After watching the video interview regarding the role social media now plays in the news sector and experiencing the intense emotions on campus following the election results from November 8th, 2016 I am once again reminded to think critically about the relationship my words have with my (re)actions. Though I may be young, I have thought quite a bit about how the world chooses to or not to put their money where their mouth is as the saying goes. Of my peers and those I engage with in my day to day life, very few of them seem to embody this "be the change" Ghandi speaks of. But I also must be careful not to distance myself too far because I too, fall short.
So, when reflecting about why I fall short in following up with my declarations, I come across a realization of sorts: when I choose to act on the words that I speak it is for two reasons: 1. I feel empowered to do so by my circumstance, my education, or my community or 2. I feel a responsibility to protect, educate, or advocate despite foreboding repercussions. I have come to recognize my privilege in that I have felt both of these circumstances but I realize, understand, and empathize how people choose inactions in their absence.
The example of Facebook in light of this election season highlights this exceptionally. In a bubble where all that you see is what you yourself agree with what you see, why would you feel any sort of responsibility to advocate or educate further? Or, adversely if you are bombarded with ideas contrary to yours, in addition to assumptions, threats, and insults being thrown at folks who identify similarly to you, then the fear of those repercussions may be too great to speak out.
One of the most beautiful ideas of the world wide web was that it was a place for all to speak their mind, practice their liberties, engage with others different from themselves, and create unity over things they are passionate about. I fear that is not the reality. Confirmation bias, cyber trolls, propaganda, and outright misinformation run rampant. People are ostracised and slandered for differing opinions. There is nothing empowering about this culture we've created.
So what can be done to change it?
Should something be done?
As a person who firmly believes in the power of education, I think the key is to be conscious. Be conscious of what our actions and inactions say about who we are and what we stand for. Be conscious of the humans sitting behind the usernames scrolling on your screen. Be conscious of the complexity of social, political, economical, and ecological issues. Be conscious of what you are supporting with your likes, your clicks, your purchases, and your mentions. Summatively, be conscious of the POWER you have with your word; to be kind, to be empathetic, to be interested, to be supportive - or to not be any of these.
Yes, we live in a society governed by rules, norms, constructs, and expectations that often feel big and out of our control. We must remember that we ARE the society in which we live, and in that we have the power to change it, but in order to do so, we must be conscious.
In consciousness is power. With power comes responsibility. And responsibility, change.
These are just a few photos showcasing my time at MSU. Lots of memories and even more smiles.