Being a keyboard warrior is not as exilirating as going outside to take action.
There’s a world of possibilities out there. A world that contains the good and the bad, the sad and the happy, the poor and the rich and individuals who are trying to change the world by the click of a button in hopes of getting free tickets to a concert.
The Global Citizen Festival, which is taking place this December, was announced just in time for Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, making July 9 a life-changing day for a lot of South Africans. What better way to celebrate the life of an icon than by watching the likes of Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran perform to thousands of people at FNB Stadium, for free!
From what I have gathered, not many of us knew about Global Citizen or what the organisation did before this day.
The fact that Global Citizen has been around since 2011 and that its #GlobalCitizens have “taken over 14 million actions to solve the world’s biggest challenges” was new to me.
Although I had zero knowledge of what I was getting myself into, I downloaded the Global Citizen: Take Action application on my phone.
My eyes grew wider and wider with every story that I came across. I did not quite understand how signing a petition to call on world leaders to take action in their countries would make a difference, but I understood the concept behind tweeting stories.
By tweeting I knew that the universal social media platform would allow for that one tweet to be seen by at least one person. In fact, maybe no one would see it, but sharing stories, especially as someone who wants to be a journalist, felt good.
Honestly speaking, I initially downloaded the application and signed as many petitions as I could and tweeted on the pure basis of gaining points, so that I could stand a chance of winning double tickets to the festival.
I have always dreamed of watching Beyoncé perform live, singing and dancing along to her songs and that dream was likely to come true as I kept going.
However, seeing the stories about women and children struggling in their countries due to lack of basic necessities and reading about how many parts of the world have struggled for years without access to clean water changed my view. I no longer wanted to be a #GlobalCitizen just to win tickets to live out my fan-girl dreams.
I decided to take a step back and read about every single action before gaining a point or two towards my Global Citizen score. Yes, it originally took me less than three days to get to more than 100 points, but what were those points worth if all I was doing was sitting on my cellphone in the comfort of my home hoping that others were going to make a difference?
Keyboard warriors are a real thing in the society we live in. Take #FeesMustFall for example, where thousands were tweeting about the movement. In reality though, not many of those were able to come out from behind their screens and be involved in the countrywide protests. Some may have thought that tweeting their opinions was enough but those who were out on the streets, fighting for what they believed in and marching to the Union Buildings, really had a firsthand experience of standing up for one’s convictions.
As of Tuesday, August 21, Global Citizen released a new feature to South Africans where we #GlobalCitizens have to complete certain actions in order to be entered into the draw. This meant that all my previous actions did not count towards my entry and my process of acquiring these tickets had to start again.
One action was to tweet, for four points, to ask “the South African government to provide treatment for all schoolchildren, plus fund tackling of [neglected tropical diseases]”. This was deflating to me. Once again, I only needed to tweet, and not take time, go out to communities and really get my hands dirty. I also did not want to just ‘check-in’ to a place I had visited and left without making a difference just to get four points out of the possible 23 I needed to be entered.
One hopes that many of us that started with the same mindset have been moved by the stories we have been reading. If being a #GlobalCitizen means picking up a piece of trash every day, helping build a home for the less fortunate and getting my hands dirty, then I’m all for it.
But, there is no point in being a keyboard warrior if you can’t act outside your 140 Twitter characters in real life.
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: Never safe, but always sound about it, August 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: Gay about first eSwatini Pride, August 2018
- Wits Vuvuzela, SLICE OF LIFE: Whose body is it anyway?, August 2018