Deep organizing, social media, and the left




Today, we heard from the Mutual Aid Working Group about their efforts to build community trust by meeting people where they are at. Mutual Aid WG doesn’t just say they care about public education; they demonstrate it by organizing supply drives. By proving they earnestly care about their community, they people they come into contact with become open–even receptive–to the message of democratic socialism. This isn’t a cynical ploy; meeting people where they are at is how good organizing works.

Social media and organizing

Social media and an online presence can only accomplish the most shallow of organizing. The key to organizing and the left is trust: human-to-human, trusting relationships. This simply cannot be accomplished online; real organizing must occur face-to-face. Our facebook page has over 1400 likes and was tagged in recent posts from 350 different people. Obviously, our active membership is nowhere near these numbers. Those likes and mentions do nothing to build a better world.

As our first article points out, not only can social media only accomplish the most shallow of organizing, but it is also extremely harmful to your well-being. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the more time you spend on social media, the worse you feel; despite promises of bringing people together, social media only amplifies the loneliness and isolation caused by capitalism. Ironically, many people who profit off social media and technology don’t let their kids use social media and send them to computer-free private Waldorf schools.

Yet the other two articles point out that most people first heard of Bernie Sanders, DSA, left publications, and left points of view on social media. The vast majority of people are on social media; we cannot abandon these spaces to the Right. This article recommends we delete our personal accounts and become active on institutional accounts. People with talent at the arts could work together to great a beautiful Milwaukee DSA Instagram feed (instead of posting to their own Instagram with #MKEDSA); the Health Care Working Group could produce accessible information on Medicare for All and take turns addressing anti-M4A propaganda posted by the right (posting not as individuals, but using the WG’s facebook account); etc. Since these are not personal accounts, they would not be as harmful to us using them, but they would help us reach people through social media.

The final reading highlights a discussion board of ex-followers of right winger Jordan Peterson; by and large, the posters suffered from severe depression and isolation until they found Peterson’s youtube channel, which gave them home in a very dark time of their lives. What if we had a presence on youtube that could give people hope and get them involved and making new friends in DSA chapters by clearly explaining to them: It’s not you. It’s capitalism



Discussion questions:

  • Do you have any firsthand experience of organizing? What have been the most effective tools? Eg, contacting people you know, social media, posting fliers on the street or in cafes, email list, etc.
  • If you were in charge of our chapter’s social media, what would you do?
  • Can social media be used effectively in conjunction with face-to-face organizing?
  • Have you experienced negative effects from using social media, or positive effects from deleting accounts?