Hello beautiful people! A couple of days ago, I read an article titled ‘The Emergence of Digital Advocacy’ written by Miss Nsatu. In the article, Nsatu brings up 2 different groups of people. Those who ridicule the cause (digital advocacy), and those who recognize and appreciate the level of influence that is driven through digital advocacy. She brought up some really interesting points regarding digital advocacy.
As fate would have it, on my proposed blog topics for the year, I have “Online Activism” listed. Granted, activism and advocacy don’t mean the exact same thing, I thought I might as well write on that now. I left a comment on Nsatu’s article about how I’ve had to unlearn certain ideas I had about digital advocacy. So, to add to the comment under Nsatu’s post, I decided to write this post and share the things I’ve learnt through Digital Advocacy.
The Importance of unlearning
We are a product of our environment. As a child, you rarely have any say in what you learn or what you don’t. Be it guided or unguided learning. If you live in a house where everyone believes in ‘A’, the chances of you believing in ‘A’ are very high. If you are in a house that believes “women shouldn’t go to school” you end up learning and believing that. Sometimes not by choice but simply because of the fact that that is your environment.
There are a lot of lines of thought that become a part of who we are, simply because of who we are constantly surrounded by. That’s learning. Unguided, to be specific. As we get older, it’s very important to choose to learn things for ourselves. Go back and read why certain things are the way they are.
If you grew up in a household where you think “women shouldn’t go to school”, you have to question that. Ask yourself why that is and be open to unlearning. Unlearn certain ideas you have about women, unlearn certain ideas you have about digital advocacy. I used to think digital advocacy didn’t really do anything and I had to unlearn that.
Unlearning is something that one has to be open to. Be willing to discover that what you actually thought was right, actually isn’t.
Question Your Bias
Ask yourself why you think what you do or why you support what you do. Sometimes, we unknowingly lean towards or against certain topics because of our bias. Find out what your biases are and question them.
There are very few things that annoy me in life more than someone being so loud about an uninformed opinion. If you’re going to advocate for something, you must understand what you are advocating for. Don’t just join things because it seems “trendy” to you. You might end up doing more harm than good.
I have seen people fight tooth and nail against certain movements and when you hear their explanations as to why they disagree with the movement, you can easily tell they haven’t done any research and they don’t know what is really going on. This goes hand in hand with being willing to unlearn. If you aren’t willing to unlearn, you will definitely have a problem relearning.
It’s important to be educated on topics so that you aren’t giving false information. If you’re going to be loud for a cause, make sure you actually know about it. Ignorance is definitely not bliss. Being loud and wrong isn’t fun either.
Check your privilege
I always knew some people were more privileged than others but I never thought of it widely. Digital advocacy has shown me that some people will be against certain causes simply because they are privileged to not suffer under the hands of what is being fought against.
An example is how some men will fight the feminist agenda simply because they benefit from the patriarchy. They will speak against it from a place of privilege.
It’s very important to check AND acknowledge your privilege. Especially if you’re going against something people are advocating for.
Some people aren’t worth the energy
Another thing I’ve come to learn through digital advocacy or online activism is that arguing with some people and trying so hard to get them to understand you, or see things the way you do, is not worth it. That energy can be positively used elsewhere.
If someone has made up their mind and has settled for their ill-informed opinion, then just let them be. Some people may disagree but that’s just what I’ve come to accept.
It’s okay not to post on social media
This one is a bit controversial, I know. Don’t come for me. I think if someone doesn’t have enough information about something, or someone doesn’t really know about something going on, they shouldn’t post about it. Just watch and read, for the sake of being aware of what’s going on around you.
I also have a problem with people getting so mad about people not reposting certain things on social media because it just leads to performative activism and honestly, I don’t want to see that. Juts because someone agrees that racism is bad online, doesn’t mean they actually practice it. I don’t want a “Fine! Here you go” situation.
It doesn’t end on the internet
Initially, I didn’t think online activism or digital advocacy really did much because I thought it just starts on the internet and dies down after a few hours then that’s it! It’s important to know that it doesn’t end on the internet. There are people sitting in meetings trying to change laws that work against certain groups of people or trying to create laws that protect other people. There are people on the battle grounds who are protesting, attending rallies and creating community events to advocate for different causes. There are people taking government officials to court, physically advocating for democracy.
It really doesn’t end on the internet. Digital advocacy also involves physical work to create effective change. Also, governments and large organisations do feel pressured when large groups of people on the internet, or outside their offices come together to advocate for a common cause. I mean, the Zambian government was threatened by a protest that was held on Facebook Live. It doesn’t end there.
These are some things I’ve learnt through digital advocacy and online activism. What are some things you’ve learnt? Any ideas you have had to unlearn? Leave a comment and let me know!
Thanks for reading!
Hey guys! It’s Day 7 of the Afrobloggers WinterABC 2021! This week is all about advocacy. Today I wrote about things I’ve learnt through digital advocacy. Please follow the blog to keep up with all the posts in this challenge.