Where can I find some like-minded people in RL and on the internet?
October 28, 2013 12:45 AM   Subscribe

Lately I've been feeling pretty isolated because none of my friends really share my views on civil rights or social justice. The people I know who are more progressive are really militant and extreme and they're not very helpful to be around either due to their rather harsh approach to their various causes. Where on the internet and in real life can I as a white girl go to be part of a community that is proactive and progressive towards intersectionality, feminism, LGBTQ rights, and similar topics?

This has been brought on by me making a post on FB to encourage people to not dress up as Native American/Indians/other marginalized groups for Halloween and having multiple people make fun of me for it and then ask me why I’m championing such a thing when what I should really be worried about are zombie rights so basically I am really over a lot of humanity right now and I need some other people to talk to.
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
There are some terrific social-justice-oriented groups in the Ravelry forums. It's a site for fibre crafters (knitters, crocheters, spinners), and I don't know if you do any of those crafts but really, I'm in a few groups and we talk about everything but knitting, most of the time! I mean, if you do knit or crochet it's a great resource, and I use it A LOT for that, too, but if you have ever even *considered* picking up one of those crafts, I'd say you should join! You don't have to wait for an invite anymore; you just sign up and then choose the discussion groups that appeal to you.

You would probably like the group This Is What A Feminist Knits Like. There are always active discussion topics and people are great and supportive. The discussions tend to range around not just feminism but also racism, classism, homophobia. Lots of lovely like-minded people there! They would absolutely understand your FB post and be behind you 100%.

The groups I belong to on the Rav forums are the only other places on the internet I can think of where the discourse is as high-quality as it is here. (Caveat: there's a lot of diversity on Rav; do choose your groups carefully. Can't go wrong with the This Is What A Feminist Knits Like group though.)

[There is also a Metafilter group there if you are interested. I haven't joined it only because I try to keep my real-life identity separate from my MeFi identity and I use my real name on Ravelry because because I've got a lot of IRL friends there.]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:22 AM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I don't know of any groups to participate in at the moment, but am grateful that you posted this because I am struggling with many of the same issues myself. I will watch this thread, and please feel free to memail me if you would like to talk :)
posted by tanuki.gao at 1:28 AM on October 28, 2013

Mod note: A couple of comments deleted; not the place for zombie jokes or zombie discussions, or jokes, period. Likewise, not the place to discuss social justice issues generally. Also, go ahead and assume that the OP knows about Metafilter. Helpful comments, please.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:47 AM on October 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Your local Unitarian Universalist congregation will likely have a number of people interested in and involved with social justice issues.
posted by booksherpa at 1:57 AM on October 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

For online contacts, you might be able to find suitable communities on LiveJournal or Dreamwidth. Both of these places seem to have an above-average number of people who are interested in social justice issues.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:33 AM on October 28, 2013

Captain Awkward has forums now, not sure how active they are yet.

In real life, do you live in or near a city with a big enough, diverse enough population that there are ethnic arts organizations? I know, you're white, but I'm thinking of groups like Kearny Street Workshop (SF) or the Asian American Writers Workshop (NYC) that have events and classes that are open to all folks, like this autobiographical writing class. In my time at Kearny Street Workshop, non-Asian American participants were warmly welcomed and having a creative rather than an explicitly always political focus was pretty freeing.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:35 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pick an issue and join a group to work on it.
posted by gingerest at 2:53 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tumblr has plenty of social justice blogs, and you'll definitely find your niche in there. Just create an account, start following a few blogs (I personally love Yo, Is This Racist, The Mary Sue, and Racebending), but search for a few terms, and you'll come across what you want to keep reading about.

Then reblog with your opinions, or post your own stuff, and see the commentary fly!
posted by Katemonkey at 5:18 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your Facebook friends sound like douche bags. I don't know how passionate you are about lefty politics and how far the leap is from "thinking" to "acting" for you, but I've helped out on several Dem campaigns and I always loved that I was surrounded by people who were open-minded like me. Even in conservative parts of the country, when I was helping Dems run for office, it was just pretty much standard that everyone there was pro-LGBT rights, pro-women's rights, anti-racism, etc. You may want to get involved in some campaigns so you can have some real-life friends who aren't douche bags. Depending where you are at in your life career-wise, it could be parlayed into a job and career for you. Then you'll always be able to work with and be surrounded by people who fundamentally agree with your values, which is pretty nice.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:16 AM on October 28, 2013

Best answer: I think reading SJW tumblrs will just enmesh you in the drama of 16 year olds on the internet and forms an echo chamber of people who are all in agreement about what's Right. Even FB posts are sort of wanking, in my mind. I think finding a group of people in your community and working that group accomplishes more and is more satisfying. Can you volunteer as a Big Sister? Do local schools need volunteers? Are you politically minded or more interested in hand-on actions?
Because to be honest, posting about Halloween costumes does nothing for kids growing up on reservations.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:16 AM on October 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Have you thought about volunteering for some progressive cause in your city? I volunteered for the local rape crisis center for several years and the people I met there seemed to fit what you're describing, and there was a good sense of community among them. At the same time, it was refreshing to see what a wide range of people were dedicated to the cause. It's a good reminder that the people most devoted to making the world a better place aren't always the ones who are best at "talking the talk" about the issues...something that's easy to forget when a lot of your social justice knowledge gets filtered through the internet.

[on preview, what AppleTurnover and Ideefixe said]

Also, fwiw, something I've been working on for a long time is the "right" way to integrate activism into my life. Burnout is a real thing, and a bruising Facebook exchange can deplete you just as much (or more) as a weekend spent organizing for the progressive candidate in your local election...and leave you with a lot less to show for it. In my experience, you will never find a circle that is exactly at your level of awareness and passion. Even if you find a group of people who are 100x more committed to left wing causes than your current bunch, these kinds of FB exchanges will still happen, and they'll be equally as fraught, and at some point it'll be you on the receiving end of "correction." That's cool, in a way - it's how learning and change happen - but too much of it can also be exhausting and rob you of the energy to make a difference in other ways.

It sounds like you're already in that position a bit - trapped in the middle of the political spectrum between people who are too "harsh" and people who aren't active enough. Trust me, that will always, always be true - even if you scrapped everyone you knew and relocated to the most left-wing city in the nation (hi from the People's Republic of Cambridge! send me a memail and I'll take you out for coffee!) you'd find the same dynamic playing out eventually. It's just the way people (and politics) work.

If possible, I'd recommend cultivating a group of IRL people who are approximately at your level (who aren't stupidly offensive about Halloween costumes, for example) but letting your friends be your friends, and channeling most of your SJ energy into actual work, maybe in the company of people you don't see every day. Try not to base the majority your friendships on shared politics, is basically what I'm saying - find other common ground. That doesn't mean turning a blind eye to racism, sexism, etc. when they appear, but it might mean letting politics stay on the back burner for the majority of your conversations. You might feel guilty about it for a little while, but if it leaves you strong and happy enough to do work that matters, I think it will be worth it in the end.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:44 AM on October 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

AppleTurnover's idea to volunteer for a political campaign is a good one. Depending on your location, city council or state legislator may be the most interesting. In my former life as a political organizer, I found that national campaigns (especially presidential, notwithstanding 2008 as a shining exception) were grueling and a bit alienating. On the other hand, local politics can be super down to earth and an on-the-ground manifestation of the politics of solidarity.

My old gig with the League of Young Voters focused on activating young voters in local races. If they have a chapter near you, they might be an awesome resource.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:21 PM on October 28, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the great suggestions! I am going to look into my local UU church, and in the meantime I apparently can volunteer at a local private school that is heavily into social justice and progressive issues so that will really help me feel like I'm not in an echo chamber any more.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:44 PM on November 16, 2013

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