Yogyakarta, July 17th, 2020 - The rapid development of technology seems to be a ‘double-edged knife’ for the development of social justice activism. On the one hand, the internet can facilitate activism and support the social justice agenda. But on the other hand, activism in digital space is not free from those who want to silence social issues. Through Difussion #28 event held on Friday (7/17), Center for Digital Society (CfDS) presented Jasmine Noor Andretha Putri and Irnasya Shafira as CfDS’ researchers to explore more deeply on the potentials and challenges of social justice activism in digital era. The event is conducted online via Google Meet and was broadcasted via YouTube livestream.
Alternative Forms of Youth Activism: TikTok and K-Pop Fans in Donald Trump's Prank
Youth activism in the digital age is growing rapidly with the existence of social media. Especially during these time of pandemic, digital activism is considered to be quite effective in providing criticism of injustice. In her presentation, Jasmine took the example of TikTok users who invited their followers to boycott Donald Trump's campaign and K-Pop fans who boycotted the #whiteoutwednesday hashtag that was deemed to silence the #Blackouttuesday movement with ‘fancams’ video. Both of these movements indicate that there is a new form of activism that uses the collective identity of the youth community to participate in social campaigns. The evolution of this activism later did not eliminate conventional participation politics, but functioned as a diversification of methods of political expression that is more popular among young people. “As young people, we have a voice that we can use to create change, and one of the ways is by utilizing our social media to do activism,” said Jasmine.
The Language of Injustice: The Death of Social Justice Discussions in the Internet
The increased use of the term ‘Social Justice Warrior’ (SJW) on various digital platforms with negative connotations is an interesting phenomenon because the connotation is inversely proportional to its original definition. Often interpreted as people who have a progressive social outlook, the term SJW has changed its meaning periodically since 1991. With four changes, the #GamerGate scandal in 2014 became a turning point that changed the term into a something that is often used to criticize or ridicule something. Even though it seems trivial, this change in meaning can set back the social justice agenda, because the issues that should be prominently discussed, are easily dismissed by the misconception of the meaning of the SJW. Irnasya emphasized that this is a language of injustice, that can mute the issue of social injustice which needs to be discussed. "As internet users, we should be aware of the language we use and let’s normalize discussions about social justice on social media," concluded Irnasya.