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It's Our Turn: Facebook is not a soapbox

Growing up in the social media age has been a blessing and a curse. Facebook is a fantastic tool to keep in touch with friends and family during this crazy, chaotic journey called life. But it’s also becoming an unnecessary outlet for many people.

We live in a world that is on the brink of big changes. With feminism, gay rights and other diversity movements being in the forefront of our news, people can’t help but get excited about important issues.

However, when Facebook and other forms of social media become plagued with political rants, it’s hard not to question the sincerity of the poster behind it.

The Internet has created a false sense of security for many people. It’s easy to point the finger of blame at people when you can hide behind your computer screen and keyboard. People put things on Facebook that they would never have the nerve to say in person. From slut-shaming to conservative-bashing to man-hating, people have no hesitation when it comes to voicing a controversial opinion online.

As a journalist, I respect freedom of speech and those who exercise it. As a human, I am proud of people who stand up for what they believe in, especially if it’s for a great cause. But as my own person, I can’t handle people who bark just to hear their own noise, but shy away from taking it any further than their profile page.

More often than not, I see people blowing up online, shouting obscenities toward someone doing something they believe is wrong and demanding change. Then that’s it. They get in a heated debate with one of their friends about whether the issue is a big deal and then they just stop.

People doing this insist that they are a part of the movement to make things better, but really they aren’t doing much at all.  They talk big game, but never step up to the plate. When someone gets so excited about something in a public setting, but displays little or no action to back up what they are saying, it comes off like they are putting on a front and seeking out attention. Not only does it belittle what others think of the poster, but it completely devalues an issue that deserves respect and attention.

Something as necessary or important as feminism, for example, starts to come off as nothing more than an annoying topic for people to go in circles talking about. Instead of more people becoming aware and educated, they simply get turned off and dismissive when they see someone who is nothing but talk go off on it.

We all know people that we have a hard time taking seriously because of how dramatic they get over everything. They come off as entitled prats who want others to perceive them as intellectual extremists who know what’s best for the world. In reality, people are seeing them as bandwagon activists who will be mad and upset over something just for the sake of being mad and upset.  Facebook is amplifying the number of these people to an infinite number.

Think of how much could be accomplished if people harnessed the energy they put into their Facebook rampages and actually went out into the world with petitions, attended meetings, questioned authority. Instead of pointless conversations over social media, good things could be happening.

The way I see things, if you have a problem and are unhappy with the way things are being done, do something about it. Don’t whine and complain about it for your friends to see; go out there and make a difference.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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