Friday, November 9, 2012

The Power of Social Media

"Four More Years"
Source: Facebook

My friend shared this article on Facebook about Facebook's most-liked photo of all time.  This was the year of the meta-book, Alison Bechdel's memoir Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama.  


Is it also the year of the meta-post?

The photo itself of the President and the First Lady embracing is truly amazing.  But what really captures my attention, because I'm a blogger and therefore a narcissist, is this comment about the power of social media:

"Just four years ago, it would have been almost unfathomable that a private photo shared by the campaign directly with its supporters—as opposed to a candid shot snapped by a press photographer—could become the most iconic of a presidential election. But such is the power of social media."

I agree.  Social media has empowered everyday citizens to become political activists.  It used to be that I had to walk door to door with a paper petition on a clipboard in my hand when I worked for Greenpeace and wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote political participation, always in danger of having doors slammed in my face.  Trust me, though, I'd rather have a door slammed in my face than have to search my pockets yet again for a tissue to wipe the spittle off my face after some asshole has screamed at me.

Activism has gotten so much easier with our technological advancements.  When someone screams at me on Facebook no bodily fluids are exchanged.  The worst I have to do is adjust my eyes to the all-caps font they've decided would more appropriately get their point across that I am in fact a CRAZY FUCKING BITCH and not merely a crazy fucking bitch. 

But honestly, I hardly ever get Facebook-flamed anymore since I left that political discussion group.  Most of my non-Progressive friends--Conservatives, Libertarians, Apathetics--are exceedingly tolerant of my extreme opinions.  Either that or they're tech-savvy enough to have figured out a way to hide my political posts while allowing my sweet posts about Katie to show on their news feed.  I know they're up to something because the cute Katie quote posts get tons of "likes" while most of my political posts are "liked" by my progressive friends only.

Yes, the secret is out.  I have been sucking you into my Progressive political blog by occasionally posting adorable things about my extraordinary daughter Katie.  I'm the political junkie version of Honey Boo Boo's mom, using my daughter for attention.

But that's the beauty of social media: exposing people to sides of ourselves we'd like them to see in a more deep and meaningful way.  Back when I was such a lefty I named the stray cat my girlfriend and I adopted Radical Greenpeace Activist (Raddy for short,) most of my friends and relatives who held opposing political ideologies kept away from me.  Or maybe it was a mutual keeping-away-from.  But now that I'm Facebook friends with these people who I love and appreciate despite our differences, I get to share a side of myself that used to go hidden.  It's hard to explain the complex reasons why Jimmy Carter is my favorite president over Thanksgiving dinner when really I'm more interested in wrapping my arms around those nephews and nieces and enjoying our communal, celebratory meal.  If you really want to understand why I believe what I do, just friend me on Facebook.  It's so much more efficient than verbally 'splaining myself over and over again whenever I'm at a family gathering or social function with my non-Progressive friends.  I'm there to enjoy the moment and not proselytize.  Heads up!  Thanksgiving is approaching.

By sharing highlights of my daily life with people I used to avoid on the basis of misunderstanding, I'm able to prove the stereotypes wrong.  Yes, I'm a Progressive.  And yes, I have strong family values.  Look at the turkey craft I just did with my kid.  Yes, I'm a feminist, and no that doesn't make me a feminazi.  I just think women should be given opportunities in life, like in this story about my mom.  Yes, I'm bisexual, but I'm not going to hit on your husband or your wife.  Yes, I'm a liberal who believes in the separation of church and state, but that doesn't mean I'm godless.  

I'm just another run-of-the-mill, radically moderate suburban mom.  I'm more like you than I am different from you if you pay attention to what's important.  

For too long while I was forming my own political ideology, blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter hijacked the political spotlight and assigned derogatory connotations to words I used to describe myself--feminist, liberal, progressive.  Their connotations did not fit me.  I'm a good person.  Not a soulless monster.  Finally, thanks to social media, I get to define myself.