2020socialjustice is ONE YEAR OLD

November 1st, 2013  |  Published in Social justice

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My finger hovered for weeks before finally pushing the start-button on 2020socialjustice a year ago today. It had a long past (my work, my life) no present (apart from a name) and nothing as grand as a vision for the future. I knew little about computers, the internet, websites, or social media. I was, however, clear that there is too much injustice. Perhaps, I thought, if I could write ‘as if’ I was writing a private journal I could make that leap into the unknown of internet communication.

Getting started

It all began from something I now find myself forgetting. I wrote a book, and was told I needed a website to promote it. Then, apparently, I needed a Facebook page to drive traffic to the website. I was pretty much in the hands of the experts; until, that is, the name – 2020socialjustice – came to me, and provided an umbrella, not only for the book, but for all the issues I care most about.

I started writing brief posts for my Facebook page, and longer, more considered ones for my website about gender and sexuality, racism, child abuse, mental health and disability, refugee policy, workplace issues, poverty and hardship. I see all of these, and more, as issues of social justice, interconnected through the web of sociopolitical power relations; where there is an issue of social justice, there is a meta-issue of power. Indeed, my current view of the work of social justice is that it is the work of challenging power.

Engagement with the sites was slow at first; just as well, given the challenges of managing, administering, editing, publishing, scheduling, moderating, and de-spamming, meanwhile grappling with the mysteries of book promotion (now consigned to the too-hard basket). Such basics were the main business of the first months.

Sustaining the journey

Gradually, though, I formed connections with other bloggers and felt less like a voice in the wilderness. One particularly sustaining connection has been with Social Justice Solutions (SJS) who have also syndicated several of my website posts.

There have been other sustaining moments (such as the first comments by people previously unknown to me) but also some dark times, particularly during the early months when it seemed I was talking to myself. During such times, I have reverted to my ‘as if’ position, telling myself that if no one was interested it didn’t matter because my thoughts were becoming clearer, and instead of fuming over the morning paper, I could write a post instead.

Atwood quoteYearnings for control, perfection, or being right are unsustainable on social media. It was not even possible to correct typos on Facebook until recently, and once a post is out there, discussion can take directions that are then hard to contain. Mistakes are public and often irreversible. People sometimes vent hate and rage. This has not (yet) been a huge problem for me, and I have not (yet) found it personally threatening, but I would like to better understand this phenomenon and develop ways of responding constructively.

One aspect of control that does bother me is Facebook’s algorithm for determining which posts appear in which newsfeeds. Facebook reports these figures whether I want them or not, and they are routinely lower than the numbers who follow the page. The figure increases if you ‘boost’ a post (pay Facebook to channel it into the newsfeeds of followers and their friends). This is not an experiment I plan to repeat (although it has had dramatic results, particularly the day after the federal election, for example) but it has taught me how much the flow of posts on Facebook is engineered by Facebook.

The theory about Facebook driving traffic to websites has not matched reality – in my case, or (to the extent I’ve taken notice) for other sites I follow. I now see this as unsurprising because the two kinds of site invite different mindsets: Facebook encourages a skim, click, and knee-jerk mindset; websites invite closer attention. It is not necessarily easy to switch from one to the other. Additionally, neither of my sites have generated many book sales, although that may mean little except that the development of both has diverged from original intentions for promotion.

Looking ahead

Over the second year, I plan to build competence with the technology. This will mean grappling with concepts like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), examining available analytics, and perhaps adding Twitter to the mix. I have, to date, deliberately ignored these possibilities so as to avoid the tail (of technology) wagging the dog (of ideas).

My main aim for the second year is to get more people more actively involved, particularly on the website; technical expertise alone will not achieve this. Building involvement additionally involves strengthening the presentation of ideas, building connections with other related sites, involving more people as guest bloggers, and no doubt other things that will emerge along the way.

I have always believed in the power of ideas to create the basis for change, a power that existed long before social media became part of everyday life. There is more to the development of ideas than the medium used to present them, but creating the best fit is my ongoing aim for 2020socialjustice.

what matters flower

I would greatly value your involvement…Joan Beckwith.


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6 comments on “2020socialjustice is ONE YEAR OLD”

  1. joanbeckwith says:

    Many thanks, Irene. Lots to do and learn in the second year, and never any shortage of issues to think and write about…Joan Beckwith.

  2. Irene says:

    Dear Joan
    Happy Birthday!
    Congratulations, I enjoy reading your posts and also thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. Well done and keep up the good work!


  3. joanbeckwith says:

    Many thanks, Jenny, and for support over the journey…Joan Beckwith.

  4. joanbeckwith says:

    Thanks, Stef. Comments normally come to me via email as well as via the website, but yours does not seem to have done so for some reason beyond my technical know-how. So, I hope this reply does come to your attention. I value any contribution in the form of comments, feedback, suggestions on either the contents of the website or the facebook page (to which I include a link here in case you haven’t discovered it yet). With thanks for your interest…Joan Beckwith. https://www.facebook.com/2020socialjustice

  5. Stef says:

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    Let me know how I can be involved xx

  6. jenny ricketts says:

    Dear Joan

    Congratulations on your achievements with 2020Social Justice to date. So much has happened in one year. Thank you for being brave, sharing your journey, providing information, expressing thoughtful insights, and, most of all, gently encouraging hope in the midst of so much shame.


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