Not “Slacktivism”

There’s a pervasive attitude amongst those who aren’t familiar with disability activism that writing a blog is not real activism. That somehow being restricted in my ability to attend events in meatspace renders my online contributions unimportant and useless.

A real activist, or just a blogger?

I can see how someone who isn’t involved might think that blogging is just self-indulgent whining. Let me state, then, in no uncertain terms, what exactly it is that I contribute.

Activism blogging is not just self-expression exposed to an audience. It’s a valid commentary on events much in the way journalists may write opinion pieces. We are writing the commentary on the stories that would not get attention from the mainstream media. We are discussing the topics relevant to our lives in a way that nobody else will. We are documenting the history of our people and contributing to the community we inhabit, so that our children may inherit the tools we have built and build upon them.

We are, in essence, growing a culture.

Direct activism is important. Taking on unfair laws, protesting, being visible and engaged in the political process; these are vital to securing the full range of human rights for our community. No less vital, though, is the hard work of thinking. The way ideas spread through an online community (though frequently mocked by people who object to the existence of tumblr) is an important aspect of the growth of our culture. Social media and blogging allow us to crowd source the energy required to develop theories and language to describe our experiences.

Take the many master posts on the topic of Autism Speaks as an example. One person (especially someone with a shortage of spoons) would have a very hard time writing a full critique of their practices. A full guide would take years of research and writing. By sharing our individual analyses we can take a shortcut, allowing informative posts to evolve as writers borrow a phrase here and a reference there. We are redrafting, refining our ideas and the language we use to communicate them. Eventually, this refinement will bring us to a set of concise and easily understood statements that can be used to quickly inform both new members of our own group, and our opponents. This is exactly the way any research community operates, for example scientific papers citing previous accepted papers.

So no, the act of blogging on activist topics is not fake or lazy activism, it’s a vital part of how we progress our cause. I’m proud to be a part of that.

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