Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A few excerpts from Mere Orthodoxy: American Power & Millenial Social Activism


Self-deception is the inevitable corollary of an emphasis on authenticity, and if ever there was a generation attached to the idea it’s we millenials. In moments like Kony 2012, it becomes clear that we tend to privilege earnestness: Good intentions are sacrosanct, especially when married to the intuitive pragmatism of “doing something.”


To return full circle, then, social media campaigns like Kony 2012 don’t simply “raise awareness” for a noble and good end. They are far more complicated, as any sort of robust communication ought be if it is to be anything more than mindless propaganda. The praiseworthiness of the creator’s intentions obscures the reality that such campaigns depend upon certain beliefs and attitudes for their existence and effectiveness, and that such beliefs are subsequently deepened when the campaign succeeds. In the case of Kony, American power is the presupposition on which the campaign depends for its success, and which will inevitably be reaffirmed.

Which is why the counter-reaction of questioning is indispensable, even if in its worst forms it is merely reactionary and dismissive. Without it, the feedback loop will be officially closed, and the messages that are conveyed will be only reinforcing of what we already claim to know.


This I find fascinating, particularly the statement, in bold text in its original form, that the inevitable corrolary of an emphasis on authenticity is self-deception. Authenticity may sometimes be the most pernicious affectation of all.

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