Columns / Discourse / October 24, 2012

Striking pop politics

With the end of the teachers’ strike in Chicago, no one could be happier to return to their undisturbed lives. Sure, Facebook exploded for the week. It was a hot topic for a few fiery days and then … crickets.

Unfortunately, this is a trend. The world of social media makes it too easy to re-post or to “like” an issue instead of doing something about it. You can post as many pictures of abandoned dogs as you want, but that won’t get them adopted. I believe that any one of those dogs would prefer that you volunteer at an animal shelter for an hour or make a donation.

Raising awareness. That is the reasoning often given to these social media crusades. While there is some value in that, I find that it can also be detrimental. For many people it serves as a kind of moral checklist. If you click on the link, watch this video or like that status then you have done your good deed for the day.

Awareness is great, but being aware isn’t good enough. You need to do something about it.  Thanks to social media outlets —  the ad campaign Kony 2012 led by Invisible Children — the crimes of Joseph Kony, received a rush of attention in early March. This head of a Ugandan guerilla group is charged with the abduction of children to become sex slaves and child soldiers and was the hot-topic for a few weeks.

But come October, the child soldiers are forgotten by the masses in favor of the newest philanthropic trend. When something that strikes our interest comes up, we shouldn’t just continue scrolling through our newsfeeds. We need to be active.

The teachers’ strike in Chicago is a prime example of passivity. It is an issue that affected and continues to affect people of all ages throughout the nation. It is an issue that we cannot afford to forget or oversimplify and yet we seem to be doing just that.

This is an issue that extends beyond North America. On Saturday, Peruvian doctors agreed to suspend a strike that had been initiated for a number of reasons, but was focused on pay. “The government — which has also faced a teachers’ strike — has said pay must be based on performance.” Sound familiar?

Both strikes hit the same demographic: lower-income individuals, especially those who cannot afford private health care or education.
According to the same BBC article, some 1.5 million medical appointments had to be missed due to the strike in Peru. Those are 1.5 million instances of individuals failing to have their basic needs met.

This is the direction the U.S. is headed in, and the lower class is the one that suffers.

The public school teachers of Chicago were able to reach a compromise with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the school reforms that caused their first strike in 25 years. This contract was ratified with a 79.1 percent majority from the union and resulted in a pay raise. However, standardized testing is continuing to affect the school system.

This issue did not disappear overnight, so we can’t afford to fall asleep on the issue either. The best way to take an active step in the near future is to vote in the upcoming election.

Tags:  doctor facebook Peru social media strike teacher

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Samantha Paul
Samantha Paul is a senior double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She previously served as both a news reporter and a copy editor for TKS. During the summer of 2012, Sam served as press chair of a literacy brigade in El Salvador. She has also interned with both Bloom Magazine and The Galesburg Register-Mail. At Knox, Sam is an organizational editor for Catch magazine.

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