Charleston: There so much to be said and so much can be said far better than I can say it about the shootings in Charleston. The most visceral reaction I had to the news though, wasn’t about the tragedy itself; it’s hard to feel things when so many people die so far away, it’s almost too much to process so my brain just takes the information in rationally.
The first thing I felt rotten about was the way that my timeline on twitter lit up with wonderful amazing, thoughtful, sensitive white people giving their two cents about the tragedy. I think that everyone has an opinion and a right to it, but I find there’s a kind of personality that emerges on social media, the person that’s desperate to have something to say about everything, that turns everything into an opportunity to show the world how enlightened they. Very frequently though, I don’t see these same people RTing black voices into their timeline and taking a step back.
I think if you’re an ally, one of the most important things you can do it take your platform and use it to amplify the voices of those directly affected by the problem at hand. It’s a petty thing to complain about, but I worry that our culture has quickly devolved into a stance of myopic inaction. Instead of tweeting, linking, and clicking to help get the word out about causes they are helping, people are just tweeting out. Sitting at home and watching the action on a screen has replaced actually going out and doing things to help.
I’m not denying that there is power in the internet, but it has to be combined with real action, that you do with your mouth and hands and body.
And a note on how to responsibly report on events like this:
POTUS on WTF with Marc Maron: President Obama was a guest on Marc Maron’s podcast and that is super cool. It will be posting today and I have no doubt it will be the most downloaded podcast ever. Aside from being a pinnacle moment in Maron’s career and a super cool thing that POTUS is doing to reach out to people, it has a broader significance. Someone tweeted out “I’m going to be late to work today because the President of the United States is doing a podcast.”
It really says something about the platform that this has happened. It made me think of the first year that bloggers were given a table in the press room at the Democratic National Convention. It was a huge news item that this new thing called blogging was being accepted as real journalism. Little did newspapers at the time realize it, but eventually print would die and most of the journalists there would find themselves writing for blogs or writing at newspapers that were essentially very sophisticated blogs.
It will be interesting to see the trajectory of podcasting with the success of shows like Serial and the popularity of WTF.