Increasing civic engagement in the age of “woke” “slacktivism”
3 Ways to turn your “enlightened” posts into real activism.
If I continue to post on social injustices, am I making a difference? Not really, but here’s how you can.
In the age of social media, woke is moving from how deeply you tangle with hard concepts to timing your post just right laced with all the necessary BLM hashtags. Originally, the self-proclaimed ‘woke’ social media participant is defined as having self-awareness within a larger societal system. Although, The new ‘woke’ on social media can be disengaging and breed complacency. So, how do we get the most of this newly found “awareness” and turn our socially minded presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter into civic engagement?
Become engaged voters, locally. As millennials — we are becoming a more vocal generation but the disparities between us and our grandparent’s generation widen in local elections. Mike Maciag of Governing.com noted that in Las Vegas “less than 2 percent of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 34 voted in the city’s 2015 mayoral election, compared to about 33 percent for those 65 and over.” Voting is important, because when it comes to racial inequity and economic injustices so many fingers point to local elections. For example, we rarely see millennial voters emphasize the importance of district attorney elections, which seem pretty important. Andrew Novak of The Daily Beast noted the “tough on crime” slogan for prosecutors running for office promote high incarceration rates. Not to mention the drastically low number of black and female prosecutors.
So, engage with the election process — and then spread the word via social media if you are so inclined. In the grand scheme of awareness, use your vote to invoke social justice. For the North Carolinians, you have a few redistricting bills coming up. Use your vote to implement impartial non-partisan gerrymandering.
Not sure how to get engaged or what bills are coming up? Engage in events/discussions/reading. Facebook provides the opportunity for event organizers to put action behind posts. There list of rallies, town halls, discussions, festivals etc. that you can attend is never-ending. See what others in your circle have responded to as ‘interesting’, ‘maybe’, or ‘going’. In the beltway, tons of Think Tanks put on roundtables and informal/formal discussions to engage broad audiences with important. Equipped with experts and tons of information, these organizations are bred specifically to churn out events that inform us, so use them and ask questions. Be okay with being uncomfortable and asking questions. Be okay with the fact that none of us know as much as we think we know. When you’re not sure what a think tank is, go to events at nearby colleges or read more.
Remember, your actions are a part of a movement beyond yourself. The sooner we realize that to be an engaged actor is to move toward a larger common goal i.e. getting a bill passed, having the uncomfortable conversations and not to increase our following; the better. In an article by Ben Scott of The Ithacan he interviewed Ithaca College senior and student activist, Zihui Adams who notes, “[Movements] become about being tweeted about or being interviewed for a feature article…It stops being about the larger movement itself.” So, I say let’s not hide behind our computers, and get out there to learn and engage as curious and flawed individuals.