“Are you an Internet activist, or are you a real one?”
By Rebecca Katz
JCUA Teen Programs Coordinator
By questioning recently whether a Facebook post can be counted as activism, Rabbi Joshua Salter, of the Southwest Organizing Program (SWOP), concisely articulated the challenge that has been rattling around my head. Can social media truly be used as an effective tool to create systemic social change? In posting, sharing, and liking on Facebook, are we building a modern movement of youth activists, or we only publicly signaling we are a part of the new cool trend of social consciousness?
It is now cool to care, or to at least appear to do so — nothing is real anymore unless there is evidence on Facebook. Is activism merely following the unnatural, but unstoppable Web-based evolution of our social lives?
To find out, I naturally turned to the very form I am questioning, Facebook, to get some answers from Jewish teen leaders who recently participated in JCUA’s Or Tzedek program.
I am still undecided whether my use of the medium demonstrates the effectiveness of it to facilitate meaningful dialogue or that I have lost the art of phone conversation. Judge for yourself, based on the comments I received:
Emily Isaacson So many people post their beliefs, rationale, and opinions on a wide variety of topics on the Internet. Facebook and the Internet are webs of information that allow people to share and view ideas that are not necessarily the mainstream point of view.
Ilana Esther Not to mention it’s a great way to get younger people involved.
Eliana Glickman [On Facebook] people see what you “like,” so then they click on it and awareness is spread…People now have the idea jammed into their brain. It can’t leave…it’s there in your brain and you know what they’re protesting.
Rebecca Katz Activists can use social media to broadcast instances of injustice that the “mainstream” media ignore. But is Facebook actually creating a counter-narrative of our generation that leads to real change? Or is any effect as ephemeral as a facebook status?