So amongst other things, I host a weekly show on community radio, and on my last show I spoke about how, partly due to the evolution of social media a
So amongst other things, I host a weekly show on community radio, and on my last show I spoke about how, partly due to the evolution of social media and the proliferation of media content platforms, there is an increasing amount of fact based or pseudo-fact based output that is prejudicial, and that incites conflict of one kind or another, often under the guise of impartial information dissemination. After this week’s show, I was still thinking about how, even with the best of intentions, we can end up inflicting violence upon each other.
We do this now primarily through our devices with memes, videos, and stories that irk us and offend our sensibilities. We do this earnestly. We do this because we want to make each other ‘woke’ and aware.
We do this in part because many of us strive to, in some small way, keep in check the politics, rhetoric, and ideologies that hurt, divide and negatively influence us all, by informing each other of what we see as a danger to harmony, freedom, empowerment, and even enlightenment. A consequence of this desire to make things better is that we end up contributing to a greater and faster dissemination of emotional, cultural, psychological violence, which ultimately impacts us all.
Beyond this, and because of the consistency of the delivery that we are contributing to, we are inadvertently normalising the presence and pervasiveness of said violence, and those who would perpetrate it. What is even more frightening is that the existence of the perpetrators of this violence upon us, and the words and actions that they put out into the public domain, is then further legitimised by the sheer weight of this constant assault on our both our individual and collective consciousness.
Yet, we each have a responsibility to raise awareness of the issues that affect us and our communities, and to say nothing about the destructive forces that may align against us is not only neglectful, but also lends our consent to the perpetrators. We have to keep each other informed in order to fight the injustices of this world, right?
It has been through the spreading of information, particularly through social media, that the mobilisation of people has occurred in reaction to the apathy, inaction, or wrong actions of those whom we entrust to protect and defend us, and has also allowed for those who have previously been ignored to find and express their voices.
In order for us to help ourselves and each other to make this world a better, fairer, more equitable place to coexist, and to leave something of merit for future generations, we need to find or create pathways to access the power needed to affect change. This is our duty to each other, and the only way to make this happen is to keep each other informed and up to date on what’s really going on, so that we are all empowered with knowledge.
Then there are the huge events that have seismic repercussions. The ones that instantly affect the mood on entire nations, or even the world as a whole. The ability of these events to inflict wounds on our psyche cannot be underestimated. The fallout from these occurrences ranges from increased mistrust to paranoia, and influences how we interact with each other, how we view those seen as ‘other’, and how we observe the infringements upon us all that we allow and even lend our support to, that then become policy. These events facilitate the dehumanisation of those that we fear or see as less worthy of our compassion and respect, and lend justification to those that would use these circumstances to employ previously intolerable methods to deal with, even at the expense of dignity, rights, or in some cases life, people who are deemed to be a problem, and it also serves to absolve all of us for not holding those with the power to affect positive change to account.
All of these things inflict continual assaults on us all, and to make it clear, an assault is an act of violence, whether it be physical, emotional, psychological, or even spiritual. So, in order to offset the occurrences of these assaults, we keep each other informed through the news, posts, blogs, clips etc… But by informing each other, we share posts and tweets that feed more of this jarring content to each other, and thus we inflict more violence.
There seems to be a heaviness that pervades the air, and a quiet tension that we all feel, but try to ignore, that prompts us to be guarded so as to self protect from the next thing – the new story, the shocking tweet, the outrageous remark made by someone in power, the disturbing clip that gives insight into the intelligence behind a stream of hateful ideology, the meaningless physical altercations that are paraded as entertainment, the…
Is this the price of being woke?
We cannot evolve beyond the experiences that we can neither escape nor see past, and I don’t think that binary thinking will provide a way forward, oftentimes it serves to justify the status quo. There is no easy, neat, convenient answer, though maybe acknowledging this is a start. We could also give recognition to the fact that these seemingly benign actions that we all participate in lend themselves to emotional and other types of violence. Another action that we can take is to be more selective and frugal about the type of content that we share with each other, and through this lessen the violence that we unintentionally visit upon each other.
Once we can give recognition to this phenomenon, we can collectively work towards finding a way forward that doesn’t just provide a band aid to the wounds. We may even find a way to disseminate information crucial to fighting the evils of this world without doing more harm.
I am hopeful….