Social media has given me the greatest gift of all and now is the time to give back

Social media has given my heart more empathy to the suffering of others than I can describe. Because have lived vicariously through other's personal experiences in a personal way. These first-hand accounts are the real deal and far more powerful than any news story. I am not a nurse, or a social worker, or an EMT, or a teacher, or in the military or in any other occupation like so many amazing people dealing with real issues first hand. I am an artist and I picked that profession specifically because I am talented in that field and because I don't have to confront hard issues everyday in the same way other professions do. I make brochures. And my largest disaster on the job is a fully printed project with a typo.

Social media has given me a front row seat to situations like no generation before me has had. It is deafening. Sometimes I have to look away for self-care. But it is no longer one photo on the cover of the local paper or a news story. It is real and it is happening to people I know. It is no longer happening to other people I don't know. It is now happening to MY PEOPLE.

I worked in Sanford Florida when Trayvon Martin was killed and watch with a national while looking at the town in a whole new light.

I know people who ran in the Boston marathon in 2013.

I rejoiced in 2015 with my LGBTQ+ friends who cried tears of joy that they could now be free to love like the rest of us.

I have a friend who lost someone in the theater shooting in Aurora Colorado.

I have friends who lost loved ones and friends at Pulse and others who met the loves of their life there. I watched as they all marked themselves as 'safe' on Facebook after that horrific night. 

I have friends who stood with Black Lives Matter across the country. Blocking freeways, getting arrested, and being called snowflakes.

I know school workers and teachers that had to help kids through the shooting of Philando Castile and try to explain how this could have happened.

I watched as friends of mine struggled living on medical disability, had extensive medical procedures that needed coverage, and saw all the complications and the necessity for medical coverage for all.

I know people who were at Standing Rock protesting with thousands of others for the right to have clean water.

And I also knew hundreds in my home state who completely turned their back against Standing Rock claiming they were doing it all for money.

I watched while a close friend documented her experience of Harvey while living in Houston.

I watched as friends and colleagues around the world Marched for Women's rights on January 21, 2017.

I cried with my trans friends who did nothing to become a scapegoats of ignorant political plays.

And I am terrified that someone I care about is Dreamer that is now not protected.

And with Irma ramping up I sit nervously for all my friends in the path of the storm. They are all people I love and care about. And I am going to watch it all happen to MY PEOPLE.

Social media has shown me these real experiences. And human life doesn't seem like 'politics' to me any longer. It is human life. We are causing global warming and denying that and pretending the loss of life doesn't have a cause isn't 'politics.' We have racial hatred in this country and standing on the wrong side of history isn't 'politics.' We have gun control issues in this country and it isn't 'politics.' Sports teams getting away with gang rape and women's assaults on college campuses are out of control and it isn't 'politics' Judging people based on the religion they practice, how they look, and whether they deserve to have equal rights isn't 'politics.' We need to stop dividing up human beings into boxes. This isn't a game of 'One of these things is not like the other.' Saying you are praying via social media for these people is not taking action. Being silent while watching the government take away all funding for those in need is not taking action.

I am sorry and ashamed that I have 'stayed in my lane' as an artist. I am going to try to make more of an impact and make a difference where I can for all of us. 

I am going to try to make a difference. And I am honestly scared. I am worried what people will say, I fear confrontation, and getting threatening emails and harassing comments online. It is terrifying but I have to try to make a difference with what I can do. After all I am a white middle class woman and I enjoy safety and privilege many will never know. I need to stop making excuses about offending people, not having enough time, and the fear of confrontation. I can do better. I hope we all can do better.

"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." - Jane Goodall