Digital Democracy: Redefining Popular Discourse For Minorities

By Aditi Mayer

Beyond the popular notion of the blogging world as an overly saturated, face-value driven sell-out circus, the digital space also serves as a political space, implicitly and explicitly. This idea exists, not only in distinctly politically charged blogs, but even in personal style and expression blogs, particularly those showcasing people of color.

And how exactly is blogging entering political grounds?

Before first-person journalism was associated with narcissistic trespassing, it was used for news narration and particularly to reflect power imbalances when it comes to aspects such as race and gender. With journalism’s history, we’ve seen countless narratives mediated through the eyes of Caucasian males resulting in intentionally or unintentionally biased storytelling.

But wait — did I just categorize the blogosphere as a type of journalism? Hear me out. What differentiates millennials from generations past is the paradigm shift in terms of how we consume content. On the daily, we wade through endless websites and blogs dedicated to both general and niche ideas, an abundance of isolated images, sound bites and videos, and a plethora of other social media platforms.

The rise of social media hasn’t simply produced a self-obsessed generation in which every other person is a #blogger, #socialmediaguru or #photographer. What is often overlooked is the potential for collective intelligence, a by-product of the participatory ethos of the Web.

We are no longer just consumers, but producers of content as well, an essential aspect of the evolution of the digital media sphere. Production culture and social media are becoming, if not already, one in the same. Many of the media hegemons of our world today often thrive as aggregators of citizen journalism.

As media becomes more and more influential, bloggers, vloggers and Internet influencers are harnessing the collective intelligence of millennials who are reshaping popular discourse.

Too much “me” in a piece of journalism can be distracting for some, but blogging takes the medium of micro-memoir to the egalitarian space that is the Internet. Cue the emergence of spaces and movements that celebrate minority voices and narratives from #BlackGirlMagic, #ReclaimTheBindi, Asian-American communities dominating YouTube, to the general uprising of people of color claiming their corners of the Internet.

Blogging is never going to take the place of journalism and I’m not challenging blogging to journalistic credibility; there are probably far too many typos, run-on sentences or casual reflections in my own blog for me to reckon that.

The cherished tenets of objectivity will always have their place in formal journalism, but first-person narration can explicitly mark the attempt of marginalized voices to assert their right to narrate.

It represents a means for historically overlooked narratives to create their own spaces, reconstruct their own identities, as intersectional as they may be, and declare their own voices.

So, for every creator on the Internet, especially minorities: strive to share more than just a pretty dress. Grace us with the styles, ideologies and narratives unique to you.

Take the notion of our self-engrossed culture and use that precisely to revamp popular discourse.
Your story matters, too.