It feels great to vent on social media, but it's hurting, not helping. Use the pent-up anger and frustration to promote action in the real world, where your intervention can actually make a difference.
Millions of Americans are feeling angry, frustrated and depressed over the deplorable misuse of governmental power that is victimizing the majority of citizens these days. Sadly, most of the energy pouring out from this enraged opposition is being channeled into dead-end social media, where funny memes and bitter conversation are taking the place of real-world action.
We like to think that the President and his party enablers are disturbed by this critical online activity, and are becoming increasingly concerned about the rise of anti-government opinions on social media. But that's untrue. Social media is actually serving the government's purpose by acting as a safety valve. If everyone's blowing off steam online, there will be fewer real-world demonstrations, and less ground-level organizing for substantive change. In fact, it's entirely possible that those idiotic tweets we keep seeing are intended (at least in part) to be hyped-up decoys that keep everyone busy on the Internet, while the actual sabotage is taking place in plain sight elsewhere.
One of the brilliant strategies that has been used to funnel activity away from the power center is to keep everyone's eyes focused on a few highly-charged issues, issues that have been either manufactured or simply leveraged specifically for this purpose. Such issues—most recently the border concentration camps and the plague of mass shootings—are always real ones. Today's anti-immigrant policies are clearly crimes, and an abhorrent misuse of power. And the horror of uncontrolled and unmonitored violence occurring in our cities is beyond terrifying. So we all feel justified—and rightly so (this is part of the plan)—in spending a lot of time talking about it, even getting out of the house and traveling to take part in political activities. But to the government, these are nothing but side issues. They're the sleight of hand, the distractions, the things that keep us occupied while the deeper, more permanent danger is taking hold in more critical locations. In the minds of those in charge, the migrant population has never been the real target—they're just the collateral damage.
Which means that all the talking we're doing on social media is not only functioning as a safety valve, it's also entirely misdirected.
Furthermore, even if this social media venting did have some sort of significant effect, it wouldn't be reaching the right audience. All the criticism we're posting is going out to people who already agree with us. Government supporters chat among themselves, and the apathetic citizen majority don't see any of our posts, or simply scroll past them.
Think about it. Suppose there hadn't been any social media over the last couple years. You would have become so angry and frustrated by this point that you would be writing letters to your representatives constantly, attending (or even organizing) local meetings and protests, spending every waking moment trying to figure out how you could use your creativity and intelligence to counteract the downhill direction of governmental policy. You might be inventing new outreach and mobilization methods, or engaging in effective conversation with your neighbors, countering specious pro-government rationalizations and motivating the apathetic to learn more about what's really happening.
The current administration is relying on you to vent on social media. To them, it certainly looks as though, "What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook."
The benefits of social media kick in when an event, protest or new organization has been launched and communication becomes necessary. It's an excellent way to get the word out. Social media also serves a purpose for friends and family who would like to keep track of each other's activities. Otherwise, it's more or less a bottomless hole where important matters disappear without consequence.
The next time you get angry over the latest government action, intentionally restrain yourself from posting about it, and also refrain from sharing someone else's hilarious or sorrowful meme. Do something else instead. Get creative. Be original. Invent.