As much as I’ve been working on diminishing my social media use, I still check Facebook a few times a day. And while I’ve done a serious culling of my Friends list, I still have people there with whom I differ on some social issues. While I value the exposure to different points of view so I don’t exist in a total echo chamber, sometimes these points of view irk me something fierce. And while I can ignore them and move along most of the time, sometimes they really get to me and make me fume. The irksome issue du jour is the #WalkUpNotOut movement which emerged as a response to the National School Walkout Day, or more accurately, the forced rivalry between these two positions.
The National Walkout Day is meant to memorialize the victims of school shootings and to raise awareness in favor of gun control. WalkUpNotOut asks that kids, instead of walking out, walk up to marginalized kids and make friends with them. The former is an act of protest, the latter an act of connection. Guess what: there is no mutual exclusivity to these ideas. You can both protest and connect with other people! Students can do both: walk up to other kids and they can walk out in memory of the shooting victims and in support of gun reform. Heck, maybe they can bring the walk-up friends when they walk out!
But harmony doesn’t get Likes or Shares, discord does, and the various memes and clips I see flying around my Facebook timeline are the kind that pushes for the walk up option at the expense of a walkout, the kind that seeks to shame the students who walked out in protest for not walking up, the kind that seeks to appeal to our baser nature.
Stop doing that. Stop promoting conflict, especially that created by people looking to divide us further apart.
Let me say this again: you can have both connection and protest, walk up and walk out. There is no dichotomy here. By all means, students, walk up to those who are marginalized and seek to connect, but go and walk out to protest in favor of gun reform and to end gun violence.
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through
-David Bowie, Changes