2 thoughts

  1. We should all certainly email our politicians and be more active in political life. But, I do think this argument undermines both the political importance of both emotion and social media. Cries of pain – even in apolitical contexts – can be regarded as a form of protest, a claim to rights, to humanity, to a voice, to a person that is being badly treated or ignored or is in need of help. Such emotional expressions embed people within political relationships and communities; they make claim to resources; they act as a challenge to the status quo. The existence of such cries matter. They particularly matter for groups that have no other resources with which to make their protest. The expression of emotion then is not a neutral event; it is implicated in social power relationships, and to set it aside as ‘useless’ is to miss the point of its function and possibilities.

    The amount of power which such cries have and their ability to change the world is more complex. It might be said that shouting into your social media networks is to cry into an echo tunnel, but it is also an opportunity to consolidate and reform your emotional and social community; to learn how to articulate your emotion and transform it into political discourse and to contribute to a language of resistance (or indeed power) to broader political norms. The networks of political resistance speech have often remained quite small until revolution; and yes that suggests we need more than just speech, but it also highlights the ways that such speech has sustained and built revolutions, has motivated people to action, and gave them a sense of the nature and boundaries of what the struggle is and should be about.

    Finally if the last few elections in Britain have taught us anything, it is how important mainstream media has been in determining the political shape of the nation. Discourse matters; indeed it is vital. If we want change it then, we need to contribute to that discourse in the spaces and places where we can, and that is the potential that social media offers.

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