The Grey Area of Social Media and Armchair Activism

"You're either with us or against us. On this bandwagon or off."

In the age of armchair activism, and trial by social media, is there a moral ambiguity surrounding the causes and people we do and don't support on the internet? Lia Hynes investigates.

One of the internet's (many) less palatable effects is the fact that it has made us all professional opinion holders. In an era which despises experts, the opinion makers are whoever shouts the longest and the loudest (hello, Nigel Farage) and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have given each one of us as a platform from which to broadcast. 

To vaccinate or not? Brexit or Remain? Clean eater? Vegan? Fit or fat shamed? Do you put pictures of your kids online? Are you woke, or not? Take a stance, people!

Why? God knows we can all identify with the comfort of the herd. 

Armchair activism. Slacktivism, Clicktivism. 

This is not to suggest that every person who likes a post to express their sense of outrage would, without a smartphone, have taken to the streets to march.

But more than that; is groupthink really the ideal modus operandi for deciding how we feel about something?

You're either with us, or you are against us. 

Nowhere has this over-identification with an opinion as a form of tribalism been to horribly played out to the nth degree than with Brexit. 'Traitor,' pro-Brexit protestors roar at journalists leaving the British parliament. Their only crime? Expressing an alternative opinion. 

People get bored. It's a black or white approach to deciding how one thinks that allows little room for ambiguity. For grey areas. And grey areas are important. 

Read the full article in this month's Irish Tatler. On shelves now.

Main image by @adwoaaboah

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