I’m at a precarious age in my life.
On one hand, I’m young enough to hold a passionate world view, and to desire to defend what I believe in.
On the other hand, I’m old enough to know that whatever I do, I probably won’t make a major difference in the world.
Darn life experience, makes me more practical.
However, after reading about digital activism this week, I’ve been impressed to see how many people let the fact that they probably won’t make a difference stop them, and guess what? These people have actually made major differences in their own lives and the lives of others.
Digital activism: sort of like this, but sort of not. (Photo CC by Eyesplash)
I remember hearing about the Arab Spring a few years ago, and not quite understanding what that term meant. I was all like, whoa it’s winter here… how can it be spring in the Middle East? After perusing the 6 activist functions of technology, I have a better understanding of, and a better appreciation for, what these Arab youth accomplished through their own tenacity, with a little help from social media. Because of these youth, the whole world was able to recognize the plights that these Arabs faced, and to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. In this case, digital activism was successful in shaping public opinion by providing us Westerners with information about a revolution that we may not have been familiar with otherwise.
Powerful imagery from the Arab Spring. (Photo CC by D.I.Y. Music)
While not all young online activists are attempting to overthrow an oppressive regime, some are attempting to inspire themselves and others to reach their dreams. The teen activist I studied was Astronaut Abby, a high school student who wants to be the first person to walk on Mars. The old part of me says, “Keep dreaming sista,” but the young part of me says, “You go girl!” While Abby may never reach Mars, she isn’t letting the fear of failure stopping her from pursuing her passion (a lesson I could learn a thing or two from). And you know what they say, shoot for Mars, because if you miss, you’ll land among the stars (or something like that).
Astronaut Abby: What a BAUS. (Photo courtesy of AARP blog)
Recently, anger about the proposed route and ecological effects of the Keystone Pipeline has set a fire in me, and made me think about being in activist in some way. Sometimes, I feel silly about this anger. After all, the pipeline will provide us with an abundance of jobs and cheap, domestic oil, two things our nations so desperately needs. However, while I’m still young and I don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money on gas or finding a job, I can afford to be a bit of a hippie and think about the longstanding ecological impact and injustices of projects such as the Keystone Pipeline.
Map of the proposed pipeline and its proposed extension (sorry it’s small, I couldn’t find anything better that I could add to my blog). Notice how the extension literally RUNS LIKE, RIGHT BY MY HOMETOWN. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Environment)
For starters, the proposed route for the pipeline runs straight across the Oglala Aquifer, the main water source for oh, I don’t know, THE ENTIRE MIDDLE OF THE NATION, a place that I consider my forever home. Obviously, I would not be happy if the pipe sprung a leak, and no matter how much the engineers working on this project ensure that this will NEVER happen, yeah, it’ll probably happen. (Remember when they said that the Titanic was unsinkable?) Another aspect of the pipeline that I find to be unjust is that its route breaks the Treaty of Fort Laramie (only the millionth time our nation has broken this treaty, but still). This treaty provided Great Plains Native Americans with tracts of land that could not be tampered with by the government unless, of course, the government found a reason that they might want that land (that last part wasn’t exactly part of the original treaty, but seems to be a corollary that has been used on numerous occasions). We all feel bad about how unfairly early settlers treated the Native Americans, and I think most of us would take it back if we could, but the only way we can make up for the wrongdoings of our ancestors is by not making the same mistakes. Apparently, this sentiment is not shared by the pipeline route planners.
The last, and (In my opinion) most important, grievance I have with the Keystone Pipeline is the fact that really, it’s not necessary (at least as I see it). The purpose of the pipeline is to transport tar sands from Alaskan oil fields to Texas oil refineries in a cheap and effective way. Now, I won’t get started on the ecological impact of these refineries, but my question is, why so far? Why not build refineries nearer the source of the energy? Why build a precarious and somewhat ridiculous pipeline across much of the nation?
Oh yeah, because this would cost more money. And heavens forbid that a big oil company spend some cash to think about all of us little people living in the heart of the nation, in the place they’re planning on spoiling with a big pipe.
If I can’t convince you to care about the Keystone Pipeline with my words, maybe a picture of the Nebraska Sandhills, which is part of the proposed route for the pipeline, will. Imagine this, but with a huge pipe leaking tar sand dominating it. (Photo courtesy of Alan R. Smith)
Alright, enough hippie talk here. I guess this is my form of starting my digital activism. I don’t know if I’ll have any effect on the reality of the Keystone Pipeline (probably not), and I most likely don’t have my facts completely right and someone will set my straight and I’ll just end up looking like a doof (probably). But still, I did what I could to inform the public about my views, views that I think are shared by a lot of us Nebraskans (not all, but some), and I followed my dreams of being a tree-hugging, granola crunching hippie.
And hey, I may be old enough to know better than to post my opinions on the internet, but I’m young enough to not care.