Social Media Reform

I started writing this blog to seperate my thoughts, pull apart everything I’m going through- and silence these crazy screaming voices in my head (kidding… not really). Anyway, I’ve yet to veer on the side of social issues but this George Zimmerman trial, combined with all of the violence I’m reading about in Chicago (and in our cities period) is giving me fear and anger like I haven’t felt in a long time- and I need to pull those thoughts apart, straighten them out- and maybe straighten out some people too, while I’m at it.

I live in PG County- suburban Maryland, but I work in Washington DC. And everyday I take the train in to work and navigate my way through the overpriced, tourist filled nightmare that is Union Station. As I walk through, there are big boards everywhere-usually advertising whatever social cause can afford the ads this week. These ads change frequently, but they pack a punch- they want you to care. Whether it’s animals, corn farmers, or the folks who believe the government is out to get us, SOMEBODY wants you to care about their cause. EVERYONE thinks theirs is the most important, everyone wants you to join, and support and protest as much as you can- for THEIR cause. It’s a little exhausting, and frankly, some days I look forward to a good ole orange juice ad or a warning from Metro about cellphone thieves. But I digress…

When I look at those ads, I feel a little guilty- because though they may have good messages, I don’t have time to care about every single one of them. I know that sounds callous- but I’m only one person. For me, caring means action- spreading the word, signing petitions, donating money, writing letters- and maybe even getting my boots on the ground once in a while. So no- as ONE person I don’t have enough time to care about every single group with a tragedy to tell (and there are plenty). But what I do, when I do it- helps. When I put my heart and my support into something, it helps the cause- whatever that cause may be. Now, I know there are folks out there marching on something every day, as well as folks out there just not doing anything for anyone but themselves- that think I’m not doing enough- but those people don’t know me. They don’t know my heart, or my consciousness- they don’t know my story. But they assume that they do- and in doing so, alienate me- and whoever else feels the wrath of their judgement. It’s divide and conquer 101- and it’s happening more and more during this Zimmerman trial.

George Zimmerman is a murderer. I believe this with my whole heart. He shot and killed a child, killed a person just because he wanted to- in my eyes, he is a murderer. And I stand in solidarity with those who want him to get what he deserves. And I believe people want him to get what he deserves. But what I’m seeing, is a lot of people angry about the attention Trayvon Martin is getting because other young men are dying too. They are angry about people having conversations about race in the Trayvon Martin case because black-on-black crime takes place every day. They are dismissive of the fact that people care about Trayvon’s cause because in their minds- THEIR cause is more important. Closing arguments were heard in the Zimmerman case, so today on Facebook and Instagram, many people are blacking out their avis in support of Trayvon and his family. It’s a small gesture of solidarity, a gesture of faith- a gesture of caring. It’s a statement that those people give a fuck- about something other than themselves, even if it’s just for a minute. But everywhere I look, someone is making a joke out of this gesture. They imply that it doesn’t matter, that people won’t care later, that there are other things to be concerned about- and that all of those people blacking out their avis won’t do anything to help the cause beyond that. I’ve seen tweets about how there are kids dying in Chicago from gun violence- over 50 people shot last week, I believe- and how that cause is or should be greater because it’s black on black. I see people from my hometown of Philly, write that they don’t care if Zimmerman gets off because young men are living rougher lives on the streets where I grew up, every day. I see people joke that no one will care about Trayvon next week, or that if Zimmerman gets off, most people will go back to their normal lives the next day. These people may think they have a point- but I think they need to have a seat.

Now I do agree that we need to be better at acting. We need to figure out how to follow up our feelings with actions that can work for us, help us, heal us. But a statement of solidarity is exactly that- a statement. Why begrudge someone a statement? Why in the fuck does it make sense to attack what other people choose to care about? I admitted earlier in this blog that I don’t have time to care about every single cause- I’m sure most people don’t. But if taking two seconds to black out their avi shows that they’re thinking about this cause, why belittle that? How does it serve you self-righteous, soap box standing jerks to make people feel bad for caring about that young man’s life? And who in the entire hell gave you people the right to tell other people what causes should be their concern? How dare you judge the consciousness of someone you don’t even know? It’s sickening, and makes me pretty angry. The other angle to this is that even though I don’t have time to care about EVERY cause, it doesn’t mean I don’t support more than one. People do care about those other things, those other causes. People do care about that baby that got shot accidentally in that car because someone was aiming for her father. People do care about Philly, and Chicago, and Baltimore. People do care. And supporting Trayvon doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten about other young black people who are dying in these streets every day. I haven’t forgotten them. As a woman with five younger brothers and four nephews, I can never forget. As a woman who grew up in South Philly, I can never forget. And if you want to remind people so badly that there are other causes in the world, start a movement of your own. Start a conversation of your own. Tweet about how we can help Chicago, instead of wasting your breath attacking people who may simply be too preoccupied to tweet and Facebook rant like you.

I think that if you have so much time on your hands to pick apart what other people are doing, then you’re not doing enough. Now you may say I’m judging you now- but I figure I’ve earned it since you jerks have judged an entire community of people- most of whom are just trying to channel their fear and anger, who are just trying to make sense out of this child getting murdered. If you’re tearing down people’s support of Trayvon because you feel like your cause is more important, then use your social network to push YOUR cause. Wasting characters and statuses ranting about Trayvon supporters doesn’t shed a speck of light on YOUR cause. But if you’re tearing down people’s support of Trayvon because deep inside you don’t give a fuck about anything but you and you want to spread that selfishness- then get yourself together. All you’re doing is dividing us- and making us easier to conquer.

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