Aaron R. Davis
The snow has thawed, the grass is growing again and after a mild, gray winter it’s springtime in all but calendric designation. We’ve all been spending a lot of time indoors, scrolling up and down our favorite websites. But while we’re busy wondering if today is the day we should test the air conditioner, there are other people who aren’t so lucky. People who have lived through the kinds of things we only imagine we’ve lived through somehow by playing military video games.
Yes, you forgot there’s a whole world out there, didn’t you? And in that world, people suffer and live under oppression. And sometimes you’ll see a video about it online, or a slogan, or an animated gif of people unfurling a flag, and you’ll feel ashamed that you’re enjoying the benefits of life (or the benefits of your parents’ hard work), and you’ll really wish that you could do something to help the poor people you’ve never heard of who live in that country you don’t know where to find on a map. So what can you do with all of these newfound feelings? How do you channel them for the greater good? Especially without getting out of your desk chair or pausing that torrent for a little while?
Well, trouble about it no further: I am here to help. Here are the steps you can take to become an armchair activist … or better yet, a reactivist. This way, you can react to something without taking the time to actually become involved, and alleviate your sense of guilt by aggressively trying to direct it towards others.
Here’s how we do things on Tumblr.
(Just pretend someone dissed your favorite TV show, which is something you’re much more prone to rage about, because your priorities are not unbalanced at all.)
2. Do absolutely no further research before deciding that you are now passionate about a cause.
(For chrissakes, don’t actually get informed about this cause. That just waters down your blind reactivism. Remember, you’re not looking to actually change the world, you’re just looking to feel better about how privileged you are.)
3. Zero in on the charity that’s behind whatever propaganda you just witnessed, and decide they are a Force for Good in the World.
(Here, you may be tempted to look up the history of this charity and check its reputation, either on a site like Charity Navigator or even the Better Business Bureau. Do not do this. It will just diminish your newly-directed passion with all sorts of meaningless facts, warnings, statistics and possibly the knowledge that the people supposedly being helped by this charity find this charity and their actions repugnant. Remember, this is all about the children in whatever the hell country you literally never thought of until today.)
4. Reblog the propaganda and admonish your followers and anyone else who might see it for not also reblogging your incredibly important political statement that you now consider yourself to be an expert on.
(Here, instead of asking people to watch the video or click a link — and isn’t it astonishing how we’ve come to consider clicking a link to be an epic, Sisyphean chore? — just flat out order people, in big bold letters, to stop scrolling down their dashboards and reblog this NO MATTER WHAT. Don’t worry about being strident! Manners are for people who don’t care as much as you do this afternoon! Heavily imply, or even outright state, that anyone you imagine who could look at your important video and not be moved to spread the word is a heartless fucking asshole who doesn’t care about others. What, they don’t want to save children on their jackass ironic My Little Pony fan tumblr? Well, what the hell is wrong with them? They’re clearly soulless and not as moved by the plight of whomever the heck as you are. It’s here that you really get to deflect your own guilt by spreading it around. Hey, you reblogged it. Obviously the person you’re imagining won’t just doesn’t care about people the way you do! Damn it, you’re a good person!)
4a. Optional: you can also consider adding some kind of button or link to your front page that will take people to your new favorite unresearched charity that may or may not be fomenting and/or financially aiding an armed counterrevolution that, if it were to happen, would surely kill more innocent people. But don’t feel you have to: this really depends on how guilty you feel about the lifestyle you took for granted until you saw a sensationalistic video with a dead kid in it. Remember, this is ultimately about getting people to reblog, because the more people reblog, the more your new cause will be magically fixed through mass awareness or something.
Remember, it’s not important how or if this works; this is all about your reactivism. This is all about you and how many people know that you’re not an uncaring bastard. And in today’s busy world of economic collapses and yearly iPad upgrades, doesn’t spreading awareness actually counts as doing something to help a single person affected by the cause you stridently know something about? One click, and your role in change is played, my friend.
Reblogging is literally the least you can do.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org