5 Tech Tools for Resistance to Find Purpose With This Week

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feature image via Shutterstock.

I’m really down on technology right now. Mostly because the industry is doing things like this:

Algorithms are one of the reasons we’re in this mess. Humans falling for computers tricked by other humans. It took Twitter until after white nationalists won an election to suspend white nationalist accounts. I wonder day in and day out why Donald Trump, a white nationalist, still has his Twitter account. Does Twitter have an obligation to shut down his account if he’s using it to provoke China? Do they have an obligation not to, due to some very romantic idea about equalizing speech on their platform? Ack.

It is so, so hard for me to focus on anything but the ways in which technology has failed us right now. I’ve tried to be productive. I’ve tried to be instructive. But this week, I was just angry. I almost wrote an essay about all the technology I’d like to punch—and there have been plenty of those. Rachel had to talk me down. She suggested I try something I haven’t yet — productive, instructive… maybe positive?

So here are a few ways in which very smart people are already using technology to resist and tell truths. Let’s hope this can be a turning point in the ways we allow cyberspace to impact meatspace. And no one but no one follow Donald Trump on Twitter DON’T DO THAT.

A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment

Sherman Alexie is talking writing in the time of Trump on his once-defunct, now-returned podcast entitled A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment.

Technology used: audio production, podcast syndication

Why this is good, from his interview with The Stranger:

“I’m not one of those artist-writers who thinks they have any real power. I’m laughing because they’ve already begun the calls for Poets Against Trump anthologies — talk about the most powerless gesture in the history of the world. But what we can do with art is become spiritual boosters. I think we can be spiritually nourishing even if we have no political power. We end up being the equivalent of noise-canceling headphones.”

Stop Normalizing Alt-Right

This plug-in changes any mention of alt-right to white supremacy. If you already have this plug-in, that sentence was confusing and also very, very true.

Technology used: Chrome plug-in

Why this is good: while it doesn’t actually stop the media from normalizing white supremacy, I like to think of Chrome plug-ins like this one (or like this one) as hyper-modern performance art for the masses. I disagree with Alexie; I DO think art can change things. Experiencing this type of art in browsers everywhere is a pretty cool thing. I’m not NOT gonna tell you to install it on every public computer you come across.

Call The Halls

You might recall Emily Ellsworth’s series of viral tweets about calling Congress. She knows what’s up, she’s worked for Congress for six years. She has some good advice for calling Congress (though it should be known that you can really only talk to your own representatives). She’s turned some of that advice into a digital book and worksheet, available at a sliding scale. It’s called Call The Halls.

Technology used: Twitter, Storify, Gumroad

Why this is good: Using self-publishing and digital media to spread useful information in times of crisis is one of the ways we can be using technology for good instead of for Voldemort. It’s faster than making a zine and because digital files can be copied an infinite number of times, it’ll never run out. Plus it’s sliding scale, so if you can’t afford anything, you can still has info.

Do A Thing and Wall-Of-Us

I’ve seen a proliferation of email newsletters designed to ease people into political action (we covered some of them last week). The two I subscribe to are Do A Thing by Shannon and Jane (also has A+ animal photos) and Wall-Of-Us. Do A Thing is daily and has one thing to do a day. Wall-of-Us is weekly and has four things to do a week.

Technology used: email newsletter

Why this is good: Email newsletters feel personal and this should feel personal. We can’t ever stop taking it personally. Plus bite-sized chunks are excellent for people new to calling representatives or being politically active. These also focus our energy on completing concrete, accomplishable tasks.

We The People

While it lasts, let’s make use of We The People. It probably won’t do shit during Trump’s white nationalist administration, but right now there’s a petition to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served. Regardless of how you feel about Manning’s specific case, her treatment in prison has been objectively vile, and it’s reasonable to think that her treatment will be much worse.

Technology used: online petition

Why this is good: Trans women shouldn’t be in men’s facilities in general, Chelsea Manning is in danger specifically, and also let’s make our voices heard while it still counts.

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A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 543 articles for us.

6 Comments

  1. These are great resources! I will definitely be subscribing to the Do a Thing newsletter.

    In the same spirit, I wanted to share a tool I made to make calling your elected representatives easier — http://callgov.us finds your representatives’ phone numbers based on your address, and has a shared database of scripts that you can contribute to. Hopefully this is helpful to some of y’all wanting to be heard!

  2. Due to the needs of the presidency and the infancy of Twitter, I believe on the very hour that Donald Trump and Mike Pence take the oath of office their personal accounts should be suspended by Twitter. Nothing against either one but everything they say now is recorded and sent to the National Archives. Obama can now have his own twitter account on the same hour that Donald loses his. Once you become president or vice president you no longer are a private citizen. You can no longer have a personal twitter account. I think for now on Twitter should take the extra step and suspend personal accounts of all future presidents without any action taken from our govt. They may get them back when they leave the White House.

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