I wholeheartedly embrace social media. The fact that I can post videos on my Twitter of my 4-year-old son talking about how much he loves salami, or as he calls it "meat pancakes", or his mispronunciation of the word for his testicles as "nucksack" is pretty much parental gold. Despite my obvious gross misuse of a fantastic social tool, I do have more respectable uses for social media, and ultimately my own voice.
I am an American Indian. I am part of a group of people that have rarely had a voice in popular culture throughout history, and the times Natives have had a voice, they've had to proclaim that voice from atop occupied government buildings or in the throws of civil rights protests. The majority of Americans barely have an idea Native people exist within the context of the modern day. But, with the advent of social media, as an artist and a Native person, I have a voice.
During the course of The Media Rise Festival, I am representing two projects I'm working on. Honor The Treaties, an awareness campaign using street art and fine art to relay messages of issues within Indian Country aligned with the likes of National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey and renowned artists and street artist Shepard Fairey and The Last American Indian On Earth, a performance art piece of and social project using stereotypes to illustrate the ways people interact with and consider the Native American. Both of these projects rely heavily on social media to relay messages, start a dialog and engage the public. With something like The Last American Indian On Earth, where I dress 'traditional' and do ordinary things like sightseeing or grocery shopping. I take the stereotype, which is often steeped in turn-of-the-century relics of a 'vanishing race' and plop it into the modern day, I can share things as they happen.
The beauty of social media is that I don't have to explain the premise of this project every time I make a comment about it. The context of my comment is already understood based on my profile, photos I've used and posted. So when I tweeted that an entire family in a maroon SUV slow down parallel to me, roll down their windows and slap their mouths in unison making a stereotypical "Indian noise", people know what I'm talking about and in what context in 140 characters or less. The same is true with Facebook and Instagram.
While social media can provide a platform for my parental exploitation (my kids are seriously hilarious), or start a revolution, I have a voice. I have a voice without someone else defining whom I am or what I am trying to say. I have a voice that reaches people that have never even considered the idea that I exist. I have a voice within my visual art, photos, street art and social standings. What an amazing world we live in.