The Dangers Of Sharing ‘Struggle Porn’ And How It Can Serve Egos More Than People In Need
You see an article about an injustice; the headline might illicit an emotion and you suddenly feel inspired to share it on your feed (Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc.). You momentarily feel good that you’ve helped “spread awareness” and move on to the next item in your browser. Do this enough, and you just might convince yourself that sharing struggle porn (trending/viral online content that feature a person(s) being oppressed) online without any real-world action is actually transforming the world … it’s not.
Let me be clear: in this post that you are reading right now, I’m talking to white people (and POC) who identify as “organizers,” “activists” and “healers” in online spaces. I’m talking to people who tie their identity into others perceiving them as “radical” or “influential.” If you don’t identify in this way, you can either stop reading now or continue to read this with an open mind. I dislike that I have to preface this piece with that disclaimer, but I have shared this post in other forms in the past and – without fail – white people comment on the thread assuming I am attacking them personally, or assuming that I have no knowledge about the many ways that white people have been allies to POC in the past.
Bottom line: if this piece speaks to something within you, getting mad at me for writing it is a waste of your time. So, here we go …
If you, as a white person (or POC) identifying as an organizer/activist/healer (who doesn’t have mobility or health issues), spend more time posting on the Internet about POC injustice than actually tangibly helping other people of color ON YOUR OWN BLOCK/in your own neighborhood, you are simply fetishizing our struggle for your news feed.
You are not helping. “Spreading awareness” isn’t enough. It was never enough and it’s not going to be enough in 2015. You are not some one person equivalent of the social media tactics used to support the Arab Spring, sorry. I’ve worked in social media and communications for over ten years; there’s a difference between leveraging social media to support real-world actions and just forwarding a link so you can feel like you’re involved somehow without actually doing anything. (more…)