The Key is to emotionally involve others. But how?
Hello to everyone!
I am the latest guest blogger on Alpha Asian, here at the invitation of James. Nice to meet you all. I just wanted to get my feet wet on this blog and start with something fundamental. It's also more of a question/call for ideas than a statement, so I do hope that it speaks to you - and I especially hope that you can all pitch in.
- Your humble first-time blogger, AMR.
Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.- Chinese Proverb
...so goes the saying, and it has probably survived all these years to become a popular proverb because it rings so true across all walks of life.
Almost anything we do in our lives involves the transfer of information and ideas to an audience - from job interviews and sales pitches or getting elected into office, to asking a woman out, and to convincing a friend to do something fun on a Saturday night.
Trying to spread awareness about Asian-American male issues is no different, and the key to success in all these pursuits is to make a personal connection with the target audience.
And as the proverb attests it is 1000 times more effective to have another person walk a few steps in your shoes, instead of drawing up diagrams, doing complex equations, writing piles and piles of novels, or whatever crazy stuff one could do in order to convey some information or an idea to another person.
But things being as they are for us Asian-Americans, there is a catch.
Figuratively, we Asian-American activist types are all 'islands' of ideas that are isolated in an ocean of "inert/unreactive Whiteness", and our options are rather limited, as far as choosing a medium on which to attach this message/information.
So due to our isolation from each other - the Internet - for now, is our only means of communication and networking, and our only vehicle for information dissemination.
The problem is that there is an inherent paradox in the nature of the Internet: despite it's immensely powerful connectivity (this is the reason we are able to 'talk' right now to each other), it is still an experience that keeps us physically separated.
In fact, one could say it's a mirror image of our state in the real world, as fractured, isolated entities that have been unable to coalesce into a single 'organism'.
Furthermore, that lack of physical immediacy - or the direct separation of our physical selves from our message - impacts the emotional tangibility of a message told over the Internet, and gives us a disadvantage compared to, say, a message conveyed via radio (which adds a sonic element) or video (which combines both the visual and sonic to create an experience that is second only to the 'live' experience).
Given this, perhaps the highest 'gear (of persuasiveness)' we can shift up to is somewhere between the 'yellow' and the 'red' (refer to color-coding in the proverb) - maybe it really isn't possible to directly help people "feel" our message, at least, with the written word.
But all things considered, that's still not such a bad place to be. So let's brainstorm here.
With the above constraint in mind, what is the best way to make some random person out there literally feel what you're trying to describe?
We must identify the ways of getting the Public's understanding of Asian-American male issues to that 'yellow-red' threshold.
How can you build that connection between our message and what a non-Asian person might conceivably feel - to the level that it is possible over the internet - while sparking an emotional reaction to such a question, in order to enhance the tangibility of that experience for the listener or audience?
In other words, how does one incite EMPATHY in others, so that they feel emotionally involved and engaged with our struggle? The premise of such an enterprise is that a 'emotionally participatory experience' like that might motivate more of them to support us and to show solidarity for our cause.
We absolutely must create a common thread with those who are not Asian and male in order for our voice to have some clout.
So in closing I present to you again, the final third of our Chinese proverb:
...involve me, and I'll understand.