In this modern world, with all the conveniences of the Internet and social media, spreading the word about a cause or an injustice requires almost no effort. With a few well-timed tweets or Facebook posts, a person can make his or her entire social circle aware of the latest in social injustices and where he or she stands on each issue. In a moment, one can make lots of noise with minimum effort. While technology has made organizing a movement significantly easier than it used to be, it also means – from what we’ve seen – that movements lose momentum at a faster rate than they may have at one time (think back to protests during the Vietnam War). Causes can quite easily slip between the cracks after an initial spike in popular awareness.
For those who have forgotten about last month’s Chick-fil-A scandal, the company’s president, Dan Cathy, made several anti-LGBT comments on a radio talk show. The public outcry against Chick-fil-A was so profound – especially at Emory – that there was even a movement to ban the restaurant from our campus. Resistance was organized rapidly and effectively – or so it seemed. A committee was formed to discuss removing Chick-fil-A from its location in Cox Hall but when the committee sent over 600 invitations to Emory students on the Office of LGBT Life’s listserv to attend a strategy meeting last Thursday, only five students showed up.
Given the large number of Emory students who identify themselves as LGBT, the even larger number of students who support the LGBT community and the campus-wide outcry against Chick-fil-A, it is surprising to see how rapidly support for the anti-Chick-fil-A movement dwindled. We can’t be certain if this is typical college student apathy or if it is an indication that Emory students simply were not invested enough in the success of this movement to see it to completion.
We’d like to think that the Internet is to blame, at least in part, for the contagious apathy exhibited by the Emory community in the case of Chick-fil-A’s ouster. For the astounding ease with which word can be spread about issues, it is just as easy for students to commit in an online, impersonal setting and shirk their responsibility when it comes to real-world commitment. Clicking “like” on Facebook isn’t the same as showing up to a strategy meeting or going to a rally. When students fail to commit to an issue, it diminishes the value of any causes that might crop up in the future as well as any voice that we, as students, might have. How can our voice be taken seriously if our support for a cause fizzles out due to lack of commitment?
With this in mind, we encourage the Emory community to avoid similar levels of apathy concerning the recent departmental changes. Much is at stake, and now is not the time to quiet down or be silent about our questions or concerns.