Social Media Activism: Effective or Ineffective?

In this article, James Jang discusses the effectiveness and ineffectiveness in activism against racism on social media. In particular, James focuses on the website Tumblr. The article tackles the idea of whether or not social media posts against racism are helpful in combating injustice or if these posts just support a theory of “inauthentic”, “poser” activists. This is a concept I myself have struggled with as well. As these forms of social media (as well as the internet as a whole) are intangible, are posts related to injustice as powerful as physical acts of protests such as going into the street and marching, holding signs, or rioting? In James’ article, he points out that “Tumblr is an interesting place to observe social justice in action. It hosts networks of anti-racist bloggers who resist the everyday racisms they experience in their “real” or “physical” lives.” As James continues, anti-racism bloggers “communicate their anti-racist thoughts and engage with ideas that challenge or inform their individual understanding and experiences of racism”.

James explains that various blog arenas can be accessed via tumblr. These blogs, have an “about me” section which allows the blogger to share their backgrounds as PoCs, allowing them to assert themselves within the community of anti-racism. These ethnic identity assertions allow for individuals to share their experiences with racism as well as communally assert their issues with US treatment of minorities within the country. James also makes the argument that internet space is a “safe space” where PoC are not withheld from saying who they truly feel about US society.

I find this conversation especially pertinent due to the recent non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed young black Ferguson resident Michael Brown. Since this grand jury decision, I have seen many social activism posts on my Facebook newsfeed. Do you all find the internet to be an effective way to promote social justice? Is the fact that the internet is a non-tangible outlet make it less effective? What does a post to social media say about you and your willingness to speak up against the injustice of this judicial response? Are you doing enough?

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