In this personal essay, writer Eloghosa Osunde contemplates the role of marginalized artists in online activism.
Eloghosa Osunde | Longreads | September 2018 | 18 minutes (4,515 words)
It’s another day with tragic news — as are most days these days. It’s always something. If not race-related violence in America, it’s suicide-bombings in northern Nigeria or the massacre in Plateau State or a trailer falling over a bridge in Lagos and crushing people to death; or that fuel tanker exploding on Otedola bridge, eating multiple vehicles and people in a billowing tower of black smoke; or it’s another #metoo story; or some more violence against LGBTQIA+ people across the world. Or it’s the suicides. Those backtobacktoback suicides.
“Watch out for your faves who are quiet on this matter,” says the tweet, “because silence is complicity.” I scroll down two more to figure out which of the matters we’re discussing now, even though I know I shouldn’t have. As I suspected, it’s a noisepool of rage, triggering links and photos attached. But I’m in it now.
“‘Your silence will not protect you, it’s better to speak knowing that we were never meant to survive – Audre Lorde.’ #enoughsaid,” says another tweet. “Share your stories, let’s name and shame these monsters. By not sharing, we’re giving them more power and they might do it to someone else!”
“People are literally dying” says a tweet linking to a video of a woman with a great body, in a neon dress, “and children are being put in cages!” 1.4 thousand likes.
I scroll faster.
Further down, an author is announcing their publication date but prefaces the thread with an apology. “I know this is a difficult time, and I feel bad having to do this now but please —” It’s not the first time I’ve seen this, either. It’s been less than 10 minutes on the app, and between those minutes and these tweets, there’s now a brick tower of anxiety in my chest.
On Instagram: “If you ever wondered what you’d have been doing during slavery or the holocaust or the civil rights movement, you’re doing it right now.” Following that, information about another tragedy. Do something! the post adds. It takes less than ten minutes!
In response, I go madder. I think to myself that if I’m feeling this from the comfort of my bedroom, then what everyone in the bloodshot eye of each violence must be experiencing must be a million times worse, and it makes me hate the world even more strongly. So, I retweet, repost, retweet people talking about each issue, even though I know I won’t be able to look at my profile afterwards. It’s all fury now, fueling and felling me at the same time. I’m thinking (knowing?) — obsessively, manically — that the world is drooling at the mouth with wicked intention for all of us, that nowhere feels safe, no one is safe and we’re all fucked. That voice settles in me, grows a sturdy femur, and I feel it happening: that indifferent stroll towards the cliff that my brain does. There’s no point being here, it tells me, sounding bored and done, let’s go. My brain means it. And that’s how I know I’m in trouble.Continue reading “To Post, or Not to Post?”