All across the board, our social media platforms encourages one thing- that we have a “voice” and a message to tell the world. This is free speech, and we all have agency. But the thing about a “speech” is, it has a purpose to a specific public; and the thing about agency is, its only considered agency if your speech is towards an agent that has the power to affect change. So what kind of free speech are we putting forth today? What are you talking about? and to whom?
It all started with how I was starting to get a little sick hearing my own voice (the irony is not lost that I’m still talking about “I”). Its all about what I’m doing at the present moment, I was talking about myself, tweeting every funny thought that runs through my mind and looking for a response, a semblance of a connection to my fellow man who would probably feel the same, or think the same, or have something equally funny to reply.
While I value freedom of expression, and put human connection above many things, there are things I really question about all this “standing on soapboxes shouting out everything to everyone” culture these platforms have built.
Then there are the angry tweets, the extremely critical tweets, the judgmental tweets made towards all factions of society. The only thing those sorts of expressions were doing is making people more aware of what they shouldn’t tweet about, lest it incurred your passive aggressive fury, lest you be the subject of their latest critique.
Of course by this, I’m not discounting all the wonderful things our new media is capable of doing, has done, and continues to do. For all the radical movements it has brought about, for all the change, the shared, useful information, and for this new found, profound sense of unity and belonging it has managed to rally.
But to find the immense good, we first have to sift through this great pool of “nothing”, a tweet saying “sigh”, or a mediocre ho-hums, or complaints about work and life. Of course, this too is a reflection of our present times. Our generation especially, now faces a new plague; while generations past went through wars and depression, today, our burden is that we no longer know hardships. Today we have greater material wealth than any generation before us, but at the expense that we live in such a comfortable existence, we are no longer resilient. The slightest break of our comfort, and we complain, we break, we crack, we give up.
So today I thought long, and I thought hard about what I really wanted to say, and at the end of it I just think, I don’t want to just “say” anything anymore, I just want to do more. I want to do more than criticize an MP or talk about the bigotry in our government system. More than tweet about the latest aunty/uncle/driver/pedestrian on the street that irritated us. We talk so much, express so much, but actually “do” so little about it.
Today I focus, and hope that everyone else focuses more on the “being”. Being the person you want to see in the world, isn’t just a cliched line uttered every once in awhile to stir a mind. It can actually be done. So this doesn’t mean that I will stop tweeting nonsense, I can hardly help myself. But its more of a call to do more than talk.
For the romantics, a prose:
“I can’t hear my voice anymore.
I realized how easy it was for me to speak, because what I knew back then was limited.
Now my insides are filled with the speech of others, that my voice became my brothers’
but I will wade through the muddied waters to find it.
So I’m a little more lost, but struggling hard to regain it,
and finally retain it.”