Friday, December 15, 2023

Social Media Activism: Politics in Bookspaces Online


Sorry no folklore Friday. Just a little chat about why I run my online spaces in the manner that I do! 

I don't really talk about politics or current events online. I try not to get into political arguments, and I don't really just outright share my opinion on things. Occasionally I will share a passing thought when I think the conversation can be just a conversation and not a debate. I almost always regret it because there is always one person who attacks or makes it personal or otherwise cannot behave like an adult.  

I wasn't always like this online. 

I used to argue with the best of them and share my political opinions. I used to share every belief I have and fight for them. I used to try to get people to share my opinions and beliefs and stand up with me for human rights. But these days I am mostly over social media activism. 


That's an incredible question. 

One of the biggest reasons is I feel simply posting online changes nothing. People can post their opinions to "raise awareness" regarding issues all day, but does it help to change those issues? Likely not. What I found in these spaces is that a lot of the people jumping on bandwagons regarding certain things in politics have not actually done any substantial research to support their claims, yet they proudly tout their opinion as fact. They relied on a lot of misinformation and once they formed their opinion it never changed, even in the face of fact that proved their original theory to be completely unfounded. So what's the point of debating online when opinions don't actually change? 

I was thinking about it while doing dishes the other day, and I was wondering if I was just less idealistic now...perhaps a little more jaded because of some of the things I've learned and seen during my career and in my research journey, or if it was something else, like a growing disdain for the people who speak the loudest and do nothing worthwhile outside of their social media activism. 

I think it's a little of both. 

In this age of social media people rarely research things to figure out if it's actually propaganda before they either declare it fact or fake news. Then once they make their declaration, they cling to it like a drowning human clings to a life preserver. 

Through the course of my research, in both of my graduate programs and subsequent careers, I learned quite a bit about humanity and the absolutely awful things they will do to one another, especially once they convince themselves the people on the other side are less than human. We've done it since time began, and we probably won't stop anytime soon. So while yes, in my time offline I research and work on things to help humanity and help underserved communities and make changes to make the Earth a better place, while I am online I'm just here to share things and find a community and have fun. 

Compartmentalization is key for anyone working in spaces where they are confronted with the worst of humanity. When people are unable to have a space away that is when they burn out and cannot help anyone.  

I was recently accused of being a person who complains about politics in book spaces because I want to close my eyes to the atrocities in the world. And while yes that is partially true as I do sometimes need to close my eyes to the world, it is not because I am ignoring them in totality. I also do not care if others discuss politics in their book spaces; I just don't follow those people because for me my book space is a space to escape. I just want the respect of not being judged by what someone does not know about me for making that decision. I don't judge them for relating all of their reading to politics, so I expect the same respect back. 

Many people who, like me, don't want or are unable to discuss current events or politics or human rights online constantly are being judged rather harshly and unfairly for not sharing our views online. We are told that we aren't doing enough or sharing enough or bring enough awareness. And with all due respect, feel free to do whatever you want in your corner of the internet. 

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