Social media activism – a critique of my voice in online spaces

Social media activism – a critique of my voice in online spaces

This week’s class focused on social media activism and we were given several opportunities to consider and voice our opinions on the topic. My initial thoughts going into the presentation were: I do not share much of anything online. I am much more of a consumer than a producer of social media content. Must I go out of my comfort zone to start promoting social justice in online spaces?

Do I believe in fighting for social justice and equity? Of course. Do the things I say and do reflect this? I’d like to think so. But the question remains…is it enough to be passively involved in striving for social justice, or should I be doing more?

photo by GoldenViolinist on Pixabay

The first reading I chose to peruse as I pondered this topic is Katia’s blog post as the title part “silence speaks as loudly as words” caught my attention. “Silent” is essentially me online, so I figured it was worth a closer look. I appreciate her reminder of the role that privilege plays in justifying an individual’s responsibility to speak up in online spaces. Do I have a voice? Do I have the ability to network and let my voice be heard by many others? Does my position in society give my voice and opinion value and the power to influence change? This was an important post for me to read; it reminded me that I am privileged in many ways and I do believe in my responsibility to use it for something good.

Next, I did a little research of my own and found this article titled “Online activism isn’t just slacktivism” by Carolyn Ali at UBC. I clicked on this one because at one point or another I have definitely felt like most online activism is just slacktivism! Reading through this article, I found a lot of points that paired well with some of Katia’s thoughts and examples in her presentation, such as how slacktivism can actually be a gateway into activism, and that if people are intending to do good by changing their profile picture and sharing articles, motivations and attitudes are in the right place.

photo by WebTechExperts on Pixabay

I can safely say that in a relatively short period of time, my mind has changed on social media activism. I no longer think of it as a “cop out” and am definitely more motivated to use my platform to stand up for the things I believe in. However, as with so many things in life, this is easier said than done.

Another point that was brought up in class this week was the impact of a teacher’s actions and behaviours on their students. Again, this is something I’ve always believed, but for some reason I have never extended it to my presence and identity online. It’s one thing to tell students what is important, but it is significantly more powerful and impactful to show it through actions and modelled behaviours. I can think of plenty of other ways I model my values and beliefs to my students, so when I really think about it, I’m not sure why I would think modelling proper, meaningful use of my privilege in online spaces unnecessary or optional. I think it was also brought up in class that what we don’t teach tells our students a lot about what we value, and in extension, what we don’t say, online or offline.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I don’t say much online. Even offline, I often take the role of listener, sitting back and taking it all in. I think there can be a lot of value in this as other people and personalities like to talk. And talk. And talk…and it can get pretty noisy. I think about my own staff and previous staffs I’ve been a part of and how important it is to strike that balance of personalities and strengths in fostering a strong and successful network of colleagues. HOWever, when it comes to issues of justice, equity, and doing what we can to point out things that are not right in society, maybe there’s no such thing as too loud.

This week’s focus on social media activism has me reflecting on what I might consider speaking up about in online (and offline) spaces and wanting to challenge myself to voice what I care about, even if it is uncomfortable or difficult for me.

Pop Tv GIF By Schitt’s Creek

3 thoughts on “Social media activism – a critique of my voice in online spaces

  1. I had a lot of the same thoughts as you Christina. There has been a lot of online activism in my community’s school divisions in the last 3 years and, after this week’s class, I wonder how my urge to retreat from participating may be more of a ‘cop-out’ than actually sharing a profile picture to show my support. Being that I’m joining the largest school in my division next year I’m reflecting on how I want to approach my activism and how I could/should bring it to the classroom. Perhaps weekly news discussions, inquiry topics, or just morning circle talk topics. Definitely some great thinking points. Have you thought of any ideas on how you may incorporate it into your classes?

  2. Thanks for your post Christina. I appreciate your honest words. I like how you posted Katia’s blog, as I read that one as well. It really made me evaluate what my silence on social media is saying to my followers. I guess it is time for me to re-evaluate how I view social media and learn how use it as an extra voice to promote awareness to causes.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Christina! I liked your commentary on slacktivism. I feel like many of us ‘consumers rather than producers’ are comfortable in neutrality to avoid the stigma of slacktivism even though, as you mention, is a gateway to activism. I think also that as our lives get busier (with kids, coaching, marking/prepping, etc.), it isn’t always easy to be physically involved in activism, but promoting it via social media is still helpful; I felt this way this semester when I couldn’t attend the teacher rally at the Leg or this weekend’s pride parade because of my Saturday class. Thanks again for sharing and I love the Moira gif (she’s the best) 🙂

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