On Ferguson, Garner & Social Media
Haven’t written in forever but there are things I want to say that can’t be encapsulated in a tweet. I constantly battle with my love/hate of social media. I like the community it can provide, the connections to people you can’t see because of distance or to those you would never be able to meet. It seems to be necessary for most artists these days in order to cultivate an audience. The downside is the extraordinary spike in narcissistic behavior, the unquenchable need for more attention and validation, the dumbing down of our cultural dialogue and the inability to sustain focus for long periods of time.
Then a sea change like Ferguson and Garner comes along and I have no idea what to say or how to engage. I’m horrified by the injustice and I stand with this protest movement that is happening across the country but almost everything I read on Twitter drives me insane. Nowadays we engage on social media over these issues but I can’t help feeling the dialogue is mostly air, mostly noise and mostly self-serving like nearly everything else.
On what planet is a viral hashtag of a dying man’s last words not tremendously disturbing? I see that and I think, this is about the person tweeting, not about the man who died. We use hashtags to find content and for other people to find ours but on Twitter that happens with or without a hashtag. I find the hashtag phenomenon to be incredibly reductive when not used strictly for information. It bothers me so much to see Eric Garner’s last words trending as a hashtag. It makes me not want to engage at all but that’s not the answer either.
How do we use social media responsibly, ethically, positively? I don’t know. Most of what I read is trite, banal and sounds the same as everything else. I don’t know how to have an original, thoughtful voice on social media but what I know for sure is that I don’t want to add my voice to the pointless chatter.