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- by Kaitlyn Neath

Lately I've found myself submersed in the turbulent waters of social media "discussion" – the seething comment sections of all things Trumpian; the endless transgender debate; the necessity of Black Lives Matter; Indigenous rights; the Pride Parade; the confederate flag, (WHY WHY WHY are people flying this in Canada?) – basic ignorant nonsense.
Immigrant and indigenous children have been separated from their parents. That is devastating and the cause of inter-generational trauma, ensuring mass mental health repercussions. Yet there's a whole camp of people who simply think, "Too bad. They shouldn't have went to that country." Or in regards to the 60's scoop, "It happened a long time ago. Not my fault. Not my problem." As if these issues aren't complex at all. As if children's lives are expendable and don't matter.
This morning I heard on the radio that in Quebec, health Minister Gaétan Barrette is perpetuating the myth that Inuit people are all a bunch of drunks. (UGH) He doesn't think they should be allowed to board air ambulances with their children. (Are you kidding me!?)
What the f--- is happening!?
It is painfully evident that despite social advancement, bigotry and racism lives on. The question isn't really "what's happening," as much as "why is this STILL happening?" Even more disturbing is the discovery that these people aren't just outlying numbers, scattered through obscure internet chatrooms. They're on my Facebook and other social media accounts. They populate my "friends" lists. I see them on the streets of my hometown. And you know what? They NEVER talk about these things in public. They are kind, charming neighbours, always willing to lend a hand, smiling and waving as they walk past. And it angers me. I'm pissed off at their falsity; that their "niceness" is a farce. But you know what else? I'm thankful for knowing. It makes it a lot easier to cut these jerks out of my life. (FYI if you fall into this category and have lashed out at me online, prepare for an uncomfortable conversation when we meet face-to-face, because I won't just hide behind a screen.)
If it weren't for social media, I wouldn't know rampant hatred. I wouldn't be furious at its existence. It would feel like something far away – at least far from my social circle, (or my little white bubble of privilege.)
Recently I published an interview with Richard-Yves Sitoski for our Artist's in Activism series, wherein he states that he believes that "dialogue is dead." I've given that statement a lot of thought. And he's right. Essentially, we are all "preaching to the choir." And when our sermons do happen to fall upon the opposition's ears, they go in, and then they go out.
So I'm resigning as a "keyboard warrior."
I can't change your mind, or anyone else's. Unless you are a parent, teacher, or other molder of young minds, you're probably not making much of a difference either. (And if you are in that position please, PLEASE, try to help these kids become decent human beings. Teach them that it's okay to not have all of the answers and for goodness sake, don't EVER laugh at them when they don't!) Adults love to argue and are ashamed to be wrong. For the most part, grown-ups don't even care about facts. They only feed their cognitive biases and search for information that coincides with their belief set. Even if that information only exists in one small article, they will hold it as truth against hundreds of studies in favour of the opposition. Basically you can't fight illogical rhetoric with logic, because the illogical mind doesn't care. A fight against apathy can never be won. Seriously, we're staring into the face of, "meh," followed by a, "you mad bro?" (AM I EVER!)
But I'm Done Fighting
Maybe I'm still a social (justice) media warrior of sorts, but you won't find me arguing in attempt to change anyone's mind. I'm over the battle of egos. It's time to put my words where they count and I hope that you will join me. When you see an ignorant comment on your social media account, try some of these tactics instead:
IGNORE & BLOCK
The first and probably most important step, is to just not respond to these posts. It's not doing anybody any good and it's eating up your precious time – time that you could be spending making a tangible difference.
WRITE YOUR MP & MPP
Even if your local politicians don't care about the social issues you are passionate about, they do care about losing votes. Voter's opinions matter. WRITE WRITE WRITE and encourage your friends to do the same.
WRITE TO YOUR LOCAL NEWS OUTLETS
Not necessarily to change anyone's mind, (as stated above, that is rarely effective.) But writing to a local news outlet can serve as an effective tool to raise awareness to an issue and help like-minded individuals come together in support of a cause.
If you live in Owen Sound, The Owen Sound Hub is a good place to start!
TAKE TO THE STREETS
Again, we're not trying to change anyone's mind here, but creating a lot of noise will draw attention to the issue and put pressure on local authorities.
START AN ACTIVIST GROUP
Instead of spending time arguing with the opposition, spend that time conversing with peers who care about the same issues you do. Draft letters together, plan events, be productive!
So I'm not really done fighting.
I'm just not giving in to the apathy of social media land. "The people's revolution is (not) going to be a podcast."


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