Not at all, you say. You are in control of your destiny. You make active choices; you’ve planned your career; you are able to choose which kind of sandwich you have for lunch.
But maybe we’re all more passive than we think. Day after day, we mindlessly inhale data and advertisements and information and trivia and images without even thinking about it. We drift through Twitter feeds, not really learning or paying attention to anything. We voyeuristically watch people’s lives go by on Facebook; their achievements, and their pictures, but a lot of the time, we do not comment, we just look. And that’s all we can do, because there’s such an information overload.
So of course, we might learn to look at things and see them as ‘not my problem’. And this attitude can bleed into the wider world and how we do things in real life, often leading to passive tolerance of discrimination, and to people watching the news and enjoying the consumption of ‘disaster porn’ where, numb to the problems of others, we simply use each awful news item as a topic of conversation, and something to tut and shake our heads over, before going to make dinner and then forgetting about it. We’re all for rallying around an online cause, but we don’t want to rock the social boat or protest in real life.
A lot of us are happy to watch a video on Upworthy and sign an e-petition. But you know what we are NOT willing to do?
- Change our habits or way of life
- Get off our arses and change things in a physical sense which doesn’t involve being sat down and glued to a screen
- Admit we are complicit in any of the world’s problems
So, we’re all a bit more passive than you thought, right? Ask yourself this: do you research your rights? Do you express your own real opinions, or just the ones that everyone else is repeating? Is everything you do done consciously, and for a reason?
There are different levels of social involvement. Maybe social media helps with the awareness part. But what about the steps in-between which bring people to action? How can awareness or interest in a social issue be turned into action? I want to believe that it can create real change…
My uni’s student paper published an article on online activism that you may want to read…what do you think?