I woke up last Tuesday confident that I was voting for the first female president of the United States. I went to sleep mad, confused and enraged with the results. To be completely honest, I felt the same way when I woke up on Wednesday and haven’t stopped feeling that way since. But unlike what seems to be everyone else, I didn’t take my anger out on social media.
I agree that we have the right to be angry about a xenophobic, sexist bigot being elected president. Everything about this election has been disheartening, especially to first-time voters who feel betrayed by a system we were taught to praise. We also have the right to share that on Facebook — that doesn’t mean you should.
This doesn’t spawn from patriotism or a feeling that you should have infinite respect for the president-elect, or the acting president for that matter. I believe that a healthy democracy runs on citizens’ ability to critique their leader. But frankly, your Facebook status ranting about the election results is making no change.
Social media can play a huge role in activism, but only if actual action takes place with it — that’s not happening by posting a status. While posting or tweeting about an issue can shed light on it and inform people, nobody was unaware of the election results before you told them.
It’s important that people feel like their voices are heard, but social media platforms are not the place for it. You’re speaking to a relatively small network of people, all of whom you know in some way, to try and reach what end goal? Your friends, family and distant acquaintances can’t do anything about your frustration other than validate it with a like.
It’s a self-fulfilling millennial prophecy. We’re told we don’t care, we don’t vote and we don’t take action to make a difference. To fight back, we post statuses to prove those claims wrong. In doing so, no progress is made. There’s power in words only when we connect them with an action.
Rather than seeking attention on social media, harness your anger and let it inspire you to make a change. Donate to a cause or protest for a right you’re concerned will be taken away. At the very least, make your status issue specific to educate people about why you’re upset and why you think they should be too. Better yet, if you want your voice to matter speak to the people who actually make legislation that affects you. Write a letter to your representative, not a status.
Just as Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech, “Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time.” I doubt she meant your constitutional duty to lose your Facebook friends. While Facebook statuses are seemingly harmless — yet extremely annoying — they’re counterproductive. This pseudo-social-media activism gives people a false sense of accomplishment, as if they’ve done their part by sharing their opinion. If you’re not accompanying your words with action, though, the only outcome you’ll see is likes on a status.
Rebecca Klar is a senior majoring in English.