By Laura Moore
They cannot act without consequence.
They do not have the ability to silence.
They do not have the strength to keep people down against their will.
For years, humans have been taunted, teased, beat-up, and fear and ignorance have provoked reprehensible actions. Shouts have silenced whispers, power has pulverized promise and tradition has trounced on new ideas. Bigger hands have been able to muffle smaller mouths. Bigger arms have been able to restrain smaller wrists. And bigger players in the clubhouse of tradition have been able to knock out the resistance, to push it into back rooms, to tuck it under the rug, to silence it, to keep it from rising up and into plain sight.
But not anymore.
See, in the midst of our current dialogue about sexual assault on college campuses, most notably at both the University of Virginia and Columbia University, and our dialogue about how #blacklivesmatter following what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City, New York, and our dialogue about the racist songs sung by the Oklahoma University Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers, and about the dialogue that followed a flurry of hateful messages combatted by a student at my alma mater, I couldn't help but notice something has changed.
Something IS different.
Something is a little bit new.
See, today--even with all of its flaws, even with all of the new ways people can be harassed--social media has offered space for smaller mouths to shout, space for tiny wrists to fight, space for the untraditional voices to rise. Everything is public, every action can be captured, every behavior is part of the script, part of the dialogue, part of a million other lives. The doors have been opened, the curtains have been drawn, private rooms are no longer private, and words and actions are no longer susceptible to forgetfulness or editing or denial...they are fossilized, screen shotted, backed up, recorded.
They are part of a public record.
The are part of us all.
As I hear "bullies" who have been caught speak out about their mistakes, as I hear of this person and this person getting fired from their jobs on account of their hateful comments, as I see the onslaught of support for people who had the courage to speak out, I realize that the power is shifting. The mute button has been turned off and the volume has been raised. The status quo is being questioned and the masks that once kept us from seeing the truth--the sometimes ugly truth--are wearing thinner and thinner.
Love it or hate it, we live in a transparent cage, a snow globe of interconnectedness. There is nowhere for us to go, to hide from the lens, and while there are droves and droves of reasons why that's a bad thing, today, I can't stop thinking about how it's good. About how it makes us accountable. About how it has shifted power into the hands of those who were once powerless.
It has given us a mirror and a window.
It teaches us--it shows us--over and over, that words and actions bleed with permanent ink.
So despite all of the hateful chatter and the disheartening actions, despite all of the reasons I have to fear the excessive accessibility we have, despite all of the ways I resist our lack of privacy, I can't help but feel hopeful. I can't help but imagine change is on the horizon.
I can't help but see a world where goodness, kindness and compassion will ultimately prevail.