Tuesday 23 June 2020

Armchair activism and being woke

It’s all around us nowadays. Activist movements of all kinds, promoting and protesting things of all sorts – from veganism, diseases, feminism, world hunger, domestic violence just to name a few. Everyone’s got a right to an opinion and everyone has the free will to choose what they want to support. I don’t have a problem with that.

Over the last couple of years my social media seems to be rammed with one movement after another. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which may have been the biggest one of recent times (at least, it felt that way to me) was fantastic as I didn’t really know much about motor neuron disease beforehand. The issue I had was the way I was interpreting the entire thing.

Firstly, the opening speech usually went along the lines of promoting the awareness of the disease but then goes on to say that people had to either donate or perform the challenge. Now, maybe I’m just cynical but I saw a lot more challenges being done instead of donations. Yes, you can argue that by performing the challenge the awareness level was increasing which led to more donations than before but that’s not the issue I’m trying to tackle.

My main gripe is the amount of virtue signalling that has taken place ever since. Years ago I remember asking myself how come the reporters and journalists always seemed to get information on when mainstream celebrities and other famous people were donating to charitable causes. Reading the articles in the magazines at the time, it was almost as if the value they were getting wasn’t just more exposure for them but more exposure of them doing ‘good deeds’.

I put ‘good deeds’ in inverted commas as I believe there are ulterior motives than the ones that appear at first glance. When I’ve donated money and/or my time in the past, I’ve donated to charities and organisations that resonated with me on a personal level. I never really understood having to do a song and dance routine to make sure the whole neighbourhood knew about it. If you really cared about the cause, would it matter whether other people saw you supporting it?

Fast-forward a few years to today and you get the Black Lives Matter movement. Reading various articles on the topic I noted a trend that seemed to hint that if you were not for it, you were against it. This part really got me thinking about the song and dance campaigns I previously mentioned. On my Instagram feed, I saw a few posts by people going all-in on the movement – hashtags, black profile picture, the lot. The thing is, these were people I knew personally (I don’t really follow many accounts of those I don’t know in person) and in the case of some of them, I know they jump on the bandwagon of whatever the current flavour of the month movement is and support it. They're nothing but armchair activists or rather, armchair clicktivists in this day in age.

One thing that has always rung true with my life philosophies is that someone is innocent until proven guilty. With some of these posts and articles I’ve read over the last couple of weeks, it seems that you are now guilty of racism if you aren’t flying the BLM flag high and proud. I always thought that you are a racist if you do racist things. Now it seems you’re a racist if you’re not doing anti-racist things. Maybe it’s just how I see it?

I don’t donate to the various animal sanctuaries near me but I don’t consider myself someone that hates animals. I didn’t go to the gatherings or share anything on social media related to the 8th of March protests but I don’t consider myself to be sexist. I don’t see how not fully immersing myself in BLM makes me a racist.

I’ll keep donating to the causes that I feel most moved by regardless of the social pressure to support other things. Perhaps that doesn’t make me woke but I've already accepted that I will never own the full collection of Facebook profile picture frames.

Saturday 20 June 2020

When help isn't help anymore

I’m sure you’ve heard about how it’s during the difficult times that you find out who your real friends are. These are the ‘ideal’ friends that don’t throw in the friendship towel when the going gets tough, the ones who are prepared to fight a fight that has very little or even nothing to do with them.

Perhaps in an ideal world these are the only friends we surround ourselves with and, in turn, become that type of friend for these people as well. Unfortunately while these theories are plausible, I don’t think that they would work in practice without a very controlled environment and accompanying variables. Stating the obvious – we are unique in every single way possible. No, I’m not trying to push ‘we are all different’ and ‘we all matter’ cards. Factually, we are all different and these are the variables that cause the ‘problem’ in the proposed scenario mentioned previously.

I’m going slightly off topic so let’s get back to the point I originally wanted to make. I had a thought about the concept of the ideal friend that backs you up during the tough times and what sparked my curiosity was how this act could actually be damaging to both parties in the long term.

I think it’s a good thing to give up on people.

There, I said it. In (literally) black and white. Now the sentence may be a bit click-bait but I think that after a certain point, the good of helping becomes bad. Very bad. Help is a finite thing I think (time and resource constraint) and as there’s only so much you can give, once you have exhausted your help resource and your friend does not respond to it and continues in their rut, what is the point of continuing further? Emotion may dictate that you should not give up on this person but logic will say that if all of your help has not been enough so far, why would they suddenly respond to it?

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Anonymous

The above quote is commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein but records and research don’t really prove that it was him, or anyone else specifically, that coined the phrase but that is beside the point right now. I just like to (try to) be accurate.

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” 
– Jessie Potter (1981)

Another quote and when paired with the previous one, illustrates the scenario perfectly to me. To try and help is useless in the long run if the one you are trying to help is refusing to change and adapt. That’s a no-win situation for everyone involved.

From the point of view of the helper, I would say that learning how to give up on someone is a strength and a positive. If you consider that person a friend yet are able to give up on them I think that counts as personal evolution. Sometimes continuing to help someone is the worst thing you can do, despite the intentions. I’m not saying to never help but to know when to stop helping.

Don’t be the lifeguard that gets drowned by the person they are rescuing. Giving up isn't always a bad thing.

Monday 8 June 2020

There's no 'good' in goodbye


I don’t know how that word came about but I’d like to know what exactly is so good about it. According to Wiktionary, the term is derived from ‘God be with you’ but that link is too abstract for my liking and is like saying us human beings are derived from jungle tadpoles which may be true but leaving out all the steps in between is a bit inaccurate in real terms.

As each year passes my disposable time reduces and, as a result, I become more selective with who I spend time with if at all. By that logic, the people I spend time with are usually people I enjoy seeing and being with and when the time comes to part ways it’s more ‘bad’ than ‘good’ in my feelings book.

Don’t confuse that with soppiness because I don’t think it’s that at all. If I took away something you liked you wouldn’t necessarily be happy about it (yes, there are exceptions). You may accept it but not be onboard with the idea surely?

I’m not really one to show feelings but I do have them (sometimes). Maybe I need to stop being too over-selective so that every parting moment is not immediately followed up with eager anticipation of the next time we meet. That’s canine behaviour.

Despite having put my thoughts down as words I still don’t know what any of this is.

All I know is that it isn’t ‘good’.