By Michael M . . . You see them all over social media, activists sporting names like “Registry Reform Warrior” or “Abolish the Registry!” As a registrant yourself, your first impulse may be to follow or friend them because their thinking parallels your own, you want to stay informed on registry matters, and it’s really nice to know that you’re not alone in this fight. But then you glance at their timeline and your heart sinks. This person hasn’t posted anything in years.
The information posted there is stale and horribly out of date. They have an optimistic profile promising great things to come, but it is painfully obvious that suddenly, and for no apparent reason, their efforts came to a grinding halt a long, long time ago. There’s no announcement, no explanation. Nothing at all to explain the disappearance. One day they were there and the next day, they just weren’t.
This sort of thing isn’t limited to individuals, either. Search for organizations dedicated to registry reform and you’ll find dozens of social media accounts, blogs, and websites dusty from neglect and age, accomplishing nothing but the hushed demoralization of anyone who happens to stumble upon their bleached bones in the digital desert.
It’s easy to let our imaginations run wild, conjecturing upon what may or may not have caused the sudden disappearances of some of these individuals. Perhaps they had their parole or probation revoked. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been on the internet to begin with. Perhaps they suddenly became unemployed or homeless and their priorities shifted from advocacy to sheer survival. Maybe they died.
While each of these possibilities may be sad to contemplate, they are understandable. Life happens. Sometimes, death happens. And none of it ever happens according to plan, especially when it comes to life on the registry. Sadder still would be the possibility that some of these people went *poof* simply because they became discouraged, demoralized, or apathetic – especially if they left without so much as a “Catch ya later!”
For organizational social media accounts, blogs, and websites there is usually less mystery involved. Membership inevitably ebbs and flows, and volunteers continually move in and out of assigned duties. Perhaps a talented webmaster moves away or can no longer fulfill his duties, and no one seems willing or capable of stepping up to take his place. Maybe someone simply got overwhelmed by the requisite tasks or the whole thing somehow just slipped through the cracks. Regardless of the cause, the effect is ever the same: potential volunteers, contributors, and people in need of hope or information are disappointed. They may leave with the notion (accurate or not) that the organization is struggling or inactive. They might reasonably surmise, “If this organization can’t keep a simple website up and running, how can I trust them to competently represent my interests in the legislature and judiciary when it comes to a complex issue like registry reform?”
This is not a good look for any advocacy group, but even less so for advocacy groups on the unpopular side of a nationwide social panic. Credibility on this particular battlefield can be incredibly hard to come by, even under the best of conditions. You simply cannot afford to squander it because of neglect or an organizational oversight.
Let’s all resolve to make 2019 the year that you take back control of the public face of your advocacy efforts. By so doing, you’ll be giving hope to hundreds of thousands of registrants and their loved ones who are depending on you to inspire, encourage, and mobilize them.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.