Break the Chain Mental Blackout

Exclusive (5/31/2001) What better way to spend the first night of summer than by sitting in the dark in a so-called protest that won't bring about any real change? This piece of Armchair Activism is a waste of time and bandwidth.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

ROLL YOUR OWN BLACKOUT
THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER
JUNE 21, 2001 THURS EVE,
7-10pm worldwide, all time zones

As an alternative to George W. Bush's energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 at 7pm - 10pm in any time zone (this will roll it across the planet). Its a simple protest and a symbolic act. Turn out your lights from 7pm-10pm on June 21. Unplug whatever you can unplug in your house.

Light a candle to the Sungoddess, kiss and tell or not, take a stroll in the dark, invent ghost stories, anything that's not electronic - have fun in the dark.

Forward this email as widely as possible, to your government representatives and environmental contacts.

Let them know we want global education, participation and funding in conservation, efficiency and alternative fuel efforts -- and an end to over-exploitation and misuse of the earth's resources.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

As one chain-breaker asked when he brought this one to my attention, what happens when the voluntary roll-out is over and everyone "lights up?"

"Have you ever flipped on all the lights at one time? Not a good idea. Imagine it happening on a global scale."

This is yet another beautiful example of Armchair Activism. Stick your head out the window and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it any more..." but only if it's not too much trouble. We're quick to jump on the bandwagon and say we did our part, as long as it's easy to do.

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But, an effective protest usually incorporates inconvenience. Either the protesters show that they are willing to be inconvenienced if it will bring about change (i.e., getting arrested or chaining themselves to trees), or they show that they are willing and able to inconvenience the party being protested (i.e., public pickets and negative publicity) to resolve an issue. Turning out our lights and unplugging "whatever you can unplug" isn't really hard to do and certainly isn't going to inconvenience the powers that be. Sure it's a symbolic act, but it isn't public. What good is a symbol if nobody sees it?

Besides, the root of "activism" is active." Forwarding a boycott chain like this one is one of the least active things you can do. If you want to make a real stand, launch a letter-writing campaign to your congressmen. Protest your utility companies. Advocate for alternative fuels and conservation on a local level. But, most importantly, Break this Chain!

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: None

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