In the decision to publish my last post, there was a greater amount of consultation with others than previously. The question was not whether or not the issue needed to be discussed, because I still maintain that it definitely did. The question was, “Will posting about this cause potential employers to discount my applications due to my writing?”
I spent a good few weeks thinking about whether or not to write the post, and then a few more questioning whether or not I ought to publish it. As I said on Twitter and my Facebook page, it was the hardest decision I had made in reference to my blog to date. This post is a close second.
Why do we feel the need for self-censorship? Why do we feel that some things we know ought to be said should not be said by ourselves? That it needs to be said, but maybe by someone else? That “something” need to be done by “someone” else. Have we become so afraid of repercussions resulting from the right actions, as much as the wrong ones?
In the current global economic and political environment, I can excuse some of this fear. The need for a job, secure or otherwise, is paramount for most of us. There are bills to pay and roofs to maintain. There’s a need for food on the table, and transport to take us where we need to go. Everything is our lives depends on a steady income, which depends on us appearing to follow the status quo. Don’t rock the boat or you might lose your job, because there’s a million people just lining up to take your position from you. Or so we are told.
But what if that boat needs rocking? What if that “someone” who needs to do “something” never does? What if that someone is ourselves, and if we don’t take that first, scary, terrifying step to lift our heads, open our mouths and actually say something, then no one ever will? Have we become so institutionalised that we refuse to be the first to move?
There have often been complaints against “slacktivism,” suggesting that it is a lack of desire to actually effect change that drives the “likes” and sharing of stories, rather than actual getting off the couch and doing. Perhaps there is a different reason for the rise in the “slacktivist”? Liking something on facebook is a relatively safe activity. Sharing a story through social media is safer than actually joining an activist group and attending a protest. Especially if you have that all too useful “retweets are not endorsements” attached to your profile.
The fragility of our civilised lives has become our prison. We are too scared to act out, speak up or take a stand because this so-called life we have requires so many delicate, easily-removed aspects that we need to hold onto them, despite our desires to show the world who we are, what we actually believe in or how we really feel.
How many times have you been asked how you are going? How many times have you answered with something mediocre? “Yeah, fine. Thanks for asking,” or perhaps “Great. Yourself?” Why not something more truthful like, “Not so good today, but thanks for asking,” or maybe “You know, I’m feeling amazing today!” Because that would jar the sensibilities of the person asking. It’s not something expected. We have instilled within our society certain protocols that must be followed or we don’t know how to react. Think about it. If a stranger came up to you and handed you a flower, what would you do? Would you take it? Maybe, but you would feel that it was so far removed from the everyday that you would probably feel strange doing it.
What if a person on the street asked you to help them restrain someone you had seen assault another person? Would you help, or would that appointment you’re on your way to take priority? Maybe you’d be afraid to get hurt if the person being held tried to escape before the police arrived. Either way, you would be hesitant.
The same goes for speaking up about things we see as wrong. We are more inclined to do as little as possible to bring it into the light, not really committing ourselves to decisive action, just in case it turns against us. We have become a society so scared to act, so ready to self-censor our actions and speech, because we are holding onto the façade of a life most of us realise upon reflection is not the life we want to be living.
I’m not going to stand by and take a mediocre, safe stance on issues. I don’t want to be afraid to speak up anymore. As people were telling me when I was asking for advice regarding my last post, if someone doesn’t want to employed based on the important topics I write about (or some of the not-so-important ones), then they are probably not someone I want to be working for or with. If no one makes a stand, then the “slacktivists” amongst us will have no one to like or share.