Social media is no longer simply a platform to be social on. It has become a platform for advocacy, political debate, social movements and professional development. These platforms have evolved into being areas where nothing is safe and everything is up for debate. It’s where more and more instances of bullying is occurring and where the best and worst of human kind shows itself. Social media platforms are now where people are being more vulnerable all the while being strong in their resolve to be themselves.
I bring this up because I was thinking about when I came out. I announced my freedom from the Closet via Facebook on August 3, 2009. I had told my support group of a few friends a few months before and had told my parents the day before my Facebook announcement (that story to come later). But for the rest of the world, I came out of the closet publicly and blazing rainbows (And if you know me is completely my personality). Since then, I have done my best to be an advocate using my online presence, being very conscious of what I advocate, how I advocate and when. Granted, back then when I first started, social media was just growing in clout and influence in advocacy and debate and we were still trying to figure out if it was for sure going to last beyond the fad phase so it was a bit more flexible and forgiving.
Today,however, more of society, with no regard to issue, are advocating and debating issues and causes but society has become less flexible and forgiving on dialogue. Going even further, more often than not,online debates and dialogue is building the walls higher and closing off need conversations because of online bullying, harassment and somehow thinking we lose our humanity online. However, in the world of a growing digital citizenship, is it not our individual responsibility to help make our online platforms safe for people to embrace our humanity and advocate and debate on?
My answer: YES!
We are transitioning our lives to the digital world. Now, there are a million debates on whether or not this practice in itself is a good thing, however, the reality is that, that is the direction of society at this moment in time. So, why shouldn’t we be held accountable for taking individual and personal responsibility for ensuring a safe place to exist, advocate and debate on in the digital world, as we do in the physical?
(Please let me interject, and point out that, for some people, this is a flipped conversations, and it should be noted that the support provided online should be reflected in person).
Return from tangent 🙂
For those individuals who speak up in person when harassment or bullying occurs, do you speak up on online? For those who help facilitate conversations do you do so online? Do you try and keep conversations civil and respectful online as you may do in person? Do you try and help conversations become dialogue rather than harassment or bullying?
Are these possible and achievable practices? Of course they are. But some of them may take more time and effort online. But just because they take more time and effort does not mean they are less needed.
Over time, I have learned to help guide my online conversations, cool down the hotheads and keep need conversations going with a spirit of education rather than opposition. I’m not perfect nor do I think I’ll ever be, but it’s been very interesting learning process. As June is a month I focus on reflecting and reinvigorating my LGBT advocacy batteries, I wanted to share this wonderment and observation with you and hopefully together we can practice and example the way to advocate and debate as humans and a society to move issues forward online and not bully or harass one another.
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!