Using Your Voice for Good
Wow, I forgot how much I truly detest the cesspool of comment engagement on Facebook. It was a momentary lapse of reason that compelled me to leave that comment on Heather Cox Richardson’s early morning post. Heather, a renowned political historian and author, writes daily about the intersection of the current state of affairs here in America and our history.
In a recent writing, Heather was especially poignant as she shared her thoughts for the coming year and summarized the major events of 2022. I typically read her posts and move on because I have no desire to engage in comment wars. This morning, however, was different. Perhaps I was lost somewhere between my own reflections of the past year that I began typing a comment as if I was writing only to Heather, sharing my concern that the threat to our democracy by extremist Christians entrenched in the Republican Party is very real.
Without giving the comment any more thought, I began writing. Almost immediately, my phone began lighting up, notifying me that people were responding to my comment.
Dear Lord, what have I done?
It isn’t that I don’t engage in dialogue on social media. Have you heard of TikTok and Instagram? Well, they’re kind of my jam, so head on over there and see for yourself the robust conversations happening, and I’m right in the middle of them. The direct messages continue to flood in daily as well, so my bucket of social media engagement is quite full.
Keyboard warrior-ing has become so mainstream that some people do it as if it was their job. Not me—I’m not about to get into a heated back-and-forth with some internet sleuth, probably sitting in their recliner, wrapped in a couple of blankets and fueled by a steady stream of caffeine from coffee kept hot by a battery-powered warming mug.
I mean it when I say these keyboard warriors take their job seriously.
Yet here I was at this moment, just waking up in the wee hours of the morning. I posted a comment as if I was speaking directly to Heather, forgetting that the microscope of the social media universe could zero in on that message.
And it was off to the races.
Fortunately, after a few back-and-forth exchanges with a few people offended by my comment, I shut it down. I no longer cared what Carol from West Virginia thought about my comment. More importantly, I had awakened enough to realize that I had fallen for one of social media’s best-known traps—that my bantering with an unknown person online would actually lead to constructive anything.
It doesn’t. It simply doesn’t.
But it’s a great hit of dopamine that mimics a feeling of productivity and leaves the keyboard warrior feeling as if they have conquered a battle that others of lesser ability could only dream of.
You may think that this is overstating the extremely addictive characteristics of being a keyboard warrior. I wish I was, but the truth is that being a keyboard warrior has become a threat to authentic, productive and helpful activism. The engagement convinces you that you’re impacting change, when the truth is, as I remembered once I became fully awake, that people like Carol from West Virginia have zero intentions of changing their minds. Carol and others like her are also addicted to the dopamine hit from the back-and-forth engagement.
Social media can be used for good. That is if we are willing to engage as an informed activist, using information to inspire and inform us which in turn helps us activate our work at the level where we can impact real change.
Forget Carol from West Virginia—what about your local school board who may have just elected an entire fleet of extremist Christians who are at this moment looking at what books will be banned from the school libraries?
Seriously. What about it?
Because the only way that good can prevail, the kind of good that elevates the human condition and dismantles systems of oppression, is that we who desire to intersect our spirituality with our humanness are connected to and informed by wisdom teachers which guides our actions on a local, granular level.
All of this can be summarized in these words…
Then use your voice to impact change.
Just not on your keyboard responding to Carol from West Virginia.
John Legend said it best in his song “If You’re Out There”
If you hear this message, wherever you stand
I'm calling every woman, calling every man
We're the generation
We can't afford to wait
The future started yesterday and we're already late
If you're ready we can shake the world
It starts within
We don't have to wait for destiny
We should be the change that we want to see
Beloved, we are already late.
At another point in history, while we slept,
assuming that our democracy was safe in the hands of our leaders,
extremist Christians entrenched in the Republican Party got a head start.
Their victory is not ensured if we…
and use our voice to impact change for the good of the whole.