What a year it has been. As a country we have experienced events that have led us to think about race and sexuality. We have processed these events online. One of the many changes that social media has brought to us is our ability to instantly share our opinions with hundreds of friends, family, and acquaintances. It is an incredible effective and at times satisfying tool to be used to share what we are thinking and feeling. It is also an incredible tool for sharing stories that have been largely unfamiliar to the world.
Recently the conversation has shifted to how "PC" our country has come. I've heard my conservative friends say that they cannot speak up for their beliefs because they are immediately attacked. I've heard Christians say that they are being persecuted for believing that same sex relationships are sinful. I've seen friends posting provocative images of the confederate confederate flag, saying that they won't cave to the cultural pressure of taking down the flag.
What I've been thinking about now, for the last several weeks, is that we live in an age, where the stories of others are no longer hidden in the shadows, and that what feels like "cultural pressure" is actually the voice of the voiceless finally being heard. At times, another persons story feels scary to us. Hearing that story can feel threatening to our own. In the past, we could simply choose to ignore the story of the other. Now, log on to your facebook account, and the only way you can continue to choose to ignore the story of the "other" is to turn off your computer.
Yes, we (white Americans) are being forced to hear the stories of our black neighbors. Yes, we (straight American Christians) are being forced to hear the stories of our LGBTQ neighbors. We feel defensive because we are being told that our history as white, straight, American, Christians may have had something to do with the silencing of the stories of others. We feel uncomfortable because sometimes the story of another person challenges the assumptions we have about the world. We feel afraid because change can be scary.
I see that the collective stories of the people in this country who have been silenced and oppressed are being heard. It is in the telling of these stories, via the avenues available to us online, that an entire new story is unfolding. A story that feels threatening, scary, and different to some, but is a story of freedom, acceptance, and liberation for others.
What if social media is allowing us to hear the stories that have been silenced for too long? What if in hearing those stories our world changes?