The world is changed.
I feel it in the water.
I feel it in the earth.
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost;
for none now live who remember it…
The Lord Of The Rings
I wish I were more surprised. I didn’t think it would happen, but somehow I’m not shocked beyond comprehension that it did. We are in for a time of great change. That is the only phrase I can come up with right now to describe where we’re headed.
I’m not a fan of Trump. He has proved himself to be a philanderer, a sexual predator, a thin-skinnned narcissist, a compulsive liar, a terrible business man, a racist, a misogynist, a xenophone and a generally nasty piece of work. But, as of January 2017, he’s going to be President of the United States of America.
There’s been a lot of shock on my corner of Facebook. People saying that they don’t live in the world they thought they did, that the world has gone through an immense period of change. That they are beginning to realise how much of an echo chamber they live in. I sympathise, I do. I’ve been there. When the Conservative Party won the 2015 election here. When Brexit won in the Referendum. And now? Now this. President-Elect Donald Trump.
Our echo chamber isn’t going away. The only way that happens, that we break out and start to change things, is if we start speaking out and taking (even a little bit of) action. Even though that’s a scary thing to do.
I’m a teacher. Deep down I believe in education and its power to change the world. I know that there are some people who will not be able to accept the things that they are taught, because their cognitive dissonance is so overwhelming that they will go to massive lengths to avoid having their world view challenged, let alone shattered.
Putting out your view point on the internet, or in the world in general, is a difficult and dangerous thing to do when you come up against people like that. Because they find cognitive dissonance painful and they have no qualms or concerns about lashing out – verbally, emotionally, physically even – to make sure that their pain is averted and those who are opposed to their world view are silenced. At best, it’s exhausting. At worst, with the rise in tactics such as rape threats, doxing and stalking… Well, yeah, it is dangerous.
But the world we are being corralled into is dangerous too.
Dangerous for anyone who isn’t cis-male.
For people of any sexuality other than straight.
For people who are any form of trans*.
For people any religion other than Christianity.
For people of any race other than white.
For anyone who does not identify as a capitalist.
For anyone who questions the role of our armed forces on the world stage.
For anyone who isn’t thin/slim/toned in shape and size.
For anyone who is neuro-atypical.
For anyone who has any sort of disability.
For anyone who is struggling to get an education or find stable paid work.
For anyone who doesn’t meet the current conventional standards of Western beauty.
This world is already dangerous for us. And that’s why we’ve retreated to live in our echo chambers. Perhaps we should call them bunkers. Or vaults. They’re safe. But they’re stifling. And our supplies of jokes and humour won’t hold out forever.
So what can we do?
- Start blogging. Get your words out. Say what you feel. Keep talking. Get onto Tumblr, get onto WordPress. Words have power. Sara knows it. Emeli knows it. Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out. You’ve got the words to change a nation, and you’re biting your tongue.
- If blogging’s not your thing, how about tweeting? Or just sharing something other than pictures of kittens and your dinner on the internet? Not that they aren’t cute and a nice source of feel good, and I do both from time to time – but maybe mix it up a bit with things that catch your interest and will make people around you think a little wider?
- Start double sourcing what you share. Adopt the journalism standard. Don’t take one person’s or one organisation’s word for anything any more.
- Stop sharing links to the tabloids who thrive on sensationalism and divisive behaviour – both the paper ones (Sun, Star, Express, Mail, etc) and the TV ones (Fox News particularly). If you’re angry with them, and want to call them out, screen shot them. Don’t give them the links, don’t give them the ad revenue.
- Seen a meme that’s bullshit? Seen someone sharing something from a hate group? Is one of your friends list unwittingly promoting an organisation like Britain First? Start debunking them.There are plenty of sites that do the hard work for you. Snopes are one of the best, Hoax-Slayer are worth a look too. Call people out on the things that make you feel twisted up with cringe and sorrow, that you KNOW aren’t the case, that you can see are just manipulative bullshit. We have tried the ‘ignore it and see if it goes away’ approach. I think we can agree that this did not go according to anything even resembling the plan.
- Start sharing the things that educate you. Here’s my list:
I’m not saying any of these are perfect. But they make me think and give me significant pause for thought. More welcome. I need to keep learning too.
- Pick a side and chuck in your effort and, if you have any, your monies. I joined the Labour Party this year, because I have been more impressed with Corbyn than any other politician in the last 20 years, and it was worth my money to keep him up at the podium and on people’s watchlist.There are tonnes of charities, lobby groups, activists, political parties and organisations who are dedicated to changing bits of this world. Some of the less objectionable international ones include:
Our only option left is to be the change we want to see in the world. We were getting somewhere. We were! But we’re backsliding in spectacular fashion as a species and unless we manage to call a halt, we’re going to enter into a modern “dark ages”, where everything which fails to meet with a culturally specified ‘norm’ is hounded, hunted and hung out to die.
So be the change you want to see in your world. I promise to try to be in mine.
I promise to keep trying. Keep blogging. Keep sharing. Keep donating. Keep talking. Keep listening. Keep trying. Keep reading. Keep Changing. I have a long time left to live in this world. I’m not giving up on it yet.