What we know about each other on the Internet

Today the Guardian published its most sweeping article yet on the top secret National Security Agency surveillance program exposed in large part by whistleblower Edward Snowden and the documents he leaked. As someone who both consumes and creates content on the Internet for political and cultural ends (and, let’s face it, as a Millennial), I’m fascinated, terrified, and overwhelmed by the scope of this program and the potential ramifications for how I’ll use the Internet including to engage with feminism.

I do know that this blog is almost 10 years old (!) and has been utterly critical in the development of my feminist consciousness as well as that of so many others. I have been reading, contributing to and editing Feministing for almost five of those ten years, and during that time I’ve seen dramatic shifts in how people engage with blogging and the Internet, and what kinds of information they feel comfortable, safe and empowered to share about themselves. Blogs as niche community sites of dialogue and activism have given way to blogs as sites of personal expression, wonky analysis or corporate-sponsored platforms for aggregating and promoting viral content. And the lines between the two kinds of spaces continue to blur, with hybrids like Buzzfeed promoting successful models of balancing lighter ‘listicles’ with hard-hitting, important news pieces. The Feministing Editors will be sharing a bit more of our thoughts on this and the changing ‘feminist blogosphere’ in the weeks to come, along with some new announcements about the site and its direction.

Until then, today I don’t have much to offer in terms of clear-headed analysis, since I am still sifting through all this data and its implications. But I can offer this, in true millennial form: a list of things we know about each other on the Internet, as of today:

We know who is and is not a feminist.

We know who is hooking up and whether they liked it.

We know who poops at the office.

We know who had a nose job, and who is battling an eating disorder.

We know who’s out and who’s proud.

We think we know who’s dead.

We know who did it, at least until we find the real guys.

We definitely, definitely know what it looks like.

We know who’s a rapist and who’s been raped.

We know who said it first, and we’re pretty upset about it.

We’ll never know why they did it.

We know who’s retired, and who’s been fired.

We know everything and  everything we know is wrong.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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