Hey, Look What I Just Tweeted: Epigrams and Activism


I don’t know about you, but I have trouble reading long internet articles. The drawn-out language. The never-ending examples and justifications. Even just finding the time to sit down and read something for more than a couple of minutes during my hectic day. In fact, I’m sure many of you probably won’t even read this post from start to finish.

Which is why social media communication forums like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook have become hotbeds for quick political statements and opinions. Epigrams are pretty big right now in the the internet activism world.

What’s an epigram, you ask? Epigrams, or one-liners, are short, witty statements (usually no more than a sentence) with some kind of “punchline” or message. When you think about how epigrams work in activism, it’s similar to the way that Nietzsche wrote many of his philosophical statements. Lots of quick points to be analyzed later, like “God is dead” and “Madness is rare in individuals—but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule.” These statements, although short, relay complex ideas that lead to further critical analysis.

So think of social media as our modern day Nietzsche. At least in terms of writing style.

This post is short and to the point, but a reader can tell that the author is commenting on the hypocrisy that Chelsea Manning is treated like a criminal and that something needs to be done.

This post is short and to the point, but is clearly a call for action relating to the hypocrisy that Chelsea Manning is treated like a criminal even though controversial politicians aren’t. 

Twitter, a social media site that lets you post pictures, videos, and sentences lasting only up to 140 characters, is a perfect place for political figures, activists, and the general public to relay concise ideas in a readable way. When you only have 140 characters, you obviously have to be selective in your words (unlike me with all these lengthy adjectives and conjunctions). But carefully selected words tends to translate to clearer opinions/messages. Perfect for internet activists!

But how can you justify your opinion in just 140 characters? Well sometimes you can’t. But the point of activism on Twitter and other social media forums isn’t to provide justification for every detail of every aspect in a certain situation. Rather, it’s to relay effective messages in quick, witty, and easily-read ways.

Once thrown out there, an opinion can gain traction, support, and critique in more thorough ways.

Another concise post with a clearly articulated point, this one about racism and hypocrisy amongst Trump supporters.

Another concise post with a clearly articulated point, this one about racism and hypocrisy amongst Trump supporters.

Do I believe Twitter is effective for relaying ideas? Absolutely.

Most millennials I know don’t have the time or energy to read a wordy political piece all the way through (unless it’s for a class…and even then not always). But most of us check our social media accounts at least a few times a day. We’re a generation that tends to crave instant gratification and that comes through in our reading habits too.

This Tweeter offers some concise commentary on the stupidity and transphobia behind the North Carolina bathroom bill passed this past year.

This Tweeter offers some concise commentary on the stupidity and transphobia behind the North Carolina bathroom bill passed this past year.

Formatting complex political/activism-related opinions into quick, readable epigrams is simply a brilliant way to get millennials thinking about how to facilitate change.

When we see hashtags like #IStandWithStandingRock or #FreeChelseaManning or #BLM or #DumpTrump, it gets our generation thinking about the various issues we are facing today…which (hopefully) leads to us taking part in political/activist movements in more physical and concrete ways.

Many Tweets were also posted, offering quick insights to how problematic the Standing Rock situation is, this one commenting (in very few words) on white privilege and how the white North Dakota community avoided having it run through their area.

This “Tweet” offers insight to how problematic the Standing Rock situation is, commenting (in very few words) on white privilege and how the white North Dakota community avoided having it run through their area.

Sure, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook aren’t going to solve our society’s numerous problems. And sure, simply posting on social media definitely isn’t the way to make any concrete differences. But these quick reads on social media are a brilliant way to relay the opinions that are vital for ultimately creating lasting change.

That being said: #PostAwayActivists

 

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