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TWITTER IS DUMBING DOWN ACTIVISM Tim Philbin, College of the Holy Cross

In February 2012, following the tragic and controversial shooting of Trayvon Martin, a number of disgruntled activists took to Twitter to voice their concerns with the manner in which black people have been treated by police officers. The staple of their online protest was #blacklivesmatter.

In time, black lives matter became far more than a hashtag; it developed into a full blown nationwide movement, complete with demonstrations, protests and no shortage of controversy. One of the defining features of the movement is a worldview that can only be described as manichean. For

BLM, there are two opposing camps: cops and black people. The movement is not alone in reducing a complex issue into a misleading binary. The hashtag #buildawall has dumbed down immigration policy, #justiceforharambe has dumbed down the ethics of animal treatment, and #shoutyour-


Temple University student Julia Davis on why she thinks the analog media best suits her message

abortion has dumbed down the ethics of abortion. The examples could go on forever. The simple fact is that oversimplification is endemic to Twitter, but the stark dualities it creates are toxic to productive dialogue. With only 140 characters, there is little room for nuance. The lifeblood of any democratic society is reasoned debate. Democracy is, at its core, an ongoing conversation about national identity. Such dialogue is complex, nuanced and deserving of deep contemplation. Twitter is not a vehicle for such

sophistication. It’s fine as a diversion (cc: Jaden Smith), but as a forum for meaningful debate, it leaves a lot to be desired. At the end of the day, no measured,

BRI GRIFFITH: Why did you start a podcast? JULIA DAVIS: I felt like there was a need for authentic material on the internet, [and a lot of] people falsely portraying themselves. It happened the other day—I found someone pretending to be me with a fake profile. I felt like a lot of dishonesty was happening on the web, so I wanted to create a space for authentic conversation. That’s what I was able to do with “Curltalk.”

Bri Griffith, Carlow University Julia Davis is the host of “Curltalk,” an independent podcast run out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Davis and guests use the cross-cultural, cross-generational space to discuss issues of feminism, women’s rights, human rights and local happenings in Philadelphia.

BG: Why do you think podcasts are relevant right now? JD: It’s a natural way to inform others about what’s happening in the world, on a smaller scale as well. You zone in on this one tiny picture of two or three people,

reasonable argument can be expressed in 140 characters, so instead activists reduce complicated issues into catchy hashtags. So the next time you have a cause you want

to fight for, by all means exercise your constitutional right to do so, but save everyone a headache and don’t do it on Twitter.

and indulge in that experience as a listener. There’s conversation on the media everyday, but it’s broken up by comments, likes and links. What I’m trying to do is produce material that has longevity. My main medium is dance, and that’s mostly translated through longer works. BG: How has “Curltalk” affected your college experience? JD: It’s allowed me to check in with myself, where I am in the space of college and the world. Each person I have on [the podcast] brings something different to the table, and we adopt that perspective for a 30-40 minute uninterrupted conversation. I’m learning about this person’s experience, or retelling one of mine, diving into what that means, but in a fun way.

MEET THE PODCASTER: Name: Julia Davis // Age: 21 // Year: Senior // Major: Ar t Direc tion // School: Temple Universit y From: Pit tsburgh, Pennsylvania // Podcast: Curltalk Instagram: @julia_davis STUDYBREAKS.COM

NOVEMBER 2016 //


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