I heard a lot of people on Twitter who believed their tweeting about the Davis case constituted activism on the level of the actions, risks and sacrifices (including their lives) made by young Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. A few people actually compared their persistent and passionate tweeting about Troy Davis to lunch counter sit-ins by students in Greensboro, North Carolina and other parts of the South in the 1960s. My response to that line of thinking: don’t be ridiculous. Unless riot cops were waiting outside to bust your head wide open to stop your Troy Davis tweets, just stop it.
Social media activism does not take place while you are on Twitter or Facebook. It’s about more than turning a cause into a trending topic. It’s what you do with your time, money, energy and relationships once you’ve signed off, in the real world, that is the true measure of your activism. Anything less is just smartphone activism, an insult to those, both past and present, who really risked and sacrificed for the causes they believe in. Social media can’t save people. Only active, committed, informed and engaged people can do that.
A sobering reminder.