“Only a revolution can truly save us”
Interview with Ewa Bujacz by Berenika Balcer
As the world has rapidly adopted social media as a part of the everyday discourse, activists have too. It appears that the now Facebook-owned Instagram has become one of the most recognisable platforms for online activism.
The internet has given opportunities to large groups of people that weren’t available before. The activism movements become less hierarchic, and it’s easier to organise events like manifestations, thanks to social media platforms. On the other hand, there are those “deep” sides of the web where groups such as alt-right find their niche. The role of social media activist is becoming more and more crucial in today’s world, where, because of the intersectional and multi-layered nature of the possible issues leads to the idea that focusing on one topic is often not enough.
Her Instagram bio says: “a doctor, leftist, feminist, (…), a rainbow queen”. Her original Instagram account name was “Chujowapanidoktor” to then be changed to “Lewogram”. For her, Instagram is a platform for sharing her knowledge and views. She’s a doctor who’s trying to change the perception of a serious doctor looking down at his/her patients. She fights with stigmatisation of people with mental health problems and states; that everyone should have access to good public health care.
However, medicine is not her only point of interest. Lewogram – or rather Ewa Bujacz – uses her online space to discuss feminism, sexual orientation and gender identity as well as, veganism and caring for the environment. She openly critiques capitalism and tries to convince people that politics is profoundly important as it directly influences our everyday lives. Therefore, Instagram, which is often in fact like a full-time job, is a place where she also tries to develop social consciousness of her followers.
Berenika Balcer: Apparently, according to some, you have “the biggest ego on Instagram”, but at the same time you say you are in fact attention-seeking. Is it possible to balance these two then and how does it affect your social media persona?
Ewa Bujacz: Well, I like to think that the first one doesn’t. What would that mean if it did? This perception comes from the fact that I talk about what I think or what I truly believe. I would have to stop giving my opinion about things or pretend that I don’t feel strongly about a lot of issues. Well, maybe I do have a big ego then, but I am also pretty sure that if I was a man it would be perceived as positive self-confidence. The attention that I need makes my Instagram more personal. Apart from the educational part, there is a lot of quite intimate content, and I actually think it’s a good thing. Would people be interested in watching a girl that everyday shares only the data that makes them angry and/or sad? I feel like my content would be unbearable without the chill part. It also, makes me more authentic. Yeah, I guess this answer makes my ego look big. Oh well.
BB: The internet gives space for social organisation. This is how both pride parades and anti-pride manifestations are usually advertised. But it also traps us in our little ideological bubbles. As you once said; “when you think maybe it’s not that bad in Poland (…), suddenly Białystok happens”. How does “Post-Białystok” Poland look like? And probably more importantly – feel like?
EB: People in the LGBT+ community started feeling a whole lot more of fear after the incident. We knew that Poland is homophobic, that media are going after us, especially for the last year or so, but seeing thousands of people gathering just to use violence against pride participants really changed the perspective for some of us. I wasn’t there and somehow it still affected me. I can’t imagine what it must be like for LGBT people that were in Białystok that day. On the other hand, I feel like people that didn’t really think homophobia was such a big issue have woken up. I feel that allies are more supportive than ever.
BB: Would you say there’s a Polish myth of heteronormativity? What about “equal freedom of expression”?
EB: There’s a myth of heteronormativity in every country. If you don’t specify that your sexual orientation is non-heterosexual, most people assume you’re straight. No country is free from homophobia, so the freedom of expression is never equal and without equality it’s not freedom. You cannot be partly free.
BB: On your Instagram you actively promote interest in politics. You’re also being asked whether you’re a communist or a social democrat. And, you simply say you’re leftist, a socialist in a broad understanding of that word. However, both of these words have a rather pejorative overtone in Poland. How would you describe a Polish “leftist” identity?
EB: In Poland if you’re a social democrat, you are basically a communist. If you don’t vote for Law and Justice or Korwin, if you have a gay friend and once ate hummus, you’re a leftie. It’s hard to describe a leftist identity when the ruling party comes up with a strong (well, what is considered strong here) social programme but is truly conservative. I think that most people here have the wrong idea about leftist ideals.
BB: Beside also being a feminist, you promote veganism (love #weganizmdlabiednychileniwych by the way) and environmentalism as well. All of which must be approached by national policies in order to make any changes. What a young person can do in order to engage with social matters more and don’t think it’s pointless?
EB: Read, listen, talk and act. The knowledge is one google search away and their duty should be spreading it. This can be done at home, school and the internet. The goal is to spread awareness of the issue and encourage others to participate in the protests that push politicians to do the right thing. Young people should constantly keep an eye on the actions of the government and of course vote. If they need some lead, there are a lot of non-governmental organisations that they can join. Nowadays, the opportunities are infinite, so there is really no excuse for being passive.
BB: Let’s return to “Post-Białystok” and the possible futures. Along with all the intersectionality of your Instagram presence, how do you imagine Poland in 10 years?
EB: I’m not a prophetess, and I hope that you’re not suggesting that I can think about just one scenario because that would be offensive. I can hope for the best, but I feel like only a revolution can truly save us and with the indifference of today’s polish society? Don’t think so.
Follow Ewa on Instagram @lewogram.