If you scroll around Facebook, Twitter, or just regular old webpages, it seems that there is an ever-growing virtual community that has sprung up to promote self-indigenized people – especially those claiming to be eastern Metis. The reason for this is quite simple: the internet serves as a vehicle for virtual indigenization where people separated by many miles can come together to cobble together a “community” and “culture” in the absence of a real, living and breathing one.
There seems to be almost no limit to the ways in which people with a limited claim to being indigenous and no real connection to others in the real-life indigenous world can come together to imagine that they are really experiencing an indigenous existence. The virtual world helps them to shamelessly construe and construct what they imagine an indigenous community to be. It allows them to create a hodgepodge “society” where their imagination is validated, their assumed history is thrown together into a melting pot, and their present claims to being “real indigenous people” can be justified. It is the place where their future success is imagined.
The Internet allows these people to confirm biases and provide encouragement of relatively uncensored ideas with little shame – because they have no real skin in the game and no real community to hold them accountable. The virtual world makes it easier to build an indigenous identity where one may not exist, because the people sharing their internet “community” do not actually have to deal with them on a day to day base, or witness the mundanity of their regular lives within the real-world cities and small towns where they live as white people for most of the day, but become mighty indigenous warriors once they boot up their browser. The internet can even help them to forge entirely new identities when needed, claim new indigenous ancestors, and gives license to falsehoods that can hardly be countered because they can always click a small “x” at the top of the screen to escape when needed.
Of course, if one is brave enough, they can forego the “x” and just resort to name calling and trolling if someone calls them on the carpet for any reason…and if that doesn’t work, they can just block them and continue on their merry way because they know that they have the safety of the virtual “talking circle” to sooth their ruffled feathers.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities