Sunday, May 21, 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Significance of a Slow Dance

"I'm dreaming of a slow wine heavy on the bass with your hands around my waist. You can cup my behind as long as I can lay my head on your shoulders. When I inhale, the butterflies in my stomach make it hard to catch my breath because you smell so good. And when my knees get weak, you hold me and rock steady to the beat until I'm no longer conscious and our bodies become one."

Where they still do that at? Do people even dance like that anymore? The relationship I dream of is heavy on the music and a big part of that is a slow dance. Why don't folks slow dance anymore?! It's preposterous. Can I get a slow dance before you try to stick your tongue in my mouth?!

The only man that ever slow danced with me was a poet. He wooed me with his spontaneous prose lauding everything from my curves to my heart. He was smart. He quickly learned the way to my heart: Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and meaningful conversation. I found myself ignoring big red flags and getting lost in his words. Yeah. He used to slow dance with me. I'm about to be 31. I deserve a man who can and will rock nice and steady to a one drop beat or a soulful ballad. It's not that difficult. Come on guys!

"Slow Dance" by John Legend

Social Media Activism: What is it good for?

Social media activism refers to the practice of being extremely vocal and active about social issues on websites like Facebook and Twitter but doing nothing "concrete" about the actual problems. Social media activists are those of us who sit on our asses and share articles, argue in the comments sections and even try to shame others for what they did or did not post about a topic we feel is important but limit our involvement to the World Wide Web. There is no question that there is a lot of this going on these days and it can be sickening.

In the wake of the Paris Attacks in November 2015, there was a lot of talk about whose lives matter, the information we are fed by the media and what we care about as a result. The whole discussion exhausted the hell out of me. Of course, I had opinions about it, I always do. But I choose not to share them as often on social media because I don't want to deal with the time-consuming fray from my online community and their diverse opinions and backgrounds (that's a whole other discussion).

Regardless of what I think about how tragedy and loss are reported, the fact remains that there is an overwhelming amount of violence and hatred in the world right now. I'm sure most people would agree that this is not ideal. I'm a solution-oriented person above all. So the idea that we are all sitting on our asses arguing whose lives matter while the world goes up in flames is extremely disconcerting to me.

BUT

I don't believe denouncing social media activism is necessarily the way to go and here's why...

Something is better than nothing.

How many of the people who are sharing and spreading information on social media would actually go out and do something about it if there were no Facebook?  In other words, before social media became so pervasive and people didn't have access to it as a means of spreading information and ideas, were social media activists out in the streets getting results? I doubt it. It's more likely that they were not involved at all.

Yes, this is a new generation so many of them don't know the world without Facebook activism and it can, therefore, be argued that they could be learning social media activism as if it is a viable form of change. That is dangerous. But overall, I think that the number of people who are more likely to talk about shit and do nothing has not necessarily grown just because they've been given a platform on the internet and, if it has grown, it is not significant.

Think about it. 15 years ago, social media activists were the people who were reading the newspaper and arguing with their coworkers about politics. Or they were the ones who watched CNN 24/7 while on the phone with their relatives in other states arguing about the news (my stepfather still does this). The people who are most likely to talk about shit and not do anything are always going to be around.

As such, the people who are more apt to do things will always have that drive. Social media activists won't change that. If anything, social media gives voice to the people who may not have been heard before because they were just talking to friends and family instead of the World Wide Web. They serve a purpose. They create a buzz around topics. They give us greater insight into what the world is thinking about. The conversations that they create are, at times, invaluable. Even the worst kind, where people spew hatred and ignorance, give us insight into how much work we have to do.

I venture to state that all of the people on the internet that we are tired of hearing from have always existed:

  • self-righteous black folk
  • self-righteous christian folk
  • ignorant-ass white supremacists
  • misogynists
  • liberal-ass, guilty white people who think they know everybody's struggle
  • Clueless-ass white people who don't know and don't care about anybody's struggles
  • and the list goes on and on

The difference is just that we are hearing more voices now. These people have computers and smartphones and tablets etc. They have a stage. They have an open mic. They have a soapbox. When you sign into Facebook, what does it ask you?

"What's on your mind?"

You think that is coincidental? You think those fuckers really care about you? You think Mark Zuckerberg is trying to be your therapist? Hell to the naw! Facebook is set up as a big worldwide discussion. It's pretty ingenious actually. Over the years, Facebook has redesigned itself to go from a shallow social network where you could cyber stalk your ex or that bitch from high school that used to act like her shit didn't stink to a real-time worldwide roundtable discussion about whatever issues people deem significant. Look at all the things that they have put in place to facilitate these discussions.

Do you honestly think that this hasn't been engineered? Look at every online article. It gives you the opportunity to share via Facebook et al. I don't have to go searching for news anymore. Facebook is my primary source of information. You know how I found out about the Paris attacks? "Facebook Safety Check" told me that two of my friends (whom I didn't even know were in Paris) were safe. Naturally, I was like, "safe from what?" and I quickly found out what had happened.

Facebook has totally changed the way we learn about, comment on and react to the world around us. We can sit and argue about how that has affected our action or inaction but I think it's shortsighted and silly to blame social networks for the apathy that has existed among human beings since the beginning of time. Let's focus on how we can use the tools of social media to be better activists. After all, the word "activism," by definition, consists of action.

And while sharing, encouraging and denouncing things via Facebook is a sort of activism as it can help educate and arouse the population to make change, we all know that it takes more than discussion to truly address the problems we face. Therefore, how do we make the next step from social media activism to actual activism? How do we transtition to physical action? Let's talk about it on Facebook, where I'll share this blogpost. See how I did that?