Thoughts on #twittersilence

During #twittersilence yesterday #twittersilence was trending, proving an interesting point, one that was reassuring and scary at the same time.

People are naive, and this is way they’re easily manipulated and largely unaware of what happens around them. Of course I’m including myself. As much as I would prefer to belong to a more enlightened species on a better managed planet, I am undeniably a person, and even worse, a Westerner.

Anyway, tweets tagged #twittersilence yesterday could be roughly divided into three categories, according to my observations.

Tweets by clueless users stating that they couldn’t see the point of #twittersilence and that they found weird that it was trending, which proves that a lot of people are totally unaware of how awareness campaigns work: of course an invisibility campaign aiming at visibility will be visible, also relying on the clueless.

Tweets by well-meaning users who thought that boycotting twitter for one day was the opposite of what should be done (and consequently the hashtag #SHOUTBACK was forged and tweeted to trend at some point, together with uplifting #InspiringWomen), which proves that a lot a lot of people are totally unaware of how awareness campaigns work, but at least they can see that there is a problem indeed and they try to do something about it. Of course an invisibility campaign aiming at visibility will be visible, also relying on those who prefer to achieve visibility by making themselves visible.

Those by the vocal conservatives, who were basically declaring themselves happy to have one day of peace without the noisy, attention-seeking feminists, which proves that a lot a lot a lot of people are totally unaware of how awareness campaigns work, especially those who are under the spotlight of those campaigns. Of course an invisibility campaign aiming at visibility will be visible, and it will also highlight the true colours of the opponent, if they insist to remain under the spotlight.

So this is good news, because it means that a lot can be done in terms of communication with the clueless and the well-meaning (while the conservatives struggle to sound witty), but it is also bad news, because it means we still are naive, easily manipulated and largely unaware people on a poorly managed planet.

Personally, I observed #twittersilence because I believe in awareness campaigns in general. They may not be effective in the short term, but slowly awareness seeps into the minds of the silent majority while they don’t even notice, and eventually you get a good law or two, like universal suffrage, or more recently marriage equality. This is the life of the activist. You do things, sometimes very small things, sometimes more visible things, sometimes things that require having the number of your lawyer in a hidden pocket. On Monday you write to President Obama in regards of oil pipelines, offshore oil drilling and tar sands, on Tuesday you go to a local sit-in for local reasons, on Wednesday you check your bees are all right, on Thursday someone tells you nothing ever changes, on Friday you write to the EU in regards of renewable energy, every morning you count the number of dolphins killed in Taiji or kidnapped to be sent to dolphinaria round the world, on Saturday you’re happy Taiji fishermen have their day off, on Sunday you go to sobering yet informative exhibitions called things like Extinction: not the end of the world?

It’s not remotely heroic, nor even exiting, it’s not glamorous and you’re mostly considered a weirdo, but you’re never bored.

extinction

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