In today’s world where everyone (and their dog) has an opinion about everything that is backed by “facts”, is it really productive to have meaningful conversations on social media? Especially conversations regarding social justice? This is a question that was posed to us last class. We were asked to reflect on whether or not online social activism can be meaningful and worthwhile? Or whether or not it is possible to have productive conversations about social justice online?
As I have talked about in some of my previous posts, I often think of my life as “separate” from my social media life. As this article states, I know that my “real life” and “online life” are connected and that everything that happens in my real life fuels my online life. However, I don’t think everything that happens in my private life needs to be shown online. In teaching pre-school and living in a small conservative town, I choose to leave many things offline as I don’t think everyone needs to see or have an opinion on my every move.
Now that brings me to the topic of this week. Is it possible to have productive conversations about social justice online? I am going to say that if you are only friends with like-minded liberal people, then sure, otherwise no. Research shows that people hide behind screens and often say things that would not have the courage to say in real life. I think that goes the other way also that people get so hard-headed that they only see one view, especially online, as they don’t have to actually listen to the other person’s point of view, they can just scroll through it and post their argument again.
That is why I think it would only be possible if like -minded or relatively liberal people are the ones commenting. In my small town, with very conservative minded people, I think speaking about social justice and having a positive debate online would likely never happen. In this article, Katia Hildebrant, my professor states ” I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act”. Maybe that is true, I think we do need to use our privilege to speak for those with less or none but if you know you are going into a losing battle, do you do so anyways? Are there not other ways to show that these issues are important, such as volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, or Me to We?
This is just one person’s opinion, after all. I do think if you are speaking with the right people, these conversations would absolutely be possible but for a small conservative Saskatchewan town, I don’t they are very likely.