A lot of people like to discredit social media. A lot of people think things like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a complete waste of time. And if you were born sometime between 1945 and 1964, you are likely one of these people. It’s no secret that boomers (generally speaking) love to criticize social media more than anything (well… aside from playing mahjong. They fucking love mahjong), and to be fair, I can see where they are coming from. To them, social media is a space where people share information with virtual strangers; take photos of their meals, or see what their favourite celebrity thinks about on a daily basis. For a lot of social media users this might be the only thing they’re interested in. But for some it’s a platform that helps their voice be heard without the limitations of time, location or social position. Social media, and more specifically Twitter, can actually be used as a powerful tool to promote change. And that is why this week’s Monday Morning Muse is dedicated to Zerlina Maxwell.
Zerlina Maxwell is “a political analyst, speaker, and contributing writer for ESSENCE Magazine. She writes about national politics, candidates, and specific policy and culture issues including feminism, domestic violence, sexual assault, victim blaming and gender inequality. She has consulted with the United States Department of State to promote the use of social media by students in the West Bank and is a frequent speaker at colleges, universities, and organizations about rape culture and feminism.” (zerlinamaxwell.com) Zerlina Maxwell is a survivor and a fighter and encourages others to use their voices any way they can to promote positive social change.
If you look on Zerlina Maxwell’s Twitter feed you will find that she does not shy away from any topic. Zerlina promotes the use of social media as a means to engage in critical conversations surrounding current events. In an article written by Scott Bortot back in 2011 he mentions Zerlina’s outlook on social media. Zerlina states that “in environments where all traditional media is blocked by regimes, social media is used by the people […] It is a modern-day version of how they used to organize during the civil rights movement” (Bortot, 2011). Within this article she notes, “Social media doesn’t bring about change. But it allows for the people who want to create the change to organize […] I don’t think that Twitter is going to make a revolution happen but it can allow the people that want to create a revolution to pick a time and location.”
In our opinion, Zerlina Maxwell uses Twitter to the fullest and is an example of how one person can create change using the tools available to them. Zerlina engages in critical conversations surrounding current events while offering insight to those who may otherwise feel removed from the situation. Through the space she has created for herself on Twitter, she is not only able to challenge those in power, she is also able to reach people who need a voice, telling them that their lives matter, that they are valuable and their voice is heard.