Rise of keyboard activists

Graphic by Lena Yang

Graphic by Lena Yang

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, he probably didn’t foresee this.

He, and other early pioneers of the internet, likely dreamed of a network overflowing with information, which would bring humanity into a golden age of knowledge and reason. Discussion and exchange of ideas would prevail, bringing the truth to all. It’s sad to say that this is not the case.

Instead, the Internet has been hijacked by a growing number of what I call “keyboard activists.” They are people who take everything good about the Internet and atempt to ruin it in every way possible.

Instead of participating in rational debate, these groups prefer a more fascist approach: to create propaganda, generate hysteria and attack those who would dare be indifferent to such vital matters of social justice.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem – let them be, right? The problem is when extremists hang around other extremists, their opinions become exponentially more extreme as they attempt to one-up another and demonstrate how socially responsible they are.

These communities do not facilitate discussion about real solutions that can change the world; they simply reflect one’s own opinion to the point that it becomes inconceivable that one could possibly be wrong.

Now bearing the resemblance of a Fox News broadcaster, these empowered activists participate in shouting matches that can be heard across the Internet, spreading their irrefutable gospel.

Which brings about the real problem: these activists, loud and (arguably) well-meaning as they may be, do nothing to help remedy the issues at hand.

“Raising awareness” is more often than not simply clicking “share” for a video participating in a comments section brawl, which makes the activist feel good but has no effect on the world at large.

As people begin to notice this, they too hop aboard the keyboard activism bandwagon and perpetuate the delusion that they’re making a change. It’s infectious, and it opens up innocent people to endless exploitation by those who can see through the hysteria.

For instance, take the Kony campaign back in 2012. Capturing the evil man became all the rage, and it set the social media world on fire. #Kony2012 became the number one trending topic on Twitter, and the video garnered 50 million views in just four days.

But to what end? Was he caught? Have the lives of these Ugandan children been made any better by the western world’s cries? The answer is no. Invisible Children made a lot of money off of this campaign, a lot of which has been used questionably. Lots of money was generated, but no souls were saved — no children were freed.

Such is the moral of this story: if you want to see something change, you have to get off of your ass. You’ll have to sacrifice some money, some actual energy, something.

Don’t fool yourself and think that “spreading awareness” online is any substitute. It isn’t. These activists are outraged, but they don’t care.

You can tweet about the litter all you want, but it’ll still be there until someone picks it up. That’s the difference.

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