Activism: the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change. (Google)
There are many activists in the world and I’d say a majority of them are passionate about their causes. I’ve befriended a few in recent years and I admire them and their work. They passionately rally and organize, doing their best to affect political or social change. Watching them work inspires me to find a cause for which I can be as passionate and organize and change the world, too. However, there are some activists I see who are not passionate about their causes and only organize to change their own bank accounts and exposure.
As many of you know, I am on Twitter (@KeenePOV). Twitter provides instant access to people in never-before-seen ways. Someone can get a notification that they have a tweet (Twitter calls these notifications “mentions”) and engage the person who hit them up. I’ve had discussions on Twitter and have seen Twitter used as a force for good, most recently in the National Moment of Silence across the world and the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot rallies across the U.S – all for demanding justice in the murder of Mike Brown and protesting police brutality of minority men and women.
I applaud these people who organized this and hope that nothing they do is out of vainglory. I’m sure it is not. However, I must say that there are some on Twitter who only want that – recognition, fame, and whatever guest spot Melissa Harris-Perry offers them on a weekend. They want to sell books and seem to be hijacking causes just to get their names out there. I think some of them used to be in grassroots groups but got jealous when they couldn’t get on the podium to speak or if they couldn’t get the loudspeaker at rallies. Maybe they were some protest hecklers who just wanted to be heard. I don’t know. Whatever happened, they wound up on Twitter and began shock tweeting, tweeting recklessly, and always seemed to be way too turnt up for EVERYTHING on their timeline.
For instance, we could be watching an episode of Scandal on Twitter and cracking jokes and expressing shared shock or “meh”s and along comes some activist talking about how the handling of Sally Langston’s husband led to bi erasure and bi vilification and how Olivia Pope is nothing more than a willing Mammy character because the penis that is inside of her when Mellie isn’t looking happens to belong to a white man. Like…shut all the way up and just enjoy something for once. I’ve unfollowed several of these people who make everything about them or their cause like they don’t have any other interests.
These people adopt the weirdest forms of activism and are more concerned with building a “brand” around their Twitter personality, so they can’t enjoy simple things and always have to connect everything in the world that happens to their online persona. Sure, some of them have a lot of followers (which is the goal to be able to sell yourself to potential investors – “You get me and my audience!”), but they always appear outraged, angry, mad, and some are even depressed but when you try to tell them that they go off about how much they know, their degrees, power, and influence (mostly in the form of trolls who flame others at the command of their masters). (I saw someone once who tweeted that they prefer to be in a depressed mood over being happy about much. How do you live like this?! Always choose happiness whenever you can, people.)
If you have a hustle through activism, please stop. You’ll only reveal who you really are after a while. Activists stay the course, even when they get tired and they never turn negative about their causes. They’re passionate. I’m seeing a lot of folks on social media claiming to be activists, but never do any activism offline and they don’t use Twitter as a supplement for their activism the way actual activists do.
I’d respect these folks a lot more if they owned their ambition and desires rather than hijacking movements to promote themselves with misguided hashtag activism (which sucks, because Twitter has brought attention to a lot of stuff that would be otherwise ignored) and being so easily provoked into a fight with complete strangers who only respond as forcefully as you did when you asked your inflammatory question or made some wild accusation when that person was just minding their business.
Bottom line(s): Stop hijacking movements to promote yourselves. If you’re going to be about getting your come-up, at least be honest about it and stay out of activism. You can speak to it from your own platform, but don’t pretend to be a part of the movement and try to guide it away from the main road down to your shack.