I am more than willing to admit that I often repost things on Facebook regarding a myriad of activism issues that are very important to me, and I'm happy to do so. I've been actively involved in 'real life' volunteer work for years as my schedule allows, but having the internet and social networking as a tool definitely contributes to my being able to reach many more people in a much more efficient way than before. So, I'm used to being met with displeasure or even downright disgust when I post something that's not popular in the mainstream world of parenting. Once in a while, I get a name tossed at me, and a popular choice of insult seems to be 'keyboard activist', complete with dripping cyber-sarcasm. I recently got to thinking about this, and even if I did not do a single bit of 'real life' volunteer work/activism, and was truly *nothing more* than a 'keyboard activist', all I could come up with was, "SO?"
What immediately leaps to mind to me are a few things I see all the time on Facebook which are generally accepted with a lack of the bitter distaste that 'keyboard activism' seems to receive. Here, I offer them for you to consider, and to all of you fellow 'keyboard activists': keep up the good work, friends! Minds are enlightened, babies are saved, children are empowered and families are strengthened, because you take the time to share your informed words and resources instead of, for example:
1. Facebook-stalking your ex: Oh, yes, I know. YOU'VE never done it. Well, um, neither have I! But knowing that it is a totally common, generally harmless and sometimes incredibly tempting thing to do, people seem to laugh or roll their eyes at most of the curious Facebook-stalking-of-exes going on. Or they condemn it after they've made sure to delete their cookies, fingers crossed that the latest "check out who's viewed your profile!" was just another scam. Either way, spreading awareness about important human rights issues cannot POSSIBLY be considered a bigger waste of time, right?
2. Tagging your friends in unflattering photos: All right, this one is just blatantly worse than 'keyboard activism'! COME ON. It's downright mean. And I'm not on a soapbox about it because of that awful picture of me with seriously visible granny-panty lines that I quickly untagged. . . . and then was RE-TAGGED IN. . . . . but while I'm at it, people: don't do that! If someone removes your tag, don't re-tag them! Just, NO.
3. Farmville obsession: To be fair, I really don't think there is anything wrong with those games. I've never gotten into playing one, but they sure don't hurt anybody. Of course, they don't really accomplish anything either, so if you want to be technical about it, there is certainly praise to be sung about all the resource sharing that is absent on Mafia Wars or Pot Farm. Just sayin'.
4. Drunk Facebooking: We're all human, and I'm not going to pretend I haven't been introduced to a fine blended drink in this life, myself. But drinking and Facebook don't necessarily equal a win (at least not simultaneously). Most of the collateral damage I've seen has been hurt feelings or sheer mortification-- which can't be said with that oh-so-offensive 'keyboard activism'-- but it can even go beyond that. Let's face it: it's bad enough to update your status saying, "geetin myy drink ooooooon with muh GIRLZZZ!!!! Dont be a playahata!hahahahaaaaaa! WOOOOOOOOO!", but it's even worse to follow it up with a slideshow of a jello shot-induced frenzy where you pose for photos that suggest your glassy-eyed self is about to lick your BFF's boob or something. Oh yeah, we've all seen those photo albums posted at 3 AM from someone's iPhone, and we've probably all had the decency to at least cringe for our pals (before we start tagging away). On the other hand, I haven't ever felt embarassed the next day after speaking out about autonomy or discipline without violence.
5. Trolling: If I could write some holy commandments for Facebook, somewhere on there would be "Thou shalt not troll the activist pages". Online activism is, by leaps and bounds, a better investment of one's time than being a total asshat to a group of human rights advocates. Take the Circ-list folks, for example. That dude that keeps revising Wikipedia's circumcision section clocks some serious hours just trying to perpetuate the availability of misinformation getting out there. And on Facebook, you don't need to look far to find more disgusting, vile, hate-mongering pages than you'd be able to stomach in a lifetime. However, while most people often won't even take the three and a half seconds it takes to report a completely offensive page that deliberately does nothing but make fun of, for example, dead babies or the mentally impaired, the same people can often be seeing berating 'keyboard activists' because, well, dagnabbit, they just keep posting those darn old posts about equal rights for everyone. That doesn't compute for me, but then again, as the saying goes, "You can't make sense out of nonsense", right?
I guess you all get the picture here. I'll end the rant and let it go, but I know there are other people out there who must have had the same thoughts floating around in their heads. If you're a proud online activist who feels fed up with the backlash, you know that at least I'm on your side. If I have to drunkenly tend a cyber-farm while posting half-nudie pics and maintaining phony hate pages just to fit in or be accepted without negative feedback, I'd rather be a solitary, nerdy keyboard activist.