Iran, the Internet, politics

Two blogs in one night. I’m talkin’ crazy.

The media is all ablaze over Iran, it’s government-imposed social networking blackout, and that whole “twitter’s still free” thing.

Last night at around 2 a.m., I tried reading some of those #IranElection posts on Twitter. And like everything that comes over Twitter, it was an unmitigated flood of idiocy, repetitions of idiocy, and half-information.

Just a day after talking about the interesting opportunities a service like Twitter offers in the realm of creativity, I’m going to go ahead and chastise it for contributing as much to being stupid as it does to being smart.

I bring up this IranElection/Twitter nonsense because tonight I saw various retweets of people encouraging me to “Support the Iranian Election” by laying a green tint on my Twitter avatar user icon thing.

What a ridiculous waste of time. What a joke of an effort. What a trivialization of what a symbol stands for when the people who are using that symbol are being persecuted or worse.

Meanwhile, we (and by “we” I mean “we jackass Internet-soaked westerners, and specifically my early-20s generation”) are “showing our support” by turning our pictures green on fucking Twitter? Honestly?

And my generation might be the dumbest ever. We’ve found a way to take a spectacular tool for organizing passionate people with like views on important issues (the Interweb) and render it nothing more than an instrument to masturbate our own egos by pretending we give a shit and pretending we’re doing something to help. Assauge your do-nothing guilt and stoke your inflated sense of self-importance while staying firmly planted on your ass — click here.

In college I did a project studying the apparent political apathy of the student generation. I also wrote a few stories on it for Central Michigan Life based on a big survey I conducted and some research into the archives of that newspaper. What struck me at the time, and what I learned from the project, is that most people in the Millenial Generation are turned off to grand-scale politics (I’d hazard a guess and say our disillusioned, post-60s parents never taught us to care) and instead choose to volunteer on a local level, where we can actually see a change. That’s great, except politics in this country are totally screwy and none of us seems to want to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, something like Twitter actually makes a difference for some people, so we go ahead and spam it full of idiotic b.s. Then we pretend we’re helping when really, we’ve just found a really really big water cooler to shoot the shit around.

Take note: If you don’t have shit to say about the #IranElection that will actually help people to understand it or help the people on the ground, please stop typing. And if you think turning your buddy icon green makes you an activist, or even shows “support for democracy,” you’re fucking deranged. People are getting shot for what they believe in. You’re on your goddamn laptop.

You support democracy by standing up and marching. Activism is protest. Letter-writing. Appealing to elected officials. It requires actual action. It does not include signing of virtual petitions or the online equivalent of coloring in a picture with a crayon. If you were in a position of power and you saw a bunch of green Twitter photos, or were sent a virtual petition, would you for a second take it seriously?

I’d laugh.

Sigh. End rant.

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Phil

He's like, you know, the guy.

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