“Online” is “real life” as well

A lot of people around me, and I am certain around you, make a distinction between their lives online and offline. This distinction is a lie. Our civic responsibilities do not disappear just because we are on Snapchat or Tumblr or Facebook. Whatever we choose to say has the exact same impact on the person at the other side of the conversation as it does afk.

Telling someone to go offline to get away from trolls is like telling them to stop leaving the house. Maybe it’s safer in there, but you can’t survive if you never leave. Many people need to be online to do work, attend school, and get important information. We literally can’t find out what our president-elect is saying if we don’t log into Twitter once in a while. “Going offline” isn’t a real option anymore.

As we continue forward into the twenty-first century, we need to take seriously the fact that every aspect of our lives has an online component, whether we like it or not. There is no such thing as an exclusively online movement or social experience. Our real lives, what we do in the streets, are wired into computer networks. The way those networks are run and the rules that govern them are explicitly political.

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