Sunday, October 13, 2013

Random worries over the future of online social justice

VINTAGE CAR OF THE MONTH! Any guesses on the year? I will take a wild guess and say 1975. (Can Volkswagens last that long?)

I took this shot at Greenville County Square on Saturday, right before the March Against Monsanto.


My wee Tumblr blog doesn't get much attention... not sure why I started it, except that now I can officially "like" other people's entries. Still no comments allowed though! Such a weird system; I still find the 'nesting' thoroughly confusing and I frequently can't decipher who has said what.

I recently posted THIS on Tumblr... to me, some of the most shocking content I could ever have posted. (Then again, that statement probably just shows my age.) It's a photo I took at the Fort Sumter museum in Charleston, of a slave tag. Lots of people don't realize that enslaved African-Americans wore identifying tags (like animals), so I thought I would share the photo. I also included a slavery-era poster warning northern blacks (in Boston) against approaching police, who were then-empowered as bounty hunters (aka "slave catchers"). These two displays in aforesaid museum had the cumulative effect of shooting me right through the heart. I may even have shed some tears. But on Tumblr? Not a big deal--I got one "like" and one reblog. And that's it.

History is bunk, as Henry Ford schooled us.

I recently read a Wiki about a Tumblr blogger I have been following for some time. I consider this individual little more than an amusing hysteric/abusive psycho-nuisance, but when she has emotional meltdowns (often, as psycho-nuisances usually do), she unwittingly provides us with some first-class comedy relief. I was startled to read that this person is regarded as "serious social-justice" (is "social-justice" now a noun for a certain type of radical poseur on Tumblr?). And I am wondering--how is that possible? Serious social-justice?!? Saints preserve us.

This person has done nothing but vent endlessly (several times a day, usually) in a self-righteous, pseudo-political fashion, using all the trendy lefty buzzwords of the day. She has never done ANY political organizing or actual community-work in real life. At least, if she has, she has never mentioned it. And since every single wayward hypochondriacal symptom and every meal eaten and every DVD viewed is carefully cataloged and shared with her legions of fans, I think we would have heard all about any ACTUAL SOCIAL JUSTICE work by now. In excruciating detail.

And yet, this person is considered "serious social-justice"; its enough to make you want to tear your hair out.

This might go a long way towards explaining why this current generation faces endless wars (plural) they seem disinclined to stop, much less actually protest against. After all, it's been left to their poor and immigrant peers (along with computers and drones) to actually fight these wars, so what is the harm? They have far bigger fish to fry, like picking apart other bloggers for using the wrong trendy words and/or having the wrong opinions. (And even though they loooove to see racism and ethnic bias under every rock, they don't see their blatant disregard for the people their country is bombing, as racism and/or xenophobia, as it certainly is.) This explains why there are all these "social justice warriors" on Tumblr, and yet they have had no impact at all, ZERO INFLUENCE, in the public square. None. Zip. Tumblr is like a fantasy-land, a computer game, and "social justice" is one of the colorful environments chosen as background, just like choices of locations in Farmville.

Very, very few Tumblrites have even commented on the current government shutdown, so it seems obvious none are receiving WIC (as I once did, which I mentioned on the air last week) or utilizing HEAD START or are immediately affected by government in any other way. In fact, very few mentioned the long-awaited roll-out of Obamacare. I have not seen any of them discuss the pros and cons of Obamacare... in fact, its all fulminating, with little mention of real life events or the ramifications of various political policies.

It's disheartening, even frightening. I hope this is not the future. If it's only one FRAGMENT of the future, I can handle it. But I hope this is not what "social justice" eventually devolves to: SOCIAL JUSTICE FARMVILLE! GET COOL CARTOON IMPLEMENTS FOR VIRTUAL COMPOSTING! BUY CHICKENS THAT LAY ONLY FREE RANGE VIRTUAL EGGS! And don't forget to put down the people with the ordinary chickens for not being cool. Otherwise, where's the fun in that?

(War? What war?)


Kimberly D said...

This might be overly optimistic, but here's my take:

A lot of your experience on tumblr depends on who you follow. I'm not going to go to the defense of the people who are looked at as "big names" in "tumblr sj" (they can all rot, some of them have abused me personally, and the best that can be said of them is that a lot of them will happily tell you they aren't activists or SJ bloggers when asked).

People like a spectacle, and the people doing actual work don't tend to make nearly as much of a spectacle (and thus a name for themselves) on tumblr. 90% of what I do is person-to-person support behind the scenes. A friend of mine organized a march recently. But that doesn't make nearly as much of a spectacle to the online audience as melting down publicly.

I can't speak to the thing about WIC (the people I follow tend to be younger, trans, and gay, each of which decreases their likelihood to be pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a small child), but I heard about the thing where EBT stopped working from friends who were affected by it.

There are some people I respect deeply who do great work on tumblr just; there's just a lot of noise and worse to dredge through. The people who convinced me that radical feminism had a place for me that didn't center around hating myself are just as much a part of tumblr as my abusers are.

thene said...

Tumblr is going to go the way of MySpace, I'm pretty sure. There's no money in it and the design is terrible, so, like MySpace, people will find themselves growing out of it at a rapid rate.

The Farmville comparison reminds me of your previous posts about how Farmville uses social keeping-up-appearances pressure to keep people playing!

Fat Alice said...

d, as u know - i hate tumblr. it seems 2 attract abusers - as kim is saying. they cluster over there & encourage each others worst traits.

its funny: i wondered who u meant, then realized it could be *so many* tumblr sjws. *not* a good sign.

kim, ive enjoyed your tumblr & maybe 3 others max. not many. i like someone 2 force me 2 think & most just piss me off.

that isnt the 'thinking' im looking for.

bhidu said...

"social justice" is fashion. it will pass. i dont take it seriusly and u shouldnt either.