We live in interesting times. Social media has given us a voice, a platform and an audience like never before. We are all armchair analysts, foaming at our mouths over social inequities and perceived injustices. Each of us has an opinion on politics and current affairs, and boy, do we air those opinions with glee. Our moral duty done, us fickle activists of the lowest order, move on with the more mundane business of living our fairly boring suburban lives. Till the next cause that tickles our fancy comes along. It is a moveable feast after all, with no dearth of succulent meats to sink our proverbial teeth into.
What lies beneath all this moral outrage? A desire for change? The seeds of a revolution? Or, a mere positioning of oneself at the epicentre of social recognition. This is a person with his/her finger on the pulse of what is important. Never mind that the frenzy over what is important changes from one minute to the next. The irony being that, that which is truly important is not sensational enough to warrant attention from the social media parasites.
Perception is King. If the appearance of giving a damn is enough, then why really bother to give a damn? If the headlines are eyeballs grabbing enough, why bother with the facts? We are shallow people with shallow agendas. Our motives are to lynch and demonise. To bring down, not build up. We hide behind our screens, trolling those whose opinions are different from ours. Mocking, laughing and sniggering at the people who are doing the real job of effecting change. Ignorance, impotence and ire are the rungs of this particular ladder.
Eschewing truth in favour of the flavour of the day, we jump on our moral high horses, and are surprised to encounter opposition. After all, isn’t the popular opinion the right one too? No? How dare anyone interfere with our version of the narrative!
The pitfalls lie in believing that whatever we are espousing this moment has no other variables attached to it. Cause, effect and circumstance have multiple facets and complexities, and in downplaying certain aspects to lend credence to others, we put on the blinkers of our biases.
So perhaps, in the midst of spouting all this wisdom, we need to take a moment’s pause and check ourselves. Check our facts, check our sources, check our thoughts, check our prejudices and check our knee jerk emotional responses. Check whether our outrage is rooted in principles or the shifting sands of social media’s topic du jour.
For, in refusing to do any of the above, we are in danger of becoming the very thing that we despise.