Category Archives: Social Issues

Twitter, Media, and Change

My mom informed me about the federal court’s ruling on voting fraud in the last election before it was reported in the mainstream media because she was tracking it on Twitter (not that the mainstream media seems to be too interested anyway).

A couple days later when I asked how the Globe and Mail paywall affected her night-time news-reading ritual, my aunt informed me: “Guess I’m getting more of my news from Twitter.”

Plenty has been written about the death of the newspaper; and it seems like for some of my family, they’re replacing it with Twitter. Maybe I’m not the best person to comment. Initially, a complete Twitter-sceptic, I now observe from afar: I regularly read my favourite hockey writers and my mom’s feeds, but I don’t have an account of my own. As frequent readers may have guessed, the 140-character limit does not suit me. I find that it limits the capacity to communicate nuance and therefore increases the possibility of being misunderstood. There was one point about a year ago, where I warned my mother that her Twitter feed made her sound like more of a political extremist than she was.  So, while brevity may be the soul of wit,[1] I am a long-winded Polonius. You could say that my attitude towards Twitter is better suited to a grumpy old man. However, the more I reflect on it, the more I realise Twitter doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table; rather it simply magnifies, extends, and intensifies the way we already interact with the media.[2]

“The Readers’ Prejudices”

The internet has been praised for opening up dialogue and breaking down barriers.  However, while it’s very easy to find viewpoints with which you don’t agree on the internet, this ideal is generally not what happens. Instead, people tend to use the internet to find and interact with like-minded people. As  Twitter feeds are filled with people who they choose to follow, Twitter acts as a personalised collator of information that confirms people’s pre-existing ideas. I found it interesting how after the recent murders in Woolwich, my Facebook feed filled up with condemnation of the racist backlash, but was itself devoid of any racist backlash. Not that the confirmation bias arrived with Twitter. The following clip from the satirical 1980s British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister does a fairly good job of describing today’s British print media.

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What YOUth said: Insights from the Arts in Action Dialogue

Thank you for all of those who came out to the Arts in Action dialogue. It truly was a fun and inspiring day! Here are some of the highlights from the comments and insights gained through the World Cafe Discussion questions, which tackled the different angles of the relationship between art and discrimination, and how we may use art to create diverse and inclusive communities. Please share your comments and thoughts below!

As a lot of art sells for thousands of dollars at exclusive events and shows, how can public spaces in Vancouver be used to make art more accessible?

It just so happened that for this question we focused on visual art. This question allowed for some venting about how the high cost of art supplies and studio space makes it inaccessible to many students and youth. There was a consensus that we would like to see progressive policies from Government at different levels supporting the arts. The group soon delved deeper into the roots of this issue and asked the question: “what is the motive for creating art?” Is it fame or wealth? The money-centric, class-differenciated reality of our present day society has made art a luxury that can mostly be afforded by a rich elite. This often creates a dilemma for artists who rely on this exclusive culture to sell their work. Finally, there needs to be a balance between artists making a living while not being motivated by money in such a way that they would make their art inaccessible to those without the material means. The group then began to question whom are considered artists and decided that the production of art should not be exclusive to those who are professional artists. As one participant put it: “Art should be more like exercise – everyone should do it.” Finally, it was clear that appropriate public spaces need to be selected for sharing art in a way that will encourage connection and community, and that a general public education is needed in order to appreciate art in public spaces.

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Racism in Vancouver: Lingering in Less Obvious Forms

Illustration by david anderson

Last weekend I attended a facilitator training by CitizenU on Anti-discrimination. Having been part of the ArtQuake team for less than a week, I didn’t know what to expect from the weekend. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Apart from getting to know and bonding with ArtQuake co-founders Tahia and Jannika, I discovered some fascinating yet disturbing facts about the history of racism in Vancouver, which plunged me into a deep reflection about forms of racism today.

Not too long ago…

For those of us born in the late 80’s it’s always shocking to be reminded that legal and institutionalized racism existed in Canada as little as 50 years ago. Consider that it was only in 1960 that ‘Status Indians’ living on reserves received the right to vote in federal elections for the first time. We watched a documentary during the training which showed that there were growing branches of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)  in Canada during the 1920s and 1930s, but even in 1980 the Canadian Knights of the KKK had about 2,500 committed Klan members, from recruits in urban British Columbia schools, Vancouver high schools, the University of British Columbia, and the B.C. Institute of Technology, most of which were very young.These members were white supremacists who were against immigration of other races to Canada. Did you know that during World War Two Canadians of Japanese origin, including Canadian-born and naturalized citizens (men, women and children) were detained, relocated, and expelled from their British Columbia homes, and 23,000 Japanese Canadians were sent to detention camps in the interior of BC, Southern Alberta and Manitoba? Chinese Canadians were only given the right to vote in Federal elections in 1947, and Indigenous People were given the right to vote in B.C. in 1950.

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