By Tyla Cloete
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
The Covid-19 pandemic is showing the cracks within society. It is unmasking the existing social, economic, political and environmental issues that have been neglected. We turn then to social media to express our fear, outrage and to reveal the violence and suffering that people are experiencing. We do this without taking the time to be sensitive about the issues we are discussing, and we do not hold enough knowledge to be open to debate and critique when our viewpoints are ridiculed by the public. Where then do we draw the line between openly expressing our thoughts and opinions and talking about an issue we know a little about?
I want to pose this question: Does social media offer us enough tools to have discussions and debates around issues on racism, politics, violence, sexism and discrimination? Can social media represent the truth and inform us about the issues that are in the world? It cannot be denied that its popularity is due to how accessible it is to most, and because the content is easy to understand. Often knowledge around theories and ideologies are non-existent on social media. We then have a responsibility to delve deeper and to do our own research to become more conscious about the world and build our knowledge on the issues we are interested in.
Political education can offer the insight we need to sharpen our existing knowledge or add some value to it. It does not only need to be found in an academic journal or a book but can also be found in forms of podcasts, series or documentaries. These spaces can allow us to build new knowledge and skills to become aware of political issues and processes that occur in society. Through reading, listening and debating key issues, we can take an active role to participate in and build our democracy. We also need to make sure we are not only engaged in one particular viewpoint but are open to multiple and competing ideas. This leaves room for discourse and to increase our political consciousness so that we can begin making the changes that we need to. In this action of choosing to engage, listen, participate and to develop our knowledge further, it starts the process of dismantling the norms and structures we have become accustomed to.
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