by Anonymous ’19
Stop it. Cut it out, right now.
You are not being productive or helping any cause by sharing the nth article about a police shooting with a caption along the lines of “SEE THIS CRAP STILL HAPPENS WE NEED TO STOP THIS.” We need to stop gunning people down in the streets? What an innovative idea; I can’t believe no one else has reached that conclusion. And even if you thought of a slightly wittier, slightly more intellectual caption, what is the purpose of sharing the article? If your point is to spread the news of the incident itself to help others generally be more aware of the world and the issue, that’s fantastic. But that’s not your point, is it? If it were, your caption wouldn’t be something that conveys only “I’M SO ANGRY HEAR ME ROAR MY PEOPLE ARE HURTING.” After you post something on Facebook with your oh-so-clever tagline, you get to go on with your life, whether that be watching cat videos or working a steady 9 to 5 job or picking your nose, literally anything but actually making a change.
The ironic thing is, you’re right. “Your” people are hurting. The United States, and the world at large, can be cruel. Sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and so many other atrocities plague human society, and though we’ve (arguably) made progress in at least some regards, we have so much work left to do. But we have to do work to effect change, not just make noise. You may claim victims and survivors and marginalized communities as “your” people, but you’ve done nothing but make an angry Facebook post, and at the end of the day you’re not too much worse for wear. That sounds pretty damn privileged to me. Simply being a member of a marginalized community and speaking up about a problem does not automatically mean you are an effective social activist.
You can argue that raising awareness is the first step of effecting change, and I couldn’t agree more. But you’re not really raising awareness by ranting on Facebook or going on a Twitter rampage if you do it so regularly that people can come to expect it of you. As a result, no one but those who already agree with you will pay attention, and the people that you most want to reach and the folks who might agree with you but are so fed up with your antics will roll their eyes and scroll right past. Getting ignored sounds like the opposite of spreading the word about something, doesn’t it?
“It’s not my fault if people don’t pay attention. I can’t do anything about it.” This sentiment is common, and these statements would be true if they were in a vacuum. But let’s consider the context. It’s true that if someone wants to ignore systemic racism in the United States then you’d be hard-pressed to make them listen. But that’s not the majority of your audience. You spend so much time posting on Facebook a plethora of articles and think pieces saying that violence is bad and prejudice is bad and marginalized communities are marginalized and yell about why no one seems to be doing anything to fix these problems. Your self-righteous ass might consider this venting or a form of survival or a good outlet in the name of mental health. Call it whatever you want; plainly and simply, it’s whining, and it’s so unproductive it would be funny if it weren’t contributing to the problems you so abhor by turning away everyone except for those who are problematic in the say ways you are. If you alienate even your allies, then the people whom you most want to convince definitely won’t have the patience for you either. You can’t do anything about people not paying attention to an issue; you can do something about people refusing to pay attention because you’re being an asshole.
Add something to the dialogue. It doesn’t have to be an original twist or a personal anecdote or anything of the like (though those could be cool if they promote discussion instead of simply spreading useless vitriol); you can even stick to the post-a-link-to-an-article-with-a-clever-caption-omg-i’m-so-clever-LOL caption format you enjoy so much. But find an article that discusses practical ways for people to contribute to the fight against hate. Promote steps to self-care in the face of an abominable event. Call attention to the problem by presenting ways people can fight the problem. Scream all you want about people stuck at the bottom of a well; people at the bottom can’t help unless you throw them a rope, and passersby won’t stop and help unless there’s a way for them to contribute. Use your anger and your pain and make it productive. Hell, maybe by looking for articles proposing practical solutions you’ll find more productive ways to help out yourself instead of just sharing articles and twiddling your thumbs while waiting for the likes to trickle in.
Some people do this already, and to these folks I say, “Thank you, please do more of it if you can.” The aftermath of the shooting in Orlando is a great example. In the wake of a tragic, horrific event, people flooded in to donate blood and supplies, and Facebook had onslaught upon onslaught of links with information on how to donate money or supplies and other ways to help deal with the turmoil. But too soon productive communication ceases, and already I have heard arguments along the line of “Why do we not have better gun control/less homophobia have we learned nothing from Orlando” — indeed, have we learned nothing? People get things done when they have a way to get them done. Gun control bills are a hot topic; organizations like Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union work their asses off to defend queer rights and fight homophobia. Why not spread the word about this side of the issues? Why not let people know how they can get involved?
If instead you’re stumbling over yourself to prove you are a productive modern-age social activist and this article makes you angry, pause for a moment. If you actually are a productive modern-age SJW, then relax — I’m not talking about you (though if you are so defensive, you might want to reevaluate whether you are actually as productive an activist as you delude yourself to think). If this article upsets you for a reason other than the occasional profanity, get over yourself. I refuse to spare your fragile feelings when you are contributing to the marginalization and alienation of the most vulnerable communities with your silly illusion of working to solve the problem when in reality you’re making the problem worse. Your self-righteous fury may be justified, but your presentation is alienating and turns people away from issues that need attention now more than ever.
Notice how I have not taken the opportunity to explain my own political leanings or try to justify why I have the qualifications to criticize the SJW community in the ways that I do. If you can’t tell after reading this far that I support social activism, then read from the beginning again. If you’re demanding to see my SJW credentials because you’re fuming at my audacity to criticize your beautiful liberal bubble and call it unproductive, and dare I say (I do), worthless, then get your head out of your butt and pay attention. Hitler was an atrocity, right? And I bet you’re still pissed about #Trump2k16. In fact, many people have, not unjustly, drawn comparisons between the two. You yourself might have shared a few articles or posted a few opinions stating the same. At the very least you probably feel something like “How could this happen?” and “My country has betrayed me.”
It’s hilarious that you would be this self-centered and blind. The country hasn’t betrayed you; people around you simply got fed up with your blaming other people for your problems and refusing to engage in dialogue with people that disagree with you in the slightest. They’re just as fed up with the fucked up world as you are, and they decided to vote for Trump and shake things up because at least he represents change, for better or for worse, and you sure as hell weren’t going to stop your yelling to pay attention to their problems. And this isn’t just a problem with white voters; ethnic minorities voted Republican in surprising margins as well. Stop trying to blame people for the world’s problems; everyone knows that things are messed up. Pick up any major newspaper or tune into any radio station in the past year and you know about black citizens being gunned down by police or about Orlando or about Brock Turner. Stop deluding yourself with the thought that blaming people is in any way productive by itself. People write off SJWs because you never propose a solution (even an implausible one, but at least you’d be trying). You’re so scared of getting it wrong or not getting it perfect (Bernie-or-busters voting for Trump sound familiar?) because if something doesn’t fix the problem perfectly, it’s not worth doing, right? Laughably wrong. The whole point of trying to improve something, especially something as big and complicated as society, is that you learn from your mistakes. If you don’t try different things, you have no mistakes from which to learn, and your problems will remain equally bad at best.
I get it if you’re scared about getting something wrong, because what if you hurt people in the process? But people are getting hurt anyway — it’s a matter of how many people and whether you’ve done anything to lessen the damage. Isn’t it better to be able to say “Today I tried to help and tomorrow I’ll do better” than not to be able to say anything at all? And if you don’t alienate others while trying to contribute to social activism, maybe they’ll have a fresh perspective or new ideas about how to approach the problems you’re tackling or at least about how to get more people in on the fight. It’s almost as if allies are helpful or social change needs a lot of people or something. Gee, who woulda thought?
Sincerely Fed Up with Your Antics,
A Frustrated SJW