Activism, social media and you

Okay, so here’s a thing that’s been bugging me lately.
It would seem today’s boredom and easy access to social media has combined to form a new generation of activists. I don’t know if there’s a term for this yet (someone has probably already made a far better observation than me), so let’s call them “couch activists”. That’s where the bulk of their activism stems from anyway, reading the internet, then redistributing through the internet. With a phone and an internet connection, you can appropriate all the information in the world; simplify it, mold it and interpret it, and then share it with all your friends. (We’re living in the future, y’all!)
Still, that doesn’t always mean you should!

Sharing the love

I remember a time when all the rage was posting what you had for dinner, or that you were off to work in a minute. A few cocky bastards actually had the audacity to brag about how they were headed to the gym, but we ignored those quick enough, didn’t we?
As a side note: I know people still do this, only now we have Instagram instead; so you can actually see the delicious food, catch a video of their latest mundane exploits and observe the sexy, sweaty results of the last workout session. (I’m sorry, most gym pictures I see on Instagram are of incredibly fit, half-naked women.) We’ve kind of gone full circle on this, haven’t we? We’re back to square one, only with better methods of display, and fewer clicks to watch.
With Instagram carrying the brunt of dinner-photos and body-shots, Facebook and Twitter have become arenas for more serious topics. (Did I really just write that?) The serious topics are at least more visible, as they’re not being drowned by all the other stuff.
I have the usual mix of friends on Facebook, I think. Some of them are very politically engaged, over half are animal-lovers and some are environmentalists. Most of them aren’t extreme in any way, and therefore fall straight into the couch activist description mentioned above. This means they won’t attack me (or anyone else) in any way, and that they won’t be seen on the news, chaining themselves to a tree or a dog. (A lot of them have dogs chained to themselves though, but I suppose that’s fairly normal.)
What these friends will do, however, is share stuff posted by others. They will share political commentary, campaigns, advertisements and all out propaganda. Some of this include grotesque pictures of dead animals, often stating this is what happens if you wear fur! And I always feel good about myself then, because I never wear fur! But that’s not enough! According to some, you need to take a stand; or you’re no better! Okay then; should I also feel ashamed because I’m eating chicken, which a large portion of people seem to condemn? Because if a human baby had the same growth rate as an industrial chicken, it would weigh over 200 pounds in less than a month. (That’s an actual quote.) Well, at least these chickens aren’t exposed to the same level of self-loathing and body-issues as an average human, right? 

The other day, a campaign shared by several of my friends told me that, we’re sorry, but you can’t use Head and Shoulders anymore, as it contains palm oil, thereby destroying the rain forest. (Again, actual quote.) So, if I keep using this shampoo, I’m a monster who’s directly responsible for messing up the rain forest? I will be the cause of those burned-to-death monkeys my friends keep sharing pictures of? According to the campaign, it wasn’t even a question – sorry, you can’t – Because knowing what I know now, who’d want to wash their head with that shit, right?

Well maybe I still do! Did you think of that? And now I suddenly can’t because that makes me an asshole? (And don’t even get me started with the coffee… That’s a goddamn line I will not allow you to cross!)


Middle ground

I understand that for someone looking to raise awareness, pictures of dead animals and big, bold letters does the trick. But for someone having their breakfast or their first cup of coffee at work, it can be a real slap in the face. And not the good, holy shit, I need to do something about this, kind. I’m talking about the, that’s it, you’re done – unsubscribe, unfriend, burn computer, kind. I’m not trying to be an ass about this, I’m really not. But when you’re spreading those things with so much conviction and so much bile, everyone but you becomes the monster. And, in all fairness, what have you done lately? What makes you so much better than me? Because while raising awareness is a good thing, guilting and provoking people isn’t.

I’ve tried having this discussion with friends before, and a recurring argument on their part is that I can simply stop reading my news feed, or unfriend if I find people offensive. Really? Is that the only solution? Facebook describes itself as a place to connect with friends and stay in touch with people. Should I really expect having pictures of dead animals shoved in my face by my friends? If someone did that to you in your house or at your workplace, wouldn’t you defend yourself and come to some kind of agreement instead of just ignoring them? I know I would, and that’s what I’m doing now. There’s no middle ground with this propaganda, it’s a one-sided message saying stop doing this, or you’re scum! I’m all for petitions and awareness; together we can do a whole lot. Just don’t turn me into an asshole for not becoming a couch activist like you. Sharing a picture of a dead fox with a morbid statement doesn’t make you better than me.

Sincerely – Bishop 
(I also wrote a book)
(And a few short stories)

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