Another line of inquiry arising from the discussion of my response to “Ban the Burka” involves the question of whether or not social media, particularly Facebook, is an appropriate avenue for such topics. Here are my thoughts:
Whether or not social media is an appropriate avenue for these topics is indeed a big question. Whatever the answer to that question – the fact remains that social media is saturated with images and opinions on pretty much every topic one can dream up. Billions of pieces of information are traded every day. Every single thing we view or share affects us and the world around us in some way.
Research into human Herd Mentality has revealed that it takes only a 5% minority to influence a crowd’s direction. The other 95% will follow without even realizing it. The implications of this are even more profound when we throw into the mix, the “point & click” response patterns that are so prevalent in online communications.
It terrifies me to think that we would hold each other less accountable for what we put out into the world because it only happened on Facebook. It terrifies me even more that we click & share so much influence without proper analysis or attention to where it comes from and the ideologies it supports.
The experience of oppression occurs as a result of attitudes, beliefs, feelings, assumptions, and actions – regardless of the intent of the oppressor. So, while it may be true that a person’s intent in sharing a particular image or opinion is not rooted in a desire to oppress – intent does not negate the effect that the image or opinion has on those who are hurt by it.
The fact is that if an image or opinion is shared on social media, then social media has become an avenue for the topic, whether we like it or not. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to be in our integrity with what we put out there. We’re bound to screw it up sometimes. I pray that we will continue to hold each other accountable, have courageous conversations, learn, grow, and evolve as a result.