To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest. -Gandhi
There was a time in our shared histories when only long distance runners and smoke signals could be used for communication with distant people. We have come a long way since then, however. Instead of setting up a fire and trying to control the way the smoke climbs into the sky (not sure how that works), we can now go digital. We are able to sign on to Twitter or Facebook and connect with the world in just a few quick key strokes or mouse clicks. Shortly after (and depending on your social networking skills) hundreds, thousands, and in some strange cases millions of people all over the world will see what you are feeling at that moment. They get to see what you enjoy, know your thoughts on a certain matter, and most importantly, what you stand for. That is the wonderful thing about living during the Age of Information: we get to know each other´s good and evil. We get to unite, learn the differences and identify the similarities between cultures. We get to learn that we are all really the same, no matter where we live. We learn to "like" others for how they think and not for what they look like, or how much they make in a year.
The Era of Communication has given us the opportunity to share vast knowledge and wisdom, yet more people decide to share a picture of Britney Spears’ bald head rather than a good article about an anti-gay, anti-women or racist bill that someone is trying to pass in a neighboring state, or legislation that is designed to strip the rights from the many while protecting only the few. For some people, the Internet is simply for work, such as emailing their boss or finishing up a school paper. But for other people, myself included, the Internet has become, in some ways, a second home, a day to day activity, and part of life. In only seventeen years we have gone from a few government scientists being aware of the existence of the World Wide Web, to an astounding 2.2 billion people actively online. If only mankind could find a way to learn tolerance that rapidly.
A couple of years ago I decided to go "stealth." Back then, as a Trans* man having grown up in a third world country, I thought that exposing my true self would endanger my life. I thought that if I spoke of my past and let people know I was different, it would keep me from getting a decent job, an education and a higher quality of life. I did not share that important Facebook post that could have made a huge difference in my life. And I only failed to do this because a part of me feared the danger, feared the risks I may be taking. What I did not know back then was that by keeping it secret, I had actually decided to become invisible, and invisible people do not have any rights. It is in visibility, in casting light in the shadows, the bright lights of group attention, that the most wonderful social changes we experience today are made. Cyber activism has the ability to let us be known all over the world. If you don´t believe me, ask that guy Kony.
The time has come to make a decision that may very well change the course of events, even shape the reality of the next generation. Invisibility is no longer our ally, or even an option. It never really was, though. Speaking out now, in one united voice, is more important than ever. Last week there were at least 10 hate crimes in the United States alone, in which hospitalizations were necessary, not to mention over 40 murders in Iraq, massive LGBT arrests in Dubai and the terrible slaughter of Mexico´s best known trans activist. Less than one percent of the world´s population will ever know this happened. Therefore, the criminals behind these acts will never be brought to justice and the cycle will continue and continue until we speak out.
I am, by no means, trying to tell anyone how to use their social networking subscriptions. I am merely suggesting that we now have an actual opportunity to be seen and heard. Let us not waste it.