Friday, January 10, 2014

Check Yo Privilege!

What I really want to tell you today is that I am two thirds of the way through my graduate degree program and this week was the first time that privilege was mentioned in a class (other than courses that were specifically constructed around discussions of privilege). The class in mention is social media strategy and the discussion that privilege is not a center piece in every classroom from preschool to Ph.D will be left for a later post. Today, I am interested in the role of social media in social and political movements and want to look at what it is capable of as well as where it is failing.

There is no doubt that information sharing between those with access to social media tools is at an all-time high. I can cite various examples of how social media is being used to sway politics, social justice movements, and change hearts and minds over divisive issues through compassionate campaigns. This time four years ago, the Red Cross crushed all other text to donate campaigns by bringing in $112 million in 48 hours for relief in Haiti, even surpassing their previous campaigns for Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami disasters. But is social media the be all end all of communication? There are some that will say yes and that there is no more powerful tool to disseminate information to mass audiences. On the other hand, as a nonprofit professional I know that  human connection is the most powerful tool to create social change and that it is hard to do through a computer screen.

Ryan Holiday, published author  and media strategist, recently wrote an article articulating (better than I) the disparities and privilege that exist in social media. Ryan writes that it is not just access to social media tools that separates, rather "digital literacy." There are those of us that have the privilege of free time to maintain a constant presence online as well as some ability to navigate the constant barrage of bullshit "news" thrown at us. There are others that live very far outside of this though and receive  information from other less worthy news sources via Facebook or Twitter. This type of misinformation is bound to have some harrowing effects concerning public opinion and ideals if it is viewed as legitimate.

I love what the internet has to offer by way of entertainment, mass communication, and its ability to answer every one of my stupid questions (seriously, you should see my google search history). I enjoy it so much, but that is because I am a fairly literate internet user. I am able decipher the good, the bad, and the total bullshit (mostly) and I can see how being digitally less literate could skew my perception and ideas.

SUBJECT CHANGE: I tend to be a bit heavy handed and discuss "hard" stuff that most people don't want to hear/think/speak about. It's cool...I understand. It is not easy or comfortable to constantly think about our privileges or the ills of society. This is why I will end each of my blog posts with a humorous antidote from my everyday life and probably an adorable photo of my kittens.

 Last night I had derby practice and I had already worked out once before during the day. When I got home I ate and decided it best to just sleep on the couch because I was far too lazy to shower and my wife gets angry with me when I come to bed smelly. I knew that this blog needed to be done today so it still took me until the middle of the day to shower. Moral of this story? I am a hot mess most of the time.
This is mostly what my life looks like...cuddling my sweet wife and covered in cats.

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