Part of a new series of posts where I write with what I have to hand at the time. No research, no interviews, no expectations – just snippets of thoughts as I go along, as and when I feel able to talk.
In the wake of the weekly clapping ritual, minute silences and a myriad of other national campaigns: when did we lose the ability to think and act for ourselves, I find myself asking. Why do these collective acts feel so compelling, and why are we happy to let them overshadow the thoughts and actions that would actually make a difference? And – crucially – why do we cast judgement on those who resist the common notion?
My fear is that, like so many things, social media, with its immediate availability for herd mentality and virtue signalling, has led us to a point where NOT taking part is seen as an act of evil. I look on with disappointment as I watch the posts pour into my local Facebook group each week: “Can’t believe no one on my street came out to clap. So disrespectful!” Just as with Remembrance Day and its silences, ceremonies and poppies, a lack of cohesion is met immediately with disdain.
Collective acts can instil a sense of togetherness, which should be merited. But they can also offend, exclude, and fall short of the tangible activism that the cause desperately needs. As explored here, they also serve to restrict the exploration of the broader issue.
We should not be measured on the action we do or don’t take in the public eye. I fear we’ve fallen into a narrative where, unless something is spoken about publicly, it didn’t happen. We must not forget the individuals who donate to charity every day without saying a word. We must not forget the parent who grieves for a child behind closed doors. We must not forget the sexual assault victim who chooses not to write about it. Just because we can’t see it, hear it, or feel it ourselves, it does not mean it never happened.
The actions of others don’t need to be your guidebook. Ask yourself: what does this make me feel? What does it make me want to do? Go from there.