Tapped Out: When Social Media Isn’t Enough

Today, I logged into my Facebook to see more about the Black Lives Matter movement alongside the news of another fatal shooting. Someone had also shared Dr. Marc Spooner’s post that comments on John Gormley’s “Gormley: Tapping-Out on the culture activism”. I wholeheartedly agree with what Dr. Marc Spooner has to say and, as an educator in the same program from which he teaches, I can understand his frustration towards those who ‘check-out’ yet, I struggle with this and I think that we all do to some degree as is the nature of privilege and social justice – no one can do it all. But I think that sometimes ‘tapping out’ of posting articles and publicly criticizing the long and ever-growing list of complaints isn’t a bad thing.

I am relatively new to the large and expanding field of social justice and while I don’t condone Gormley’s article or his writing without educating himself first, to a degree, I can understand the pull to ‘check out’. It seems that we hear these stories every day and for the past few days we have. We check the news to see another missing or murdered indigenous woman, another mass shooting or video surfacing depicting an office of the law using excessive force (or firearm) against a person of colour. It’s become almost predictable and I, for one, have tapped out in a way.  It’s no longer shocking to see these stories. Gormley discusses how society has changed to favour the culture of activism, especially through media. His opinion is that there have been 5 changes: society has come to favour the individual instead of community, increase in entitlement and grievances, a newfound “cult of attention and publicity” and a lack of care for behaviour deterrence such as the feeling of shame. Of course, this is Gormley’s opinion but it seems that for him, the culture of activism is based mostly around media and what others think. By Gormley’s definition of “whose well-publicized hurt feelings, grievances and complaints should become your problem” and “cacophony of attention-seeking grievance collectors”, it seems that all activism takes place in a very public way but this is not the case. Gormley seems to be describing how he is ‘tapped out’ of the same stories over and over and the repetition of similar stories blasting through our feeds. It seems that Gormley is solely focussed on media and slacktivism so by his definition, I too have tapped out.

I’ve stopped sharing the news articles and while I almost feel guilty for not sharing every terrorism attack (not just the ones that are more publicized because they are western, first world countries), at this point, if I shared every injustice that came across whatever platform I’m indulging in at the time, that would be all I have time for. Gormley makes reference to Johnny Oleksinski’s article “I’m a millennial and my generation sucks” and while he, himself, is putting millennial into a box that has been created by his experiences and the media, I disagree entirely. I am a millennial and I fully believe that due to the way that anyone can create media these days (especially millennials), the things that may have been swept under the rug in previous generations are not being tolerated. While I try not to ignore this self-made media there are too many things being posted every day that matter for me to post. I’ll admit it’s easy to just repost after reading only the title of an article and assuming its contents and still feel that I’ve done my good deed for the day. It’s easy but it’s not okay. As with anyone interested in social justice, I have to choose what I spend my time and energy on. That’s not to say that I don’t care just because I don’t post about it. While Gormley’s article is extremely harmful, where he contradicts himself is in his conclusion stating, “It’s not that we don’t care. We do. Or that we don’t judge. We most certainly do. We just go about our lives in a public silence and indifference that is often confused with tolerance. In short, many of us have had enough of the culture of activism. We’ve simply tapped out”. As Gormley laments the coddled nature of our society today, he misunderstands that silence and indifference IS tolerance but there is a difference between media silence and doing the work and just not posting about it.

I can understand how someone so engaged in the media can dismiss these issues especially on a social platform and I know as a white person how extremely forceful the pull is to just let it happen around us. I can also understand how wrong this is. I agree with Gormley solely in the fact that I don’t appreciate slacktivism as much as I once did. I know that it can be effective in many cases (another blog post for another time), however, many of these issues also require personal conversations. Sometimes social media is the platform for that and other times reposting just isn’t enough. As a white person, I need to be asking “what can I do to make this better?” This is not a place where my voice should be heard and in many senses, this is where the reposting does help by fuelling the voices of those who need to be heard. Gormley says that we have had enough of the culture of activism, but we have only just begun. My facebook wall may not show that I partake in the ‘culture of activism’ but maybe it doesn’t have to. The culture of activism shouldn’t be just online. My job right now is to go to First Nations ceremonies and volunteer my time and energy so someone else doesn’t have to always do the grunt work. My job is to go listen to the stories of elders and allow them to speak. I should be educating myself before I will my opinion on the world through my social media instead of blindly reposting articles. As an educator, I should ensure that my students learn the value of critical thinking so that they can deconstruct opinion pieces such as Gormley’s. I may not be publicizing my activism through social media, but quietly, It’s still happening and maybe we do need to put in the work instead of being glorified for posting the right articles.

These two articles include ways to support social justice movements both on and off of the internet:

“17 ways you can work for social justice” by Nina Flores published by Yes! Magazine

“8 ways to meaningfully support social justice movements” by Savonne Anderson published by Mashable

#TreatyedELA

Wow, long time, no blog…

I’ve been having a very guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach because I haven’t blogged YET this semester. I’ve reflected lots but not on this medium. I’ve started thinking more about polishing up my thoughts and having revised posts but at the same time, I want to show my students draft work and train of thought. I want to show my students that sometimes it’s not about the mechanics and having a fully polished, publishable piece and instead, it’s about the quality of thought and critical thinking. That being said, I also want to show case some of my best thoughts and ideas and how I choose to represent this in polished pieces. Over the summer, I hope to expand on a few of my thoughts I have kept to myself in more polished pieces on my blog.

That being said, I’ve been very busy this semester in pre-internship so I’ve got lots to say and I have one topic I want to address as it’s relevant. Today, I attended the UR STARS event Treaty Education in ELA and it was phenomenal

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I’ve been actively trying to be more involved with UR STARS this semester and I genuinely feel that I’m in the right place being in this group. Having this support group is so critical in this field and in pursuing anti-oppression education.

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I will blog more about my experiences during this professional development event soon but, for now, I just wanted to get my certificate onto my online portfolio (and brag mostly.) Being in UR STARS motivates me to do the best that I can do.  Even if the best that I can do varies from day to day, I know that I am still working towards anti-oppressive education.  Everything is hard but if it’s worth doing, you do it anyways and I know that this is a cause worth taking up and a life-long learning pursuit.

I Wish I Had…

I am utterly infatuated with Adele’s most recent album. Before the release, many in the media were saying (including Adele herself) that this album is a reflection on her past as a bittersweet reminiscence. I can relate to this because I find myself often thinking the phrase “I wish I had..”. I wish that I had stuck with an instrument or I wish I was more athletic because I feel that those are things that would set me apart where I am now in my life. I used to find that there was nothing that set me apart, nothing that I was interested in that defined who I am. Many other students in my graduating class were artists or on sports teams, acted in musicals or played instruments, but I was that kid who was mediocre(ly) good at everything. I was interested in environmental science but nothing came of that, I was an artist but not as good as I thought some of my classmates were, I was in musicals but I never wanted to play the lead role and I wouldn’t have been caught dead on a sports team. There are many things that I wish I had done or had committed to more but the other day I had a realization.  I am who I am now because of the things that I didn’t have enough time for or didn’t try in my younger years. If I had been busy on sports teams, I wouldn’t have found time to read. I may not have found a home in social justice and anti-oppressive education if I had been busy practicing the violin.

When I chose to pursue education as a career, I had to pick a major (for my secondary program) and I had so many subjects to choose from that I really didn’t know what the best choice would be until a vice principal at my school looked at my marks and realized that my humanities classes had slightly better marks. Not by 10% or 15% but by 4% or 5%. This small difference showed me that I don’t necessarily have to get great marks to enjoy something. Until this point, I had thought that most people just enjoyed the classes that they did the best in in terms of grades. I, however, seemed to be mind-numbingly average from my own point of view. Now I can see that while I may not be the best at something, I am so much more than that. I am SO proud of who I have become. I’ve found a home and a love in social justice and anti-oppressive education as well as English. I also realized that I did all the things that I never considered myself to be. I’m not a classically trained musician, but I can play my guitar pretty well and sing along in a way that makes me happy (not because other’s think I’m great but because I think I’m great and I honestly enjoy what I’m doing). I never considered myself to be an athlete. I was always reserved and self-conscious and I never thought that I had what it takes to be an athlete and now I work out almost every day and I love pushing my body to see how strong I am. I’ve still never played a team sport but I have the confidence and physical literacy to enjoy my physical being and I’m just getting strong and gaining confidence every day.

I’ve done all of the things I never thought I would do or be but I did them in a way that pleased me, not the societal standards of what defines these types of people. I have broad and diverse interests that make me knowledgeable in many areas and more importantly, have made me into a curious person who always craves more. I would not have found my passions and gained all of these diverse literacies if I had tried to fit myself into what I thought society deemed for these roles or I would have been too concerned with only having one role to play to see my other strengths. I don’t want to be seen as just a single definition in simplest terms because I’m not. No one is. In the essence of “The Breakfast Club” (John Hughes, 1985), we are not simple definitions instead we are characters who are diverse and have many aspects to our personalities. I am no longer reminiscent of the things I didn’t do, instead, I focus on things that I want to do to enrich my future because there is always time to learn something new (even if you think that you’re too old for it).

Life After My #LearningProject

Since my learning project, I have continued with my eating healthy. I have also added a work-out plan. I was on the 21 day fix program through Beach Body and I loved it so much that I became a coach. I’ve seen some amazing transformations and despite not having created an amazing transformation in myself I feel that the support and optimism that these women and men give to each other is something that I want to be a part of. I lost about 4 pounds and 5 inches during my first 21 day fix but I’ll admit that December certainly got the best of me. However, I’m going to stop blaming it on December because I haven’t been giving it my all. In the New Year, I’m running a challenge group and even before then, I’m going to start being actually committed to this. One of my upline coaches was talking about how she thought she was committed but then in reality when she deconstructed her behaviours and actions, she wasn’t giving it her all. This is has been happening to me. I find myself thinking that I’m following the eating plans that I want to be and then I’ll binge on the majority of a take-out pizza late at night. Obviously, I’m not going to stop eating pizza but I definitely didn’t need EIGHT pieces. (Yikes, I just counted that and it makes my stomach turn). That makes me feel so guilty. Boredom, emotional and binge eating can’t play a role in my lifestyle anymore if I want to be healthy for myself and my family. I want to set an example and show my friends and family that this can be done and I don’t need to start in the New Year. I need to start listening to my body and how I feel when I eat. I’m going to work hard from this point on to get the body and the brain that I want.