vpi mumorial? is it just silent slackivism? Steli Efti “had to do something” about the terrible tragedy last week at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where 33 victims died. So, he came up with the idea of the One Day Blog Silence on April 30th, to honor the VPI victims and their families; he later extended the scope of the event to include “all victims” of violence worldwide. For Steli (who calls himself The Supercool Principal of Supercool School and “a serial entrepreneur with expertise in sales, marketing, neuro-linguistic-programming & learning techniques”) “doing something” is not writing at his weblog and launching a non-writing memorial event. Although I don’t want to fall into the negativity trap decried at The Wrong Advices, I do want to:
- Declare that having my weblog go dark for a day does not — for me — seem like a useful way to honor the VPI victims. It certainly does not have the impact of the two-minute national silence in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day (beautifully described by Lorelle in her post “Silence is a Memoriam, Not a Reason to Stop Blogging”) Like Diane Levin at Online Guide to Mediation, I intend no disrespect to the many good-intentioned bloggers who join One Day of Silence, “But I have to ask, why? Why be silent? What is the point? Why not use this as an opportunity to speak out? To rage against the machine? To stand up for whatever cause you believe in that will reduce human suffering or end violence?” (via LegalBlogWatch)
- Point out the similarity of One Day Blog Silence to the symbolic and too-easy gestures that have been called slacktivism. Diane Levin has a good point, when she says “Or, better yet [than writing about a cause], get away from the keyboard and actually do something?” As I noted in the posting “activism requires action,” discussing Not One Damn Dime Day:
- activism takes action not faux-action, as with
- likely results are highly correlated with amount and duration of effort
- preaching to the choir is not an effective way to change minds (and neither is self-congratulation over your moral or intellectual superiority)
- Opine that respecting the good intentions of others and their mode of expressing grief, dissent, or support, does not require instantly adopting their suggestions and passing them around the internet. We each get to say, or at least ask ourselves: Does that make sense? For me? Is it likely to be effective? Are there better ways to make the point effectively? [see our post “another one-day-gas boycott.” update: 9 PM: by coincidence, someone did a search today at Google for /gas boycott effective/ and our one-day boycott post was the #1 result.]
- Note my confusion over the posting at geeksugar.com, which asserts: “One Day Blog Silence does not mean that all of us bloggers need to set our computers aside and stop writing. Rather, it is a chance for us to post the One Day Blog graphic on our sites to show remembrance and respect for the victims and their families. No words and comments are needed. Although you are encouraged and welcome to discuss this tragedy if you feel the need to do so.” For me, being nice and showing solidarity does not mean posting someone’s logo and then ignoring its message.
Those of us who do not join the One Day Blog Silence perhaps have a responsibility to spend some time preparing a thoughtful posting for that day related to the violence at VPI.
Stillness of sand
in the hourglass bottom–
the sound of wind
The all-day snow–
in its bud vase
one rose tightly closed
from the bus stop–
late autumn sun
………… by Rebecca Lilly, from Acorn #18 (2007)
. . . On the other hand, when tempted to use your cellphone while driving, it is almost always a good idea to maintain your silence. I’ve been writing about this topic for years (e.g., here and there) — and about the fact that banning handhelds is not sufficient, because the problem is one of distraction, which is just as bad when using headsets or speakerphones. However, I won’t get on my soapbox yet again to rail about the irresponsibility and purposeful denial of those who put themselves and others in danger by attending to cellphones or Blackberries instead of attending to their driving. Nonetheless, in the spirit of doing (a little) something about it, I am mailing away today to the good folk at npr’s Car Talk show, for their yellow, red and gray bumper sticker, “Drive Now .. Talk Later!” And I am telling you how to get a free copy yourself. (You can get multiple copies for 20 cents each, but must agree not to resell them). As Tom and Ray Magliozzi explain (while also revealing their preferred, but npr-rejected, wording):
For a free “Drive Now, Talk Later” Car Talk bumper sticker, just send a self-addressed business-size envelope with 39 cents [or the current first-class] postage on it to:
Car Talk Plaza
Box 3500 Harvard Square
Cambridge, MA 02238
I’ve never attached a bumper sticker to any vehicle of mine. I plan to put one instead at on the inside bottom of my rear window, and place another one on the window behind my driver’s seat.
Special thanks to the woman in the brandnew blue SUV on Clinton St. in Schenectady last Thursday, who inspired me to finally send for the Car Talk bumper sticker. First, she almost ran over me as a pedestrian in the crosswalk, as she illegally used a handheld cellphone while turning from Union St. Then, she blocked my driving away from my parking space for a couple of minutes, because she continued on the phone while simultaneously attempting to parallel park in the space ahead of me.
the old man stops
at a green light
driving into the sunset
….. by dagosan