by Nidhi Pattni
There has been a shift in the way conversations are taking place in the digital space. As our understanding of the world around us develops, whether it may be in relation to climate change or a rise in humanitarian crises, we are becoming increasingly aware of where we stand and what our responsibilities are. Activism has been a part of our civilisation in a variety of forms, whether it is through marches, boycotts, or the more recent avatar, social media activism. We all know the power social media platforms hold in their ability to create an impact, whether positive or negative. A post you upload could start a movement and a click could add to its momentum. But what is the reason behind this rise in the anger and overwhelming urge for things to change?
The answer is simple: the world isn’t where it should be. Yes, one might argue that we are in a better position as a civilisation than we were decades ago, and that is true but in disturbing ways, we are slowly moving backwards in several aspects. It is suddenly acceptable to promote hate speech as some of our world leaders have risen to their positions by profiting off hatred. There is a significant difference between the ways in which certain groups in society live their lives, whether due to their economic class, gender or race. There is a rising threat of our world becoming uninhabitable by the minute and there is not much being done to acknowledge let alone address it. Society in many ways is in shambles and instead of being indifferent to it, there is a large number of individuals who are enraged.
This rage stems from a deep desire to change the systems that exist to exploit people without a powerful standing in society. The voice gets louder as things get worse because it wants to be heard by those with the financial and political resources to actually implement changes. Whether it may be through boycotting Chick-fil-A or sharing stories of sexual harassment by saying #Metoo, people want to see a change.
It is important to remember that yes, people’s participation in this wave of activism is nothing but incredible. But, we must also acknowledge our responsibilities in this long fight to ensure that we are not leaving anyone out or letting the wrong people take control. Feminism is a movement I would say we all tend to stand by, alright maybe “all” is a bit of an optimistic word. Millions of us identify as feminists now, however, in the past a large portion of women were excluded from the movement. We cannot allow this to happen again. We need to bring every person into the conversations we have regarding social issues.
We need to educate ourselves and others. One thing that activists often get wrong is that they isolate those who do not understand their fight. We often tend to correct someone if they say something we believe is problematic, and that is a good thing. However, there is a difference between correcting someone and attacking them. With the recent rise of social media activism, we have also seen a rise in “cancel culture”. This happens when an individual does something against the views of a particular movement and people are too quick to edge them out of the conversation permanently. However, there is no potential for a real change if human beings are mistaken for being perfect. Something you might have said when you were in high school could be problematic now, and a word you might use now could be considered offensive to a particular group five years from now. The point is that instead of dismissing someone for making a mistake, we must educate them about why what they have said or done is not okay. Yes, it is also important, however, to remember that if someone is rude or just blissfully ignorant despite your attempts, it is not your responsibility to change their mindset. This could be damaging to your mental health and that is never to be taken for granted, especially because activism can be draining. Pick your battles.
Lastly, we must remember that the fight is long and it is painfully slow. It might take us another few decades before a fundamental change in the causes we are passionate about. However, we must not give up, we will only see better days if we are behind the process that is creating them. So, keep sharing those posts and keep charging through those marches, a change is coming, I can see it.