Reappropriate: The Podcast – Ep. 6 | Is Digital Activism “Real” Activism?

September 9, 2014

Episode 6 of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now live! This episode features a great conversation between myself and Cayden Mak (@Cayden) of 18MillionRising. We talk identity formation in an increasingly digital age, as well as digital tools as one of several tools in an activist toolbox. We briefly touch on the Stephen Salaita controversy in relation to the perils of when digital activism crosses over into the real-world.

You can stream the video and audio of episode 6 using YouTube above (subscribe to my channel to be notified of new episodes), listen to just the audio using the mp3 player below, or download the podcast for your iPod or iPhone through the iTunes Store.

Next episode: Please join me in two weeks’ time when I hope to have a conversation about the third rail in AAPI politics: interracial dating. Guests are still being scheduled, so episode time and link are TBA.

Audio Only:

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  • Rebelwerewolf

    It’s taken me several days to get through half of this episode (I listen to it in the shower), so here are my thoughts on the 1st half.

    Even though it’s far less anonymous than it used to be, the internet is still a good place to craft an identity that might be different from what people see every day. For example, my Facebook friends are mostly people I’ve met in real life, and my Facebook activity is mostly limited to Liking and posting pictures of food or pets. I try not to get too political or social justice-y on Facebook because I grew up in the South, and a lot of my childhood friends are quite conservative. On the other hand, it has helped me interact with some acquaintances who grew up to be quite awesome. My Twitter is the opposite, where I didn’t even follow real-life friends for the longest time, because I participated in a lot of very political and social justice-y discussions. I’ve had white real-life friends complain that I’m being unfair to white people in my tweets, and it never ends well.

    I just got to the part where you two are talking about using social media to organize real-life activism. I don’t believe online activism can be dismissed outright, and I think the people dismissing it either have a bias against technology or youth. The internet is easily the best avenue for disseminating information to a large number of people. It can be very good at fundraising (examples: ice bucket challenge or GoFundMe), very good at collecting signatures for a petition, and very good at planning real-life events (example: vigils for Mike Brown). To be effective, there needs to be a goal beyond “share this”, whether it’s donating or registering to vote.

    Hopefully I’ll get through the rest of this episode before your next one. I can already tell that that one will be… contentious. Have you read the book Dataclysm by Christian Rudder? I’m not sure what to think about it. On the one hand, data is good, but on the other hand, data that helps people confirm their biases can clearly be used for evil.

    I just read a few articles about it today, and this paragraph from the Washington Post stuck out:

    People may say, for example, that they don’t have racial preferences in dating. But the data from OkCupid messages shows quite starkly that people are apt to contact romantic prospects from their own racial group. And it suggests that the real racial divide, as far as online dating goes, isn’t between white and non-white, but between black and non-black.

    Full article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-dataclysm-a-look-at-human-behavior-by-christian-rudder/2014/09/11/a9c522e8-248f-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html

  • Hopefully I’ll get through the rest of this episode before your next one. I can already tell that that one will be… contentious.

    Yeah, I know. :p

    The internet is easily the best avenue for disseminating information to a large number of people.

    It can be a good avenue for disseminating information, but at least one thing jumps to mind: there is still a basic privilege associated with whom you are reaching through the internet. The internet is going to be used as a tool for social justice by people of certain base income, and with a certain base education. On Twitter, you’re not necessarily reaching just random bunches of people; you are reaching a filtered bunch of people. Do we spend enough time thinking about that?

    If you make it to the end (and thank you for your tenacity!), I think you’ll see that at the end of the podcast, we conclude that the internet is a good tool when used thoughtfully. There’s no reason to dismiss it outright; there’s also no reason to treat it like a panacea. It has strengths and drawbacks. What I worry is that there is a balkanization right now surrounding digital tools; few people are willing to have a measured opinion on it. Either you’re supposed to love it or hate it, and few people who believe in it seem willing to criticize its weaknesses and vice versa.

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