Early on, we navigate with an absolute trust and respect for the wisdom of others. We are taught to seek out social connections and wrap ourselves within the reassuring folds of a community and that's the basis of civilization - I have no qualms with that. However, there usually comes a time when personal sacrifices need to be made as an individual grows within any larger group. Our preferences for different values and concepts associated with authority, organization and interdependence are leveled to better fit a common ground and as much as we would like to feign cohesiveness, those who run against the grain are, in a way, quarantined by the community because they don't representative of the local value system. This normalization of behavior is not always a bad thing, in fact, it is precisely the mechanism that helps us assimilate into our workplaces and neighborhoods. Without it, we would have quite a difficult time gaining interpersonal skills more advanced than those that carried us through our primary years, but what if, within our communities (both physical and digital), we are suffering from too much of a good thing? I'd like to point out one of the most obvious benefits to social media: an unmatched ability to engage and challenge anyone within that environment. Thanks to this web, our family, friends and employers can get a fairly accurate idea of our caliber as a human within a few minutes. That's kind of the point.
Ten years ago, we could hide within our communities. Today, as safe as we might feel, we, what we do and what we have done are exposed to anyone diligent enough to dig and I've said it before: what we do now will no doubt reverberate in history. Our descendants will know what their ancestors did, thought and believed. The draw to abstain from expressing ourselves in this day and age is too strong. So how do we know that we're doing the right thing? Is the conservation of an individual's identity more valuable than the community that surrounds them? What do we lose by striving to fit in and how is confrontation a harbinger of peace?
Social shaming is a relatively new thing and people are paying dearly for expressing antiquated and ignorant sentiments publicly. The individual may retain their individualism, but they now are responsible to the society that contains them. We will now go down as the embodiment of our expressions for as long as our digital presence is preserved. I find that a tad humbling and in some instances, frightening.
Now, more than ever, we'll not only be remembered for the stands we took, but those precious few battles that we failed to fight. To make a dent in the timeline, if that is a goal, the individual will need to don their armor and sharpen their intellect. If we choose to hide, we put the dignity of our descendants at risk. It might seem counterproductive, but nothing stands the test of time like a person well versed in revolution. We make choices every day that keep us moving in the same circles. We flip on the television, procrastinate, sign contracts, buy what we can't afford, avoid conflict and generally work to maintain the status quo - even though their are battles being waged all around you. Poverty, starvation, abuse, neglect, pain and despair rage all around us and when we choose to take the safest route in our own lives out of fear of failure, we reinforce the idea that we are unable to change things. But, dear reader, you can. So very easily you can. Use social media to your advantage. Bend it's purpose to suit the changes you want to see.
Bring light to an otherwise dark corner of your environment.
Your community most likely has a food drive that could use some extra attention. There are children in your district who will go to school tomorrow without a jacket, senior citizens who won't eat. You might want a better job, a better life. We all wait for a fire to engulf the unjust, but we're too afraid to be a spark. Everything out there is yours, it's ours, but it needs people willing to actively fight for it. The life without conflict is one half lived and I can only imagine the billions of people who will be able to honor or disgrace us long after we're gone. The opinions of people around you now are cheap compared to the life you might have shown possible to all those who will follow. Be tenacious. Don't stop challenging everything around you until you have to be boxed up and buried underground.