Social Action Meets Overwhelming Disinterest

For our “Writing as Social Action” assignment, I decided to share a post on Facebook from an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Recently, I participated in an alternative break program though the university. Through this program, I worked directly with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a large non-profit organization dedicated to mitigating pollution to the bay and advocating for sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices. I learned a lot about the economic and social importance of the bay during the program, and in turn decided that I would utilize a post from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Facebook page for this assignment.

Recently, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation shared an article from the New York Times that discusses the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to programs like the EPA. CBF’s post in conjunction with that article read “Tell Congress to protect the Bay!”. As someone who considers himself an environmentalist and a conservationist, these recent proposals to cut funding have upset me. Furthermore, I felt even more compelled to use this post after working with CBF for a week. I decided to share this article with my friends on Facebook, and write a brief post above expressing my frustration with the cuts and the importance of the Chesapeake Bay. I wrote “The proposed cuts to government programs like the EPA will have extraordinary repercussions. More than the US’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake provides many with opportunities for marine recreation while also supporting the economies of the Mid-Atlantic States through fishing and crabbing. Cutting funds to the EPA would negate regulations and resources that are integral to keeping the bay healthy. It’s time we start putting our planet first #SaveTheBay”.

My hope in sharing this post was not only to draw attention to an issue that I feel is important, but to hopefully get a small dialogue going as well. I envisioned some comments in support of my post, as well as perhaps some that questioned the importance of funding such programs. After all, effective discourse is achieved through weighing different viewpoints. Unfortunately, in the first 24 hours after sharing this post, I had one person react to it, and zero comments. Moreover, the person that reacted to my post is a friend of mine who went on the alternative break trip with me, and she simply liked the post. Furthermore, there were zero comments posted, and thus, no discourse. After the first day, much to my disappointment, there were no subsequent changes on the post in terms of people reacting or commenting.

Where could I have gone wrong? I thought of a few possible answers. I think part of why my post did not get much attention starts with the simple idea that less and less internet users my age use Facebook with the same regularity that they did four years ago. However, this is too convenient of an excuse to make up for the entirety of why my post flopped. I believe that another explanation is that the cause that I advocated for (protecting the Chesapeake Bay) is very specific and does not concern many of my friends on Facebook (I live in New Jersey, neither near the bay, nor in its watershed). Finally, I believe that many people my age are averse to anything political posted on social media forums. While I myself do read a lot about politics, I can empathize with others, because I do not like to put my political views on the internet most of the time. In the future, I think it would be beneficial to focus on an issue that more of my friends and followers can connect with, as well as implore friends to “share, share, share”.

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Author: Sam W

I am a Geography major and Writing minor at the University of Delaware. My primary interests are mapping, climatology, environmental and wildlife conservation, writing, reporting, and broadcasting. Using this blog, my goal is to write and publish insightful and thought provoking posts regarding digital rhetoric.

One thought on “Social Action Meets Overwhelming Disinterest”

  1. Don’t beat yourself up too much, Sam! It’s a good post. Maybe the way to think about how to increase its circulation and impact is not to ask what your current friends are interested in, but who might be interested in this issue and how you might reach them. In other words, don’t change the subject, change who you’re talking to about it. ~Joe


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