No Response to Outside Issues

As a person who rarely posts on social media, especially about anything topics intensely debated, I was not sure I was well prepared for this kind of assignment. To scroll through the issues of today plastered all over social media feeds and read the comments of passionate people is entirely different from being the one to make those posts. The issue I decided to post about for my social action assignment is considerably tamer than most posts I come across, but it is something important to myself that I decided I would attempt to inform others about. I chose to write about the abandonment of rabbits around the Easter holiday and how this degree of animal cruelty is incredibly overlooked against the stream of political debates, global worries and even issues of animal cruelty surrounding more popular species. It seemed a trivial topic, but something I wanted to attempt to bring to light and hoped would spark some kind of debate. The internet is a place for all sorts of discussions to happen despite whether they have a heavy relevance to the times and I considered this post as a kind of test to see if anyone would react. I received no likes or shares on my post and only a single comment from a family member. The video I used in my post was from a very renowned magazine, the National Geographic, which I had hoped would inspire more conversation. Knowing the Easter holiday has since passed, I still hoped to grab the attention of those who might understand that the issue of rabbit abandonment is still high at this time. Perhaps with more time might come more interaction with my post from the public.

Here is a link to the Facebook post I made.

Making My Voice Heard

I have always been very invested in the issue of sexual assault. When the video came out of Donald Trump talking about assaulting women and condoning such horrific actions, I was disgusted. I was never one to put my political beliefs online since I have friends and family members who think differently, but this was a bipartisan issue. Someone who views sexual assault as a joke is not someone I want to be associated with let alone have as my president.  Because of my strong feelings about the topic, I decided to take to Facebook and post how I was feeling:

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I was nervous posting such a strongly opinionated post on social media, but having so many people like it made me feel validated and relieved. 47 people ended up liking my post on Facebook. Some of those people were close friends and family, and some I have never talked to before. I was glad that my post reached people and resonated with some enough for them to like it. The purpose of my post was to bring awareness to a huge issue facing us currently. I also wanted to make my voice heard and make it clear that no one should get away with this behavior. I think that I managed to accomplish my personal goals with this post. Being on social media that day I saw a lot of other people posting similar things. The sad reality I and many others were faced with was that social media posts weren’t enough. I knew a lot of people who were sickened by Donald Trump’s comments but didn’t vote. It was a huge wake-up call for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, that someone who has sexually assaulted women and condones such acts could be the president. After that experience, I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid of having a voice and standing up for what I believe in because otherwise, nothing will change. You can’t complain about the way things are if you aren’t willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

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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No Limitations

I related very closely to dana boyd’s depiction of social media.  In chapter three she talks about how kids rely on social media due to their limited freedoms: “For them, Facebook was the only way to stay connected”(boyd 85).  Boyd does a very good job at grasping how younger people use social media.  She accurately describes how children in this generation no longer have the time or opportunity to hang out with their friends in person as often.  Instead, friendships need to be maintained over Facebook and other social media platforms.  Social media allows for a sense of no limitations.

When I was in middle school but mostly high school, I became too busy to hang out with my friends every week.  The only time I would see people was in school.  I had to rely on texting and Facebook in order to communicate and keep up with what people were doing.  My mom would tell me to go and hang out with my friends, but in this day and age, that is unrealistic.  With the limited amount of time this generation has, it is almost impossible to make time to travel to your friend to hang out with them.  My parents talk about how when they were young they would come home from school and walk to their friend’s house.  Maybe my experience is so different because of where I live, but I could never just walk to a friend’s house.  I would need my parents to drive me which with increasingly busy schedules became more and more difficult.

Dana boyd does a very good job at highlighting the disconnect between kids and their parents.  In the beginning of the book and especially the third chapter, boyd goes back and forth between the opinions of kids and the opinions of parents.  The younger and older generations have an extremely large disconnect.  Parents have a perception that children are out of control on the internet and social media.  On the other hand, parents know much less about social media so how can they say that we’re out of control?  The younger generation needs to use social media in order to stay connected with the world around them.  A song that I really like called My World by Kid Cudi has references to how kids need their social media accounts in order to stay connected to other people even when you aren’t with them in person.