Monday, April 15, 2013

Social Responsibility in the Internet Age

The Internet ruins everything. Before the Internet, I could just stay away from the TV, and take long walks in the forest and pretend that all my food and all my supplies and clothes appeared out of nowhere, and that no bad things happened in the world. Now it screams at me every time I go to check Facebook.

My unfortunate downward spiral often goes something like this: “Oh, I like that Dove ad my sister-in-law posted! Wait, what’s this angry comment down below the video? Huh, what’s Lynx? What do they mean, ‘degrading?’ Let me Google the parent company, ‘Unilever.’ Wait a second… Dove is owned by the same company that puts out those awful Axe ads and promote the sexualization of women while Dove is running an ad telling women not to listen to the degrading advertising? What hypocrites! I… ugh… DARN YOU INTERNET!”

Information is available everywhere, whether you want to hear about the exploitation of workers in the coffee industry or the fair trade coffee industry, or the destruction of the rain forests to get palm oil for our body lotion, or the prevalence of sweat shops in India where clothes are made. All over the place, people shout out solutions: boycott this company, support that company, only buy secondhand, grow your own food, only get union-made supplies. The list goes on and on. My head starts to spin. This company uses ethical United States labor, but has sexually degrading ads. That company promotes positive use of the environment, but exploits its workers. This company claims to be responsible, but how can I trust them? 

That’s when I give up. Most people do. Eventually we assume that there’s always going to be destruction of the rainforests, and slavery and exploitation and sexualization and everything else. Cynicism seeps in. We figure that if we just close our eyes, we won’t be responsible for the evils of the world.

On days like this, though, as the spark of pain reignites in me, I realize that I can’t close my eyes. This is still the world I live in, and although I’ll never even be able to make a dent in the injustice, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t do my best to live a responsible life. Of course, knowing what that looks like is almost impossible to tell. It’s useless to run around yelling at everyone who eats Hershey’s cocoa. It’s pointless to try to take the burden on your own shoulders. It’ll drive you insane. 

On the other hand, though, the worst thing you can do is turn a blind eye. Nothing good comes from that— only bad. I encourage you to care, even if you can only tackle one small issue and care about that. Petition for it. Raise awareness. Write companies. Talk to your friends about it. Pray, pray, pray.

The Internet is here, and with it more information than has ever been available to the average person before. Don’t turn away from that source of knowledge, no matter how painful it may be.


1 comment:

  1. You are so right. Additionally, there is a lot of information on the internet, but there is also a lot of MISinformation. It's important to verify the information and not just jump on a bandwagon of an emotionally charged call to action. That way we spend our time wisely fighting fights that are real and that matter instead of reposting hearsay. You do a great job of verifying your sources and staying level-headed!