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Tue May 10, 2022, 11:25 AM

Do we live in an age of false empowerment?

Having had a week to observe the reaction to the Roe leak, I've seen hundreds to thousands of articles, posts, and op-eds discussing the situation, and maybe 95% of the time, I find myself leaving the piece thinking, "That's all very nice, but what are you going to actually do to change things?"

I've long had a fairly negative opinion of what has come to be known as "slacktivism" in social media spaces. Someone writes a post or changes their profile picture to a flag or banner that addresses the Issue of the Moment. And it seems like there is this illusion of something having been done or accomplished. "I have retweeted this Very Important Half-Thought from Phil in Beaverton. I can do no more for my country."

There was a comedian some years back - I can't remember who - who joked about how people and celebrities were forever "raising awareness." They weren't doing anything. They were just raising awareness. It was a cost-free, no inconvenience necessary way of feeling virtuous, being "one of the good guys" out there making the world a better place with pixels.

With the sea change that the overturning of Roe will bring to this country's women, our laws, and how the government controls our personal choices, I keep looking for solutions of gravity. I think, "Ok, let's see some good ideas. Maybe a general strike. Let's see some action items of impact."

And . . . it's Twitter. "I will not be silenced . . . on Twitter!" I guess some people want to make more hats now? I suppose the increased yarn sales at Hobby Lobby will be darkly ironic.

So in all this cacophony of speaking out and not sitting down and taking it and this total lack of silence, I kept thinking and asking, "Do social media channel voices in such a way that they are rendered inconsequential while allowing the users the illusion of productivity?" Are you empowered, or are you given the illusion of empowerment by being able to direct your voice and energies in a way that will ultimately not change any structures of power and consequence?

Has technology literally put everyone on a hamster wheel without them noticing it? We're speaking out more than we ever have in history, so why does it feel like we never go anywhere with it? No one can say the past ten years have been particularly kind to an America that is more empowered than ever to speak their minds, both individually and collectively. Where is the power behind all those voices? We're very good at Sound and Fury.

So in the hundreds of posts on DU I read in the past week, I saw one by WhiskeyGrinder (sp?). It was a short post about what you can do. It gave advice about assisting local abortion provider networks. No Twitter. No ten dollar donations to national organizations like Planned Parenthood to assuage the conscience. Community level. Women who live near you. People who need money with no overhead. Women who need transporation, an ear, and a support.

The tangible, the concrete, and the unpixelated.

That post got maybe four replies.

Once finals are all done, I'm going to go do that. The unpixelated. I'll know, without a sliver of doubt, that I have "done something" and I'm going to encourage those around me, in person, to help out.

Imagine if people decided, "For every hour I spend on social media talking, I will devote 15 minutes to in-person assistance on this issue." How many lives could be tangibly, concretely changed and helped?

Or are we just really happy with the current illusion? Because maybe, just maybe, real work is something that is hard to be bothered with.

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Reply Do we live in an age of false empowerment? (Original post)
Sympthsical May 10 OP
AZSkiffyGeek May 10 #1
LiberatedUSA May 10 #2
Sympthsical May 10 #4
RobinA May 10 #3

Response to Sympthsical (Original post)

Tue May 10, 2022, 11:40 AM

1. Online petitions and "retweet if you..." viral tweets are my big annoyances

What exactly has Change.org accomplished? What issues have been solved because people went online and gave a company their information for marketing?
And the "retweet if" (mostly from Occupy Democrats) is just earning page views and $$. They're also usually grossly oversimplified and inaccurate.

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Response to Sympthsical (Original post)

Tue May 10, 2022, 11:41 AM

2. The bare minimum.


Last edited Tue May 10, 2022, 12:18 PM - Edit history (1)

While we were making pink hats, they were appointing judges and locking in stealth candidates (Kyrsten Sinema) to activate at just the right time to derail the Democratic agenda.

Between Senators that refuse to go along with the agenda, a lost Supreme Court and legalized gerrymandering due to judges TFG replaced, I think there is a real palpable terror in Washington that this train isnít getting off this track without somehow getting enough blue to vote to overcome gerrymandering and save democracy.

I said in another post that I think it is checkmate. I will still do my part and vote, but I feel like we are all going through the motions of watching an accident that is happening and will continue to happen until we see an autocracy.

If we canít win in 2022 and 2024, it is over.
Maybe doing the bare minimum all these years is what got us here. Certainly Citizenís United got the ball rolling.

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Response to LiberatedUSA (Reply #2)

Tue May 10, 2022, 12:10 PM

4. As we talked, they accumulated power

It's been a thought in the back of my mind for some time now. One of the things I've always felt was incredibly alarming and completely underplayed by our side was when nearly 1,000 state seats were lost during President Obama's tenure. I started clanging those bells back then in the spaces I was in, and no one really seemed to care. "We're awesome, stop being concerned." (Man, do I hate "Thanks for your concern!" and then we lose and it's still somehow your fault for warning people).

It felt like we payed a lot of attention to the "celebrity" of President, governors, senators, but didn't really care or worry about the political undertow of Republican gains across many different states in lower level offices. And honestly, it didn't seem like the media cared very much either. I wonder if that's because so much of our media is concentrated in that NY/DC/LA triangle, where conservative state legislatures aren't really a thing they think about, so not as much attention was paid.

The past twenty odd years, which is my entire adulthood, has felt like watching Republicans accumulate power on background while we worried about the races on the main stage. And now, it feels like their moment is coming. They managed to grab all this power, and now they feel they're in a position to truly wield it.

I feel like our activism of inactivity has gotten us here.

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Response to Sympthsical (Original post)

Tue May 10, 2022, 12:03 PM

3. The Only Thing

to do is to vote. Maybe give money for get out the vote and educational stuff. It all comes down to that.

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