I use social media a lot and incorporate it into my brand of activism. I try to stay “plugged in” and on the pulse of what’s current in the world of disability rights. My interests often tend to pique a bit more at the nexus of race and gender. There are many different brands of activism because the disability community is composed of so many varied experiences. I can’t tell you how much interacting with like-minded folks and folks who may not be in the know at all -locally and across the globe has benefited my activism and helped raise awareness through technology alone.
The internet has revolutionized advocacy efforts for disability community. Many of us who have access and have basic computer skills can comment, share, “like” and/or “follow” etc all from wherever it is that you have a WiFi or dial-up connection (yes, there are a small number of folks still using dial-up) and for many of us this is right from our homes. Bear in mind that web accessibility is a privilege that is not equally afforded globally.
That’s why when I hear the term “slacktivism” or “hashtag activism” it unnerves me a bit knowing how reductive these labels are. It’s become all too easy to slap labels on someone’s back instead of learning their backstory. As if merely sharing information can’t be used to spark thought, ignite change, and move others to action.
You don’t know why someone might be limited to using social media only nor do you need to really because when you’re focused on your own contributions there’s little time to analyze others so critically. Whether it’s a facet of their brand of advocacy or the only methodology in use is still a contribution. Work/life balance, passion, skills, comfort-level, etc are elements that factor in and fluctuate at various points in one’s life and each person’s set of metrics is prioritized differently.
I recall earlier years as an advocate and how “green” I was to the process when I joined my first board and the assumptions seasoned advocates made about knowledge, life-experience, worldview, sensitivity-levels, and even how meetings are run. I had no idea what the hell “Roberts Rules of Order” were and it felt like a secret that no one bothered to fill me in on. So when I note that quizzical look from newer advocates who might be in a similar state of quandary I try to aid in decreasing the learning curve.
What each person is willing to contribute whether in time, action, experience, skills/knowledge, etc can be transformative and have a radius of impact sometimes immediate and more often measured over time.
So whether you participate in protest marches, petition drives, parent mindfully, practice speaking up, out, and in favor of disability rights, lend moral support to others who do, show up unapologetically , etc realize that they are all brands of activism which serve a purpose.
Do what you have the ability to do when you have the want and spoons to do it because the truth is, there really is no hierarchy in activism and don’t allow others to guilt you in to believing otherwise.