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Why keyboard warring is crucial to societal change, and how we can take it further offline.

Photo by Mirah Curzer on Unsplash

Photo by Mirah Curzer on Unsplash

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why everyone hates “Keyboard Warriors”.

You know, the fed-up, hard to please, (mostly) millennials and generation Zers with zero tolerance for social injustice and misogyny usually venting their frustration in twitter threads and Instagram comments?

Yea. What’s so dislikable about us?

All of us: polemicists, ready to attack at even the smallest semblance of toxic masculinity or bigotry; we are the new wave, and now it’s time for you to get onboard. Whatever homophobic, islamophobic thing you may have tweeted eight years ago that you thought was going to remain undiscovered, believe me, we are going to find it. And when we do, may God have mercy on whoever sponsors the platform you appear on.

Much like the generation before me, there was a time when I too dismissed (and somewhat resented) the freedom to air grievances via the internet. After all, “How productive could ranting into public forums really be?” I thought. But as time moves on, it is now my suspicion, that the only people who could have disdain for such a movement are those perfectly comfortable with a lack of accountability.

I don’t deny that internet crusading has its flaws. Twitter, in particular, is not a space for the faint of heart. We’re all just one well-intended, but poorly executed statement away from exile. Accidentally like a post with misinformation, mishandle your 280 character limit, and you can be kissing your seat at society’s ‘cool table’ goodbye forever along with your job and status.

Yes, it’s that serious.

Which is exactly why social media’s position of power is undeniable, having created both conversation and more importantly, accountability.

In this year alone, from internet dubbed, “Barbecue Becky” and “Permit Patty”, to viral videos of racist New York lawyers screaming at employees for speaking Spanish, justice is only beginning to be served- and we’re the ones serving it.

Only a week ago, at the height of the Blasey-Ford vs. Kavanaugh case, the bravery and boldness of two sexual assault survivors, one of whom was only 23 years old confronted Senator Jeff Flake face-to-face in an elevator. This being the first time she’d ever spoken publicly about her assault, even as her mother, completely unaware of the trauma her daughter had faced looked on, her courage was not to be dismissed or undermined.

And this past month, I myself, called out bigotry to its face in the workplace; Live, in person and for the very first time!

Let me assure you that the moment was nothing short of liberating to watch the face of the guilty party redden and fall in shock at the reality that their card had been pulled for exactly what it was: racist. To think that I would have never known such empowerment without the backing of my internet peers who, even now, remain unaware of the courage that they gave me. But that was my moment. When will you seize yours?

Face it, as much as we would like to repudiate the power of online camaraderie, there’s something to be said about the feeling that comes from knowing you have 336 million monthly active users backing your decision to call out injustice in the real world. But while I have no doubt that social media is an excellent place to start, additionally I have no doubts that it would be the worst place to end.

With November around the corner, it’s now time to find ways to take crusading for equality and for justice offline as well. Social media activism is nothing without grassroots action and transforming any storm can only occur from the eye of it.

So how do we get our hands dirty and not just our twitter fingers? To quote, Booker T. Washington, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” In Layman’s terms, begin with exactly what you have access to today!

Don’t just complain about the wages that teachers are paid, participate on your local school board. Your local city council needs you! And no, you are not too young or too old to consider running for political office.

Starting where you are will always be the key. Don’t be in such a rush to get to Washington that you forget about your small Mississippi hometown. A real artist is never so awestruck by the big picture that he or she forgets to respect each tiny brushstroke it takes to create a masterpiece. Do your homework on what it really takes to make this government work- beginning wherever your two feet are currently planted.

No. It’s not the time to quit on keyboard warring, but it’s definitely time to move from only protest toward meaningful action. After all, screaming at things rarely change them. And the good news is, that It’s quite possible to multi-task. Call out those bigots online and in real life all while remembering Shirley Chisolm’s words, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.”

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Opinion // Midterms / Social Media / Voting