“I can remember quite clearly what the value was of my mother preparing a dish, and letting us kids give feedback on the taste before serving it to the whole family.”
— Rick Bayless
Writers can create some delicious fare, but it’s unfair (to us all) to omit input from those who digest their words. I’ll elaborate.
Arguably, the biggest problem for activists across the board seems to be their reluctance to encourage contact. Of course, organizers invite contact when they’re seeking funds and/or setting up an event and/or trying to secure signatures for a petition. That sort of thing goes on all the time. But the lack of “contact” I’m speaking of has to do with posted writers not providing email addresses at the end of articles, or easy access via some other means.
Pick out a handful of alternative media outlets, if you will, and conduct your own survey; see how many pieces give contact info adjacent to the author’s name. I trust that you’ll be absolutely shocked at the low percentage. In some relatively few instances websites will be given, but that’s more of a generic gesture than what I’m talking about. Here I’m attempting to underscore the poor grades most writers must be given for not encouraging readers to contact them directly respecting essays which might have truly generated excitement, motivated deeply through the sharing of information or singular point of view.
Too much faith is being given over to the notion that inspired readers will follow through on issues spotlighted by an author on their own. Well, they do not, as a rule. And because that’s a fact in the lives of alternative readers and viewers, great inspiring pieces wind up being entertainment, distractions from action and/or diversions from engaging in in-depth exchanges. In short, readers of articles and viewers of videos tend to move from one entry and posting to another, never really getting down with meaningful discussion of any kind. Which precludes fresh ingredients being used in the activist mix. The kind that can only be derived from focused collective energy.
The best creative juices can be stirred up by having writers and readers interact with one another. No one has to have answers, but there can be a collective acknowledgement that coming up with authentically fresh approaches is contingent upon contact between, say, the cook and the customer.
Perhaps such a blending will give birth to a new ingredient. Maybe such (rare) movement in solidarity will result in… a new dish, lasting results.
There is no question that select writers should NOT be pressured to interact with their readers, but that demographic is small indeed. The vast majority of those who submit articles for posting — some truly inspiring — need to see the benefit of making themselves accessible. For the purpose of serving the Collective Good. Food for thought?
Such connection is resisted for various reasons, and that dynamic represents a daunting challenge in the activist realm.
Muhammad Othman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.