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Moving Beyond Hashtags - by Christina Malecka

by EW Staff

Moving Beyond Hashtags
What To Do Now That #BlackLivesMatter Is No Longer Trending on Social Media?


A Guest Blog Post from Psychotherapist and Digital Wellbeing Expert Christina Malecka LMHC, founder of Unplug. Reconnect. Restore: Digital Mindfulness Retreats.

Hello. Let’s take a breath.

How are you?

If you are like me, you have spent a LOT of time on a screen over the past 4 months. This global pandemic still has us spinning and we are in the midst of a transformative cultural uprising led by Black Lives Matter.

We can’t look away, nor should we. But it’s also time for some respite from the constant flow of information, and to step away from our screens to integrate new information.  

As someone passionate about tech-life balance and off-screen wellbeing, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  

There is no denying that social media has been a major catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for that I am deeply grateful.  
 
At the same time, I am skeptical about the powerful corporate interests working tirelessly to keep us addicted to their products, and the racism, sexism and other biases embedded in digital platforms. Platforms that are overwhelmingly created and maintained by White men.  (To learn more about this, I urge you to read Safiya Umoja Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression.) 

Can social media really be a foundational tool for systemic liberation in the long-term? I have my doubts.

The very nature of social media is that topics “trend” and then fade over time. What will we do now that Black Lives Matter is no longer front and center on social media?  

Over the past month I have been immensely grateful to brilliant Black women like Nicole Pearson, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Ijeoma Oluo. They have challenged me to more deeply interrogate systemic racism, and my responsibility to dismantle it.  

I will be continuing to follow Black leaders, activists and thinkers to stay engaged for the long term. The brilliant Ijeoma Oluo warns us to “be wary of things that are purely symbolic” and anything that allows you to do something that isn’t actually felt by people of color.

She says: "I always ask myself when I’m trying to do solidarity work, can the people I’m in solidarity with actually feel this? Can they spend this? Can they eat this? Does this actually help them in any way? And if it doesn’t, let it go."

One of the dangers of social media is that our actions on it are often purely symbolic.

I am not saying that agents of oppression should not demonstrate accountability to, and solidarity with targets of oppression on social media.  But it can’t stop there. We must make a regular commitment to inquiry and action, even after Instagram stops reminding us to do so. 

But I’m preaching to the choir here. We’re part of a Collective that leads with accountability to BIPOC communities and I see you out there doing the work.

We are also allowed to rest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about humility and the freedom that comes with it:  pausing, listening, reading and learning. What a relief to not have to cling to the White habit of striving for “expert” status.

We know that dismantling institutional racism is a marathon, not a sprint.  It needs to be integrated into our lives along with our work, relationships, hobbies, leisure and spiritual practices.

I love this incredible Google doc compiled by Bryanna Wallace and Autumn Gupta that offers daily actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement while maintaining physical distancing in the time of COVID-19. Whether you have 10, 25 or 45 minutes a day, this resource will help us maintain momentum when BLM is no longer in the fickle social media and news cycle.

Are you craving a reminder of what it feels like to have more spaciousness to reflect on what you’d rather be doing with the 4 hours a day you scroll social media? (Hey, we all do it…even me!). How do we make the most of our offline time in the age of socializing from a distance?

Join me on Thursday, July 9 from 5 - 7pm for Out of Our Smartphones, Into Our Hearts, a virtual community gathering hosted here through East West books.

During this two-hour experiential gathering, I will support you make the most of your offline time – not by rejecting technology – but by embracing evidence- and heart-based mindfulness and self-care practices designed to calm your nervous system, buoy your emotional health, and empower you to experience spacious screen-free time.

Join me for meditation, presentation and conversation. I’d love to see you there.

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