#BringBackOurGirls: Does Internet Activism Work or Are You Justified in Being a Cynical, Cold-Hearted Asshole (Spoilers: You're Not Justified)

#BringBackOurGirls. Over the past several weeks, this slogan has dominated social media like no other. It has been at the center of a Twitter campaign, a Facebook campaign, an Instagram campaign… pretty much, if social media exists, it is carrying this message. The campaign started in response to a horrible atrocity being committed in Nigeria where militant terrorists (they claim to be Islamist but they are in fact, simple gun-toting thugs) have kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls. Yes, there are parts of the world still where it is the completely non-joking belief that women have no right to learn. The girls were kidnapped… weeks went by, nothing happened. Then there was a speech, a speech by Oby Ezekwesili, vice president of the World Bank for Africa. For anyone out there wondering where the slogan, “Bring Back Our Girls” came from, there is the answer. This slogan was picked up by Nigerian tweeters and circulated the world quickly. It wasn’t long before celebrities got involved, and then there was this:

First Lady Michelle Obama endorsing the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
First Lady Michelle Obama endorsing the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

Let me stop right here and say that, even if this campaign had no effect, this gesture was (at worst) a kind thought; the equivalent of saying “hope you have a nice day” to a stranger on the street. Yeah, it doesn’t really do anything, but no one suffers because of it. Michelle Obama is the First Lady, not the President. She is not leading the free world, she has time for niceties such as this (if nicety had been all it was).

Of course, in the land of America (pronounced ‘Murrica), everything is political. This act was dissected and dissenters emerged:

Which, of course, merited a response:

(Apologies for the low quality on the Jon Stewart clip, I wanted to make sure our friends outside of ‘Murrica would have a working link)

You have to love the first world. It truly is a land of luxury. First world country (or rich, technologically sophisticated country) citizens have a luxury that other, less fortunate parts of the world do not. We can turn fact into opinion. Climate change, I don’t believe in it. No, no! Do not show me all of this “scientific data” and “unanimous agreement” that says it is, I can counter with one guy who says it’s not… so really it’s all equal. Of course, none of that matters to us in the first world. We will probably be able to avert the catastrophe of climate change while only countries like Africa suffer

See here’s the thing. I’ve been looking around the interwebs and it’s only here, in first world places, where the effectiveness of this campaign is being debated. If you ask Nigeria… you get the more cut-and-dry answer of: we started the campaign for a reason you idiots! But what do they know, they’re from the third world… where you actually have to be intelligent or tenacious to stay alive.

I could give a link demonstrating how this campaign has been effective (here you go) and I could give a link showing how it hasn’t (I’m not going to cause it’s my blog, my choice). Let me just say this instead: doing something, even if that something might not work out in a positive way, is always – ALWAYS – better than openly doing nothing while criticizing people who are trying. There is a word for that in the English language, and I believe those people are called f*ckheads.

Ann Coutler proves once again that she can bring less to the value of humanity than anyone else alive.
Ann Coulter proves once again that she can bring less to the value of humanity than anyone else alive.

There exists a depressing amount of horrible action in the world, and for most of it there is no response. The fact that the first world is concerned, actively concerned, is victory. The fact that the United States has sent people to help is a victory. You can not like the Michelle Obama picture… more to you if you don’t, but do not sit back and smugly say: “that will never work” without doing some f*cking homework to see how atrocities take place and how they are prevented. The vast majority of horrible things happened without the world knowing about them until it was too late (like say, the Holocaust). When the world is watching, less shit tends to happen. That is the power of the internet, that is why Edward Snowden is seen as either a traitor or a hero. Using the internet to spread awareness and information is one of the most powerful weapons out there.

Man, remember when people were wasting time talking about gay marriage? Nothing got accomplished there, right...
Man, remember when people were wasting time talking about gay marriage? Nothing got accomplished there, right…

Can social media campaigns single-handedly change the world: no. They are nothing more than a tool or a gun. As always, the power lies with the people. I do not know if the girls will be found. I sincerely hope that they will and that these thugs are put to justice. I do know this, however. Given how the situation was going before #BringBackOurGirls started… there was no chance that they would have be found. People were doing nothing until social pressure (spurred on by social media) forced action.

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