Merging Digital Literacy With Physical Presence
Digital literacy is a powerful tool, but it can also fall short when it comes to real change. Facebook and Twitter are effective in organizing and spreading messages like wild fire, but they can also keep us from getting outside where the work needs to be done. How do we merge our social media presence with our physical presence? Despite older generations giving millennials crap about being slackers who want freebies, millennials are living activism in their everyday behaviors. Joe Kessler of The Intelligence Group says that, “Millenials view social activism much more as it relates to their overall persona then the generations before them. Our research indicates they are significantly engaged…[Their social activism] is insinuated in every aspect of their lives.”
Protesting is the marketing aspect of activism. It is the loudest way to get a message across and it is absolutely necessary. If people don’t know what’s wrong, how can anything change? The driven people organizing and marching in protests are not getting paid. Protesting takes its toll and it is very important that if you are a frequent protestor to get self-care in: sleep, eat, rest, take breaks from social media, and connect with supportive friends.
It is a personal choice to attend a protest. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about the cause if you don’t. It may mean that you are needing to take care of other things first. We cannot take care of others until we take care of ourselves first. Do you need to go to work? Do you have a little one who needs you to tuck them into bed? These are all legitimate reasons for not attending a protest. Feeling guilty about not being active in protests will just keep you in a state of feeling isolated and paralyzed. There are other things you can do.
For those who cannot attend protests here are some things to do and think about:
You can make intentional choices about where you shop. VOTE WITH YOUR MONEY.
Research the grocery stores in your area to buy from the most ethical place. Join a food co-op. By doing this you protest the horrible practices of the agricultural industry. You protest the mistreatment of our land and animals. Buy food in bulk. Yes, Wal-Mart and Safeway are less expensive, but if you want to make a difference, think about your groceries as an investment. Buy local and organic as much as possible.
Where are you buying your clothes? Are you buying a new shirt just because it’s cute, and you already have ten other cute shirts?Are you wearing your shoes out until the fall apart? It’s time to really assess need vs. want. If you truly desire to put your money where your mouth is, you would start investing in brands, companies, and organizations who you really want to support. You can start making positive changes as simple as what toothpaste you’re buying – deodorant, makeup, toilet paper, etc.
Are you buying plastic water bottles? You can protest companies like Coca-Cola and Nestle who sell bottled water, by simply never buying bottled water, and never accepting bottled water. This is a poor use of natural resources and creates unnecessary plastic waste. Water bottle sales are going down. Let’s keep it that way and start advocating for water in every home in America. Check out the Water Keeper Alliance who are advocating for clean water.
Protest when you go out to eat. Bring your own container. Just like bringing your own cloth bag to the grocery store, bring your own to-go container. If you must use their to-go container ask if it is made out of styrofoam. Consider whether saving those fries is worth burying styrofoam into the ground.
You know what I’ve noticed lately? Canadians have got it going on in terms of social responsibility and ethically sourced products. Have you heard of Nau? They create premium apparel that blends technical performance and modern design, crafted from sustainably sourced materials.
Want to show your support for Black Lives Matter?
Join ForWARD (For White Accountability in Racial Dialogue) on Facebook and they will have endless reading for you to digest, as well as opportunities to attend workshops and meetings.
You can also join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) on Facebook in the area that you live in.
BUY LOCAL AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, MAKE ETHICAL FOOD CHOICES
As mentioned previously, it is ideal to buy local as much as possible. If you are ordering something online, decide if it’s really necessary, or if you can wait to get it locally. You want to consider the oil and other resources that were required to ship that product. Get this book and read it.
Learn about horrible companies like Monsanto and why they are horrible. Educate yourself and sift through the greenwashing noise. Whole Foods Market supports Monsanto products and covers up GMO contamination with perpetuating “natural” fraud. They don’t label all their GMO products and fail to educate their customers about the qualitative difference between natural and certified organic. According to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association, “nearly all processed “natural” foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or come from a “natural” supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”
Ethical food choices are all around us, but we need to be active in our search and genuine in our efforts. Here is a great resource to find information, get active and know the issues: http://www.foodispower.org/ethical-food-choices/. There is a comprehensive list of reading at the end of this linked page.
Be weary. Be very weary. Tom Philpott can enlighten you to the Age of GMO industry self regulation.
Concerned about women’s rights and feminism? Of course you are, you’re reading this on Terra Incognita - an ecofeminist lens to the outdoors. Donate or join the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Concerned about police violence? Join Campaign Zero. Their website is incredibly beautiful and informative.
Concerned about Native Americans and tribes? Here is an organization you may have not heard of. The Native American Rights Fund (NARF) has a lot of great information.
Learn more about the politics of environmental issues and support Earth Justice.
Protest transphobia and help protect trans rights by supporting the Sylvia River Law Project (SRLP).
Support She Should Run, an organization that aims to expand the pool of future elected female leaders.
Worried about the rights of low-income immigrants? Support the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).
If you're in Portland, Oregon donate or volunteer with the Raphael House, which is a mulit-faceted domestic violence agency dedicated to ending intimate partner violence for good.
Listen to those who came before you. Systems are in place to prevent change. There are people in power who do not want a disruption of the status quo. Seek out mentors who are active in social change to inform your approach.
Be strategic. If you take to the streets make sure you tell a friend you are with your full name, DOB, and emergency contacts. Arrange a meeting spot if you are separated. If you are vocal, be prepared to possibly find youself are on an official’s radar. This shouldn’t scare you away from action, but this should prepare you to truly understand all of the facets of protesting.