We’re back with round three of Upworthy Meets World, in which we have a little conversation with someone doing incredibly cool stuff using (drumroll) THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA (audience gasp). This time we picked the brain of Jess, whom you might know from a blog called STFU, Conservatives.
Also she is totally a superhero.
Don’t believe us? READ ON, YOU ACCURSED SKEPTIC. We’ll win you yet!
Do you believe the Internet can be a force for good or is it a desolate wasteland of GIFs and cat photos?
I believe it is both. The Internet is what you make of it. On my blog, I combine the forces of good with a collection of gifs and cat photos. That’s what I love about Tumblr: I have the chance to combine my interest in politics with my love of memes.
Who are the Internet superheroes who make it more meaningful for the rest of us just chilling in Gotham?
The unsung heroes of the Internet are the community managers and moderators who try to keep the entire Internet from becoming a cesspool of gay jokes and spam. I wish more sites employed people to delete shitty comments and keep conversations on track. On sites like Tumblr, the members of the community become its de facto managers. Anyone who has ever sent a fellow Tumblr a message that said, “Hey, I saw your post about X where you said Y, that really isn’t cool and you should reassess what you wrote” is an Internet superhero to me.
How do passionate people successfully get all political on their social network friends? It could easily backfire.
There are two ways to deal with this. 1) Unfriend all the conservative losers you went to high school with or are unfortunately related to. 2) Use the 80/20 rule of social media. I do social media marketing professionally, and with social media, the 80/20 rule means you post 20% about yourself/your company/your content, and 80% stuff that isn’t directly about you. With your Facebook profile, if you want to keep your apolitical friends around, post roughly 20% political stuff and 80% everything else — photos, silly status updates, news stories that aren’t about the election. That way, people who want to talk politics with you will have an opportunity to do so, and people who want to stay in touch but don’t care about politics still have a reason to be your friend.
The main thing you SHOULDN’T do is apologize for being passionate. I hate it when I see “sorry to get all political but…” or “I know I don’t usually post this kind of stuff and I’m sorry if I offend someone but…” You have nothing to apologize for! Your friends aren’t apologizing for asking you to Like their band’s page or come to their event. That’s what they’re passionate about, and if you have to see that they’re listening to their “Best of ABBA” playlist again on Spotify, they have to hear it when you get on your soapbox every once in a while.
I realize the question says “social media friends,” not specifically Facebook friends. When it comes to other social media outlets, there’s a lot more flexibility. If someone doesn’t like what you’re posting on Twitter they can unfollow you. Facebook is how a lot of people (including myself) stay in touch with old friends and family who are far away, so there’s an impetus not to barrage them with your political thoughts. But on other social media networks, seriously, if they can’t handle what you’re saying, they can fuck off.
What is the upworthiest piece of content you’ve seen recently?
I saw an image a couple of months ago that I desperately wish I had saved to my computer. It was an image of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and the people they might appoint to the Supreme Court in the next four years. People forget that crucial role of the POTUS. They pick the people who ultimately decide the law. When people say, “I’m liberal but I don’t like what Obama has done, so I’m not voting at all” I want to rub that image in their face. Bad presidents picking bad Supreme Court justices are how we ended up with Citizens United. There are perfectly valid reasons to dislike Obama, but Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will continue to do great things for decades after Obama has left office.
Very recently, I found a video of Jennifer Granholm — who gave that amazing “cars get the elevator, workers get the shaft!” speech at the DNC — when she was on The Dating Game in 1978. That was pretty epic.
Why should people use social media if they want to see social change?
Is there some other way to reach young people that I don’t know about? Seriously, though, I know people deride social media as a place for making passive-aggressive statements and posting photos of lattes, but it has the power to do incredible things. It’s the best way to spread a message quickly and to people you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. And hey, we know it has some measurable effect. If you have something important to say, you should use as many platforms as possible to get your message out there.
Emphasis ours. We at Upworthy would like to thank Jess profusely for her time in answering these questions and encourage you to go check out her blog (if you haven’t already, which seems unlikely, as it is deservedly huge). If you know someone doing amazing, meaningful things on the Internet that you think we should talk to, let us know!
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