multicultural center the other week, as I did not see any of my peers who were posting these things in attendance.
This is where I become frustrated. I think it is great that individuals are posting things at all but I feel as though these posts are their only efforts to speak out against the injustice rooted in society that has clearly been demonstrated by the case of Trayvon Martin. I think it is extremely easy for people to put a comment up on Facebook about their outrage associated with this example of inequality and to feel as though they have “done their job”. They have fulfilled their duty of publicly saying it was wrong and therefore do not feel the need to do anything else. How do we get these individuals in society to take the next step and actually take action against the injustices of society? The misconception of thinking that merely posting something on Facebook is enough to combat the issue at hand happens so frequently today. I think that Facebook and other forms of social networking are great tools to heighten awareness about certain issues in society but are not enough to actively combat these issues at hand. What you guys think, how do we capitalize on the ability of social networking to raise awareness but get people to move a step further and take action?
5 thoughts on “Taking The Next Step”
I can empathize with you; as nice as it is to see others vocalizing their support on Facebook, it’s hard feeling like your voice is your only means of protest. It’s even more frustrating to feel like the larger opposition is muffling your voice. After attending that talk in the multicultural center, I too was frustrated. It was nice to feel that there were others who felt similarly and that I wasn’t alone. However, the problem was that while the outlet was nice, these individuals clearly didn’t need to be told that this was a racialized incident; it was the people that weren’t there. This is another example of privilege; the people that most need to listen to the talk have the ability to ignore this perspective.
While I know that feeling of hopelessness, I think I would focus on the ways that your voice can be effective. Signing a petition against the injustices can be effective, but what’s more important is spreading your voice to the people that don’t come to the meetings. I posted about my anger in my sorority group, which raised not only awareness, but also a dialogue. I also tried to relate this to various aspects in class—linking the similarities to other injustices we discussed in class in different disciplines. Despite having some pushback, I think trying to get people listen that often choose not to is so important.
This post and Alexis’s response got me thinking to my interpersonal communications class. We learned that social media has become a new way for people to communicate with others rather than in communicating in person. However, when people use social media they feel that they can say things that they would not necessarily say in person because they can hide behind their computers. Social media allows people to get their message across to more people but also keeps people from having to express their true emotions to people. People feel that they can comment on the Trayvon Martin case via Facebook because they are hiding behind their computers or smartphones. What they are communicating behind the screen does not have to translate to a face to face conversation.
This is an interesting problem. I actually just completed a large project on the effects of Facebook on grieving practices. One interesting aspect of the Facebook profile is that it is becoming more and more directly linked with “the self.” That is to say, the line between digital life and real life is becoming more and more blurred. Because of this, what people do on Facebook feels almost the same as what they do in person.
So all these Facebook statuses, while they may not do much to solve the problem (they actually may help at least to spread the awareness of the injustices), may actually seem like enough, as Facebook life and real life are beginning to feel less and less different.
I definitely think it is easier to be someone on Facebook that you aren’t capable or willing to be in person for different reasons. First of all, like you said, we are able to edit what we post on Facebook such that if we think we have said the wrong thing it can easily be retracted by being taken down. Also, I think it is so easy for people to say things that they would not normally say in person when they are hiding behind a computer screen. There is where my frustration grows because if individuals choose to post various opinions rooting for equality and such, then follow it up with your actions and stop hiding behind the computer. It is how we get people to do this that continues to baffle me because I think that society today is very much technology oriented, thus hiding behind a screen becomes much more easier. What do you think? How do we make this happen?
I find it interesting that while people will post things on facebook they are hesitant to discuss them in person. Additionally, often times when people are posting on Facebook it can open the door for some meaningful dialogue or it can open the door for argumentation when conflicting opinons run rampant. It facinates me how social networking sites can keep us all “connectedly disconnected” from reality. Utilizing it to raise awareness can be a useful tool (look at Kony 2012 movement) but it still leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to actual action (as was your example from above).
People can be who they want to be or who they are pretending to be when they are online but when it comes to public aknowledgement of those “beliefs” it’s a bit overwhelming for them. Especially for Whites who wish to maintain their status in an ingroup; if they are seen as different then they fear they will no longer be accepted and that potential network loss is too overwhelming to face so they do nothing to make tangible change. Do you think that because Facebook postings audiences being able to be edited makes it easier to be someone on Facebook that you are not capable (or willing) to be in person?
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