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Civil Rights Day and Moving Forward

I think it is good that Civil Rights Day (or Martin Luther King day) comes at the beginning of the year. We’re still looking around and figuring out how this year needs to go and who we need to be during it. It is a good time to be reminded that non-violent civil protest can be a hugely powerful force in the world, but only when it is fueled by resolute anger, the kind of anger that says “things must change.”

I resonate with that message. I declared it for myself this year as I try to face my anxiety head on. As a part of that, I am examining how I interact with social media, people in online communities, and people in my physical communities. The internet has enabled many beautiful things. The creative work that Howard and I do would not be possible without the internet. However there are also unintended consequences, and it is my moral and societal responsibility to pay attention to those consequences. I am responsible for deciding what changes to make in my own life to mitigate the negative effects of the internet. Every day I choose who to be on the internet and who to reward with my attention. Every day I choose my information sources and how thoroughly I examine my sources before spreading information from them. I am a participant in internet culture, and unless I am consciously working to mitigate the negative effects of current internet norms, I am complicit in the damage those norms do.

Howard recently tweeted a phrase that has been bouncing around in my head ever since: “Think globally, act locally.” For me this means imagining a world that I want to live in, figuring out what things I can do to help that world exist, then doing those things. So I will be donating to good causes with time, money, and attention. I will try to articulate my thoughts on how to make the world better instead of just complaining when it is hard. I will remember the efforts of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, John Lewis and hundreds of others. I will honor their efforts by making efforts of my own. Even if my efforts are small and only change me, that is still the world made a tiny bit better.

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