Sunday, 26 August 2012

The activist's club

    It is important to us all as humans to at times identify as members of particular groups, united by common interests or objectives. Unthinkingly I'm a motorcyclist for example, identifying with the rider in my rear-view mirror when I'm driving the Rollerskate or the Wreck and moving towards the kerb to let them through.
    Some people identify themselves by their sporting loyalties, their religion, or by where they grew up. Others identify by their politics, and it is with a subset of that group that I am starting to lose patience.
    Activists. Self-described activists, that is, a group whose members seem to be very common on the internet. What seeing "activist" in someone's profile should mean is that this is someone who is committed to the fight for political or social change within the framework of their beliefs or situation, someone who achieves that aim through real-world actions. Good old-fashioned legwork, campaigning, writing letters, lobbying, public speaking, following legal avenues, that kind of thing.
    What "Activist" so often means on the internet though is something very different. When I see that word beneath someone's name in a Twitter, Tumblr or other online profile it's a fair indication that I'm in for a steady stream of faithful regurgitation of the most right-on flavour of whichever political creed they cling to. There will be reblogs of other similar posts aplenty as they vie with others to be the purest carrier of their collective torch, and rabid denunciations of those decreed to be enemies. In short, people who seem to talk among themselves a lot, but who never seem to get anything done.
    It is through a lot of hard work and unglamorous political activism that we trans people have achieved the legal protections, rights and access to treatment that we enjoy here in the UK. These things were gained by a hell of a lot of hard work by and personal toll on the people concerned, not through indignant rants or circular arguments on social media sites.
    So if you see "Activist" on someone's online profile, take a look at their audience. If they're speaking only to their peer group in the language of that peer group, they aren't activists, they're just hangers-on. Activism should be judged by deeds, not hot air.


  1. You're not upset are you? Something here has gotten to you it seems but you haven't revealed anything specific. I know what you mean about 'activists' though, there are real ones and ones that just make up the numbers.

    Shirley Anne x

  2. You're right as always. Quite a few things over time, usually young and opinionated people online with a Cause, who mistake mild disagreement with their views for rabid support of their objectionable opposite.