Friday, 17 April 2015

Yes, the #saynotoxenophobia tweets are great, but they won't make a difference By Pearl Boshomane

While I think it's great that many of us are trying to spread a positive message and calling out this gross discrimination and the senseless violence it has birthed, the practical part of me thinks we're wasting our energy.
Now, I am quite the slacktivist. Send me a petition to (digitally) sign and I'll do it. I'll share it on Facebook, Twitter and email it to my friends. Sell me a T-shirt with an important message on it and I'll buy it. I'll write and read columns about an issue. Gladly. Just don't ask me to take to the streets in an actual, physical protest. 

Are you kidding me? I'm not a "crowds" person. And I have a job. And I don't like driving. Ugh, imagine how hot the sun will be. What if it's too cold? And, and, and... 
Sound familiar? This is many of us slacktivists. Yes, our hearts are in the right place. Yes, we're outraged by the senseless and barbaric violence that's happening against our African brothers and sisters. We're so outraged that we're going to... tweet about it.
The people who are committing these crimes - attacking non-South Africans, looting their shops, setting shops and people alight - are not tweeting about it. They're doing it. We're seeing it on our TV screens, on our timelines, our favourite news sites. And then we tweet about how it needs to stop, how we need to say no to xenophobia. 
But hashtags do not a movement make. Rhodes didn't fall because of a hashtag. First came the action, then the hashtag, and the action continued until the goal was met, until the end was achieved. What you think of #RhodesMustFall is irrelevant - the point is it was an act, not just some words on someone's feed.
Yes, let's tweet about it. But what else are we doing? What difference is a hashtag going to make in the streets, where this senseless war is being waged? Why aren't we also taking to the streets as a way to spread this positive message, so that our fellow countrymen can see us? Because right now, they don't see or hear us. We don't exist. We're on Twitter.
Twitter doesn't win many wars. And the most fucked-up part of all? I'm gonna publish this column, hashtag it #saynotoxenophobia, and carry on being an angry slacktivist like everyone else.

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