By Stephen Polk
Komorebi Post – For 33 days, the US government has been in partial shutdown. For 33 days, 800,000 federal workers have either been furloughed without pay or continue to work without pay. All so President Donald Trump can leverage for his coveted, ineffective, and asinine border wall. This grave injustice and misuse of power shows no sign of slowing as we continue to count the days our government refuses to work fully for this nation. Every day this continues sets a new record for longest government shutdown in US history. This wall, much like the President himself, is not something most Americans want. Just as the majority of Americans did not vote for the current president, a poll from CBS news shows that 59 percent of Americans oppose the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico.
The Role of Social Media
As the case with all technology, social media is neutral by design. It harbors no ill-will nor altruism on its own. It is simply a means to connect, share, and engage in dialogues with any number of people around the world. Many Americans have used their platform to express their disapproval. Often times, this is done through memes. However, the inverse is also true. Those who do support the border wall have taken to the internet to raise funding for the project. Regardless of the side, both the internet and social media have been, and will continue to be, used to forward the agenda of both the supporters and opponents of this heated debate.
Double-Edged Sword of an Open Forum
This open exchange of ideas, while a great boon and staple of free expression, is not without its draw backs. It has lead to an oversaturation of public opinion and a diminishment of professional credibility and fact checking. An ironic turn of events given how available information is in the digital age, yet understandable. With such a vast amount of information, the task of sifting through the noise to find the truth is an overwhelming prospect to the average user. Yet, despite this, it is imperative we take it upon ourselves to fact check what shows up in our social newsfeeds or timelines. In an article from the New York Times in 2017, it was reported that Russia used Facebook in influencing the 2016 presidential election. They were successful in their attempts. In addition to this, the ability for individuals to share their opinions and thought through an unfiltered forum can end with harming your cause. In a now deleted tweet from Donald Trump Jr., he compared the border wall with zoo fencing. This horrendous analogy carried tones of comparing Mexican immigrants to zoo animals. Though he deleted the tweet, the damage had been done. He undermined his own cause and furthered the sentiment that this border wall is a symbol of racism and white supremacy.
The Wall Cannot Stop the Spreading of Ideas
Though Donald Trump wants to use this wall to keep people out, it will never keep out the free-exchange of ideas. It will not keep out his detractors and the journalists he has deemed the enemy of the people. He can attempt to hide behind his barriers, but he cannot hide from the truth of the matter. With the internet at our disposal, and if used responsibly, we are armed with the most powerful asset: Information. Information to find the cracks in his proverbial barricade that shelters and convinces him he is never in the wrong. Armed with information we can let his president know that the majority of Americans do not support his monumentally ridiculous wall. We will not be silent in this shutdown. We will exercise our right to make our voices heard.