Professor Bronwyn Carlson is the Head of the Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University. She is the author of The Politics of Identity: Who Counts as Aboriginal Today? (2016) which includes a chapter on Aboriginal identity and community on social media, and the recipient of two consecutive ARC grants that focus on Indigenous social, cultural and political engagements on social media.
Indigenous Internet users: Learning to trust ourselves
“Trust in the System” is contentious, if not spurious for many Indigenous Internet users. “Trust” signifies as a term that embodies (and disembodies) our experiences from over two hundred years of colonisation. Research has shown that Indigenous people have always been early adopters of technology. Over the last decade or so, social media technologies have gradually become a central part of our everyday lives. It offers opportunities to connect across vast distances and diverse populations. It provides a platform to express one’s identity, connect with community, learn, play, seek love, organise political action, find lost friends and family, search for employment, seek help in times of need—and much more. Almost every aspect of everyday life has in some way been shaped, modified or enhanced by social media technologies. Indigenous people have made particular use of social media for agitating for social justice. Information can be distributed, events coordinated and alliances spontaneously forged across great distances largely outside of the surveillance and control of state actors. Assessing the actual impact of online activism is not a straightforward matter—any concept of ‘trust in the system’ demands that we begin to infiltrate that system in order to force ‘it’ to incorporate the views and experiences of Indigenous actors and activists online.