Fanning the fuel and exciting the hive – technology and social activism
In today’s society, the influence of social media and its spontaneous updates dominates our lives.
Technology has given individuals tools they can use to affect changes in the way businesses conduct themselves or in even in the products the stores market based simply on their personal opinion.
For many, it is a way to inculcate their views. Once they get a huge number of people on social media sharing their posts, it gets picked up by the mainstream media, and then political leaders react and begin talking it and discussing what they can do to correct it. It is only through this type of social action that they feel they can influence the societal change which reflects their views.
The more prevalence and credits given to their opinions the more clout they think they have, Just this last week a woman walked through Hobby Lobby and saw a display of natural cotton (by the way it was artificially made and not at all real) in some vases and centerpieces. She immediately went onto their web page and left a note about how incensed she was that they would not only carry but display in their store’s something so offensive to her culture because it represented slavery and then additionally posted it on her Facebook page. Since oppression and colonialism ended almost entirely by 1885, it is quite unlikely that she was related to any US slave.
It may come as a significant surprise to many “African-Americans, ” but this whole human-trafficking and slavery did not originate in the US, and fact in 1776, slavery was rampant everywhere on earth. It was an accepted practice since societies became civilized. In fact, according to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, only about 75 percent of white families never owned a single slave.
Over 15 thousand people shared the woman’s post about Hobby Lobby’s decorations, and this post generated more than 169,000 comments. Companies now have little say over how their messages get chewed up through our social feeds.
“Social media is a lever for social justice. It’s a way of leveling the playing field,” remarked Shannon Coulter, the co-founder of Grab Your Wallet.
Used primarily by the liberal and cultural left as a tactic to force their vision of gender and racial equality on everyone they can reach. Responsibility for any damage caused by the campaign to a reputation is not of concern; it is all about getting friends on board with their vision.
With the lack of authority companies feel, it is no wonder that they become combative and jittery as it seems the only attention they get from social media is from ads that ignite social media outrage.
Again, another technology has given us a slanted view of what is important, is Twitter. What gets tweeted and re-tweeted becomes the headlines of the evening news.
Before technological activism took society by storm, any political activism included snail mail advertising, fundraising, and telephone polling. There was no way that you would be able to engage 169,000 people in a matter a few minutes. The entire dynamic of protest has changed with the transmission speed of megabytes of information.
Technology has also changed the dynamic because it has significantly reduced the cost of protesting, no longer do you have to purchase a Mail List, buy stamps, get permits, advertise and organize. Now by just sending out a quick Facebook message or a tweet, you can get the “hive agitated” into action. Technology and social media have entirely changed the nature of combative politics. All reform propagandas, addressing the public predicaments, are all posted within the realms of social media.
Today thanks to this technology, activism can be virtual and never appear in the real world. These electronic campaigns can disrupt business and damage their reputation in a matter of keystrokes.
So because one woman thinks that a fake “natural cotton” centerpieces at a Craft Store are evidence that the company exhibits chauvinism and bigotry, and support slavery, we should boycott the company and stop wearing cotton.
The natural fiber, cotton is used worldwide in the production of clothing, textiles, and has been for the past 7000 years. It is still the most used textile commodity among naturally produced, non-synthetic materials. Today, cotton production is a $25 billion-per-year industry in the United States, employing over 200,000 people in total and none of it by slaves The United States is the world’s top exporter of cotton, and this product makes up forty percent of the entire worlds fiber production.
If we want to rid ourselves of every product ever related to slavery, we will limit our variety of goods. I am sure that this “well-meaning individual who complained about the craft store display did not know that today twenty-seven million people create products that we use daily under the conditions of slavery. In fact, at the website of the US Department of Labor, you can find a list of over 350 items related to forced or slave labor from around the world that many of us use daily.
Again, using technology and social media to get people fired up about the racism she sees in the craft store display, under the guise that it glorified slavery in this country 150 years ago is short-sighted. The hypocrisy is evident when you look at her picture; you can see that she wears a bejeweled cotton top and cotton sneakers and hand-painted beads in her hair all made in countries who not only condone but exploit slave labor.
Technological, social activism that is taking over our news feeds, blogging sites and mainstream media news stories will not have the long-lasting effect they hope because the people pushing the narrative do not have the schema, or even the commitment required to propel further efforts.
Technology has just made it simpler and quicker to “activate the hive,” and get our fifteen minutes of fame that can be used to manipulate others for our social gain rather than to create meaningful change. We are just using technology as an act of self-promotion. We have exploited its uses to condemn, to protests, to degrade and belittle, but not to add more value to our dying humanity.
Technology and social media have made fake activism quick, cheap and easy. But the social media companies are still capitalists who deal in censorship to create the narrative that they want people to see and will benefit the corporation as a whole.
Often the problems it creates can cause otherwise good movements to lose ground, while others can make dubious changes to gain ground.
Another area of concern with internet activism is online mob justice, public shaming, and online witch hunts, where scores of people online will join together with the cause of beating someone down who they see as wrong. Not to mention the many instances of online mobs attack towards somebody who has done nothing wrong, either by misidentification or straight up deceit.
Technology has been a force for good in many situations, but it is a double-edged sword in others. Social media activism is one of those areas for us to pay close attention before it brainwashes empathy and turns it into misanthropy.