Should we all be activists? I remember when I went to college in 1995, like many others, I searched for a cause. I was searching for something to care about. I had this image of college as the place where you become active and responsible, but at the same time I was figuring out who I was. So I could see that there were these big global issues in these other places, but there wasn’t anything that I could connect to in a way that made sense to the development of my own identity. It sounds absolutely privileged and selfish, and that is definitely part of it, but at the same time I was a person finding ways to develop, and this was the environment, background, and place that I was at. I remember the pressure to join, to join clubs and groups. I was taking Buddhism courses and my advisor’s speciality was Tibetan Buddhism so I tried joining the Free Tibet movement. However, I was so overwhelmed with the need to connect, I could not actually make a true connection. I did not become an activist in college, but my search to connect continued.
Now there are way more ways to connect than the line of clubs on club day. With all these choices, we need literacies and ways to find the communities that we may want to be a part of or we’ll only hear the loudest of those voices. These loud voices tend to be for and against, yes and no groups, without space for quieter discussions in the in betweens. I found one of those in between spaces to talk about this very thing in a Hangout last Saturday with Autumm Caines, Chuck Pearson, Helen Dewaard, George Station, Chris Gilliard, and Jason Hogan. The GHO followed the first week of organized chats about digital citizenship, but the chat ended up being not so much about the digital, but rather some searching into what surrounds us as citizens. There was some frustration and some fear expressed about how “we” talk about issues and differing viewpoints and getting stuck in the inflexibility of binaries. Autumm spoke about a loss of Dewey’s “amicable discourse”. Chuck Pearson described his experience of how becoming more active online, networking and finding communities, is where his world got larger.
Talking with this group I felt a bit of the anxiety I feel about the possibility of someone who can’t think outside of himself, becoming the leader of the powerful country I live in. There seems to be a lot of “activism” in Brexit and the Drumpf phenomenon, and I continue to try and figure out what my responsibility is in this situation, and where I am adding to a binary conversation. How can we move away from “I’m entitled to my opinion” to a different way of thinking that allows a conversation that doesn’t come with that feeling of a loss of power? How can we allow people to find those things to care about and make part of themselves, but then also feel a connection to something outside of themselves that isn’t just that group who has the same opinion? How do we help inform care and the seeming tornado of emotion that seems to be forming in pockets and growing steadily? How can we all continue to grow our world view?
As I was thinking about these things, I appreciated a post by Javiera Atenas offering some ways to answer some of these questions, that certainly start to make sense of some of the mess that is happening in my own mind. And I look forward to and appreciate the community that has formed and continues to grow and talk around #digciz as a way to continue to develop my activism.
This week the focus is on privacy and I invite you to join in on the conversation.
Image Credit: Adam Simmons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/mr-numb/4753899767