I love this class, but in the past my encounters with activists left me with a feeling of resentment towards them.
Because they’re usually right, and they know they’re right. They’re walking talking fact machines with a counter-counter argument for every one of yours. Even when they’re wrong you can’t argue with them. Every casual conversation is turned into a heated debate. They’re whole purpose in life is to see the fulfillment of the cause their fighting for. They are fighters.
I used to share a house with a fundamentalist Atheist who’s goal in life was to “eradicate Islam from the face of the planet”. He was a great guy, intelligent and his arguments were very convincing, but he was so passionate that he came across as hostile. If you weren’t with him, you were against him.
My next encounter with an activist was fighting for a different cause, but had almost identical character traits. She was an animal rights activist and vegan with two vegan rottweilers ( the irony is killing me, they were the most docile dogs I’ve ever met!). The fact that she called herself an animal rights activist while denying her faithful companions the right to their natural diet, did not stop me from dating her. She lived in an ‘activists house’ with three other activists. They were mostly concerned about animal welfare and global warming. There was always a protests to prepare for, and meetings to be held. I’d sometimes tag along and help out. Feeling a tad self righteous for being concerned with matters more important than your average citizen. Kind of like a super hero. Like you had a secret. But I always found myself asking, is anybody that’s not an animal liberationist even listening?
One thing I learnt from being around activists, is that they fight for a cause that more often than not should concern everyone, but they are more often than not completely untactful at conveying their message. This is where I think designers can make a big difference. Info graphics are a great start. Because they convey a message in an interesting and unhostile way. But what else as designers can we do?
So that’s what I used to know about activists. As for what I’ve learnt since Change AAA, at first, on twitter it just felt like a lot of people talking about things that matter to them and passing on information to people that have similar views and opinions. But through researching the Palm oil industry I’ve discovered that activism can make a difference. It just takes a lot of time, patience, stubbornness, and a total belief that what your doing is right. Dare I say just like my vegan and atheist friends. So I guess maybe that passion is what I/we need more of.
Ahh I just realised it’s not activists that piss me off, its fundamentalists!