It’s 8pm and I’m on Facebook. About five hours ago a video of feminist group Pussy Riot being attacked by Cossack militia made it onto mainstream news sites; the video shows the punk protest group being pepper sprayed and beaten by officials as they filmed a new video in Sochi, where the winter Olympics are currently being held. Since it’s publication my timeline has been covered with people sharing the video usually adding comments like ‘horrific’ ‘disgusting’ ‘how can we let this happen?’
I watched the video. It’s awful; women being dragged to the floor and whipped in front of hoards of cameras. You hear their screams and you hear them struggle. Without going into a long celebratory rhetoric, Pussy Riot are the refreshing antithesis to the modern, self congratulatory culture that has arisen from social media sites. Put simply; these days people believe that sharing a video makes you an interesting or good person. When they stick that video of two long lost brothers finally meeting after years apart they’re not doing it for anything more than to put across the idea to all their similarly zombified followers that they're some top bloke who totally empathises with people less well off than them.
Well guess what? Sharing that video only means that you’re contributing to the masturbatory culture we all indulge in daily. You can put across the image that you're funny/intelligent/caring whilst sitting in your underwear, staring at a macbook screen, scrolling through imgur whilst catching up on House Of Cards. This isn’t activism, it’s social media wanking, the online equivalent of running out into the street and doing a helicopter dick. You’re not changing the world, yeah you may have made that guy you got with in Vodka Revs once laugh or share the link, but at the end of those three minutes you’re both just going to go back to existing within the comfortable, restrictive bubble of social media.
Real activism and good deeds are a dying breed. It seems that any act of true empathy or charity is so quickly smeared across internet sites like Upworthy and Thought Catalogue. People no longer need to run out onto the streets to meet and express shared ideas; they can just create a Facebook group and rehash internet memes because pictures of Nicholas Cage’s face are definitely going to spur the next Arab Spring. I’m sure all the events in Kiev were definitely started by someone sharing a Russell Brand video, because, christ, if anything is going to stick it to Cameron, it’s you watching half of a youtube clip, taking it out of context, then going on a rant about the current state of politics when you could barely name a minister in the cabinet.
Change comes out of action, not sharing a video. To all those people who tried to stop Kony in 2011 - he’s still out there dude. Your concerned social media storm did nothing but probably cause some one to unfriend you. If you want evil, murdering warlords to stop recruiting innocent children to commit acts of murder, you’re not going to achieve this by sharing a clip made by a guy who feels High School Musical tributes are the way to solve this issue. And please for God sake stop with the ‘you’ll never guess what happens next’ videos. I know what happens next, because I have seen that video a thousand times.