The Finite Internet: On Muslims, Fake News And Solidarity In The Cyber Sphere

“Anyone can publish anything on the internet,” is a technically true statement, but it does not validate the boundlessness of the web.

As campaigns, news, and opinions projected themselves onto many online platforms and digital outlets, this election’s relationship with social media marks a milestone of unprecedented strength. Coping with its results has only proven Americans to remain more reliant on cyber spheres to either facilitate or weaken trust and safety. We have fallen onto a range of resources, from Facebook groups to Twitter celebs. In most cases, these ideological havens or battlefields are a very theoretical entity, at least in how boundaries and borders are defined—which means who is let in is directly correlated with who is left out.

Muslim women, who compose a traditional demographic of many left silenced or unvoiced, maintain a critical role in how such internet dealings move forward.

The spring of 2014 gave rise to a series of Twitter tensions regarding the controversy of feminism and intersectionality. Hashtags such as #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomenand #BlackPowerIsForBlackMen only begin to unravel the issues tackled, but the preliminary point remains key: that feminists of color, particularly Black women, were able to vent their thoughts, if even it was a response to others stepping outside their lines.

Nov. 9 and onward, a very similar phenomena reverberated throughout many higher educated communities online: White liberals advocating for hope, “giving it a chance,” and “it can’t really be that bad.” When called out for overwriting the experiences of especially people of color in the interest of promoted their own mostly empty and unsubstantiated “solidarity” post, people grew defensive.

Such tolerated speech over any or all minority communities reaffirms inherent biases. Publications like Muslim Girl have worked tirelessly to eradicate this, but now it stands even more important than ever.

“Anyone can publish anything on the internet,” is a technically true statement, but it does not validate the boundlessness of the web. If anything, in fact, the internet is extremely finite, especially in that the attention of the consuming and reading user is only to limited. And when attention is the currency of the internet, that only means that the internet, or at least what is digested of it, is extremely finite. In such a case, the phrase “perception is reality” could not apply more. What people extract and internalize from their Internet ordeals matter far more than the total, cumulative scope of exactly what is out there.

Therefore, elevating the voices of those who own or live a topic is absolutely pivotal. No such need exists in reading 15 of the same, consecutive, synonymic Facebook statuses penned by whites to remind us that “it’ll be okay and not too terrible.”

As outlets particularly like Facebook wrestle with fake news stories, recent studies by Stanford indicate that most teenagers struggle with selecting real news headlines from false ones. Of the over 7,8000 responses, at least 30% of students found a fake Fox News headline more believable than the truth, and most agreed that photographic evidence accompanying a picture nearly always legitimized the cause. It is thus only even more critical to disseminate as much positive, verified information as possible out that.

The space for information, clearly, is limited, which is thus why Muslim Girl is so—it has not taken an extra chair at the back of the room. It has taken us to our very own seat at the table. For that very reason, our voices are focal anchors and strong agents. We must use this time to ground our diverse perspectives yet also craft the beauty in our diversity and opinions. The internet is finite, but the fire in us surely is not. And so we will continue to write.

This article was originally published on MuslimGirl.com.

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