Day Off Blog Post 1: Inspiration, Perspiration, and Libraries.

Hi, blog.

This was my first attempt at a proper real world wordpress blog, with a chosen theme, an attempt at a structure, and even my linked up facebook page to go with it. When I started this, I was looking for a way to continue and expand the social activism that I had been feeling increasingly passionate about all through my university and tumblr days, and I felt I could bridge that gap between the echo-chamber bubble of rhetorical debates about “safe spaces” and TERFs and anti feminist men’s rights activists. At the time of conception, I was feeling burnt out by that cycle, yet still very aware of how important the core beliefs were despite the majority of SJW’s being seen as left-wing loonies. I wanted to make the world of social justice just that tiny bit more relateable and accessible, covering what it is like to be a social justice warrior, from someone who wasn’t afraid to embrace that label.

(These pictures were painful to find, does this toxic nonsense give anyone else war-flashbacks? I’m never going back to analysing this kind of stuff, it’s not worth my time, not that I ever seriously spent much time actually on this variety of content.)

Even as I type this jargon out now, I’m making typo’s and having to think just a little too hard about what exactly MRA stands for. As is clear from my lack of activity on this blog, and my growing lack of focus, the original mission statement has fallen away somewhat. I can know longer unironically embrase myself as a social justice warrior, although I’m still proud of my beliefs. I can no longer relate to the insulated bubble of uni-politics, and tumblr-politics, and other places where the minutiae block out all other schools of thought sans a brief “…and of course it’s important to bear in mind other schools of thought too” before leaping back into the familiar bathroom debate and plugging our fingers in our ears.

In my time away from this blog, I have realised several things:

  • I’m still very interested in writing a blog. However, like with most things, practise has got to make perfect. Instead of endlessly tweaking my about page to try and encapsulate a theme for this blog and then failing to follow through on it, I am going to delete my about page and practise writing on each of my days off until I have enough of that mystical being called “content” to actually describe and categorise something.
  • I’ve spent a fair bit of time away from deep thinking about political things, and I’ve been focusing my own energy more on my own mental health and trying to manage my own free time and find out more about myself, but I’m now ready to start looking outwards again, and my writing is going to have to be broader than political in order for me to keep quality and quantity at a sustainable level.
  • This blog is going to get just a little more personal, basically, and I’m going to aim to write on all of my days off  (4 days a week).

I’m also going to spend a little more time on the actual wordpress site itself, as I’ve recently in the last month rediscovered my joy of reading, and I’m now going to dedicate a little more time to following through on that. (I am still a little in disbelief that libraries are FREE, and as such I’ve lately got very annoying at work talking about all the books that I’ve read. Ah well.

I really enjoyed and appreciated that a couple of my articles, mainly Being the sole Social Justice Warrior got a couple of likes over the time that I’ve been gone, and that really makes me happy. I’ve never been quite so arrogant as to presume I’m writing for an audience, but I’m only human and it’s really sweet of people to like my content, it makes me feel important and also glowy ^_^. Ideally, I want to get into the habit of writing enough that I create more and better content, and maybe create something useful or interesting for even a couple of other people than myself, that would really be the point of writing here.

Hopefully I’m going to get better at editing!

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Note: Because I can’t really just get back in this water with no real motivation, I’ve got to admit that the latest kick in the arse was from a book called Blood Sweat and Tea by Tom Reynolds (Brian Kellett), which I picked up in, yes you guessed it, the library, my new favouritest of places. Not only was it a fantastic book/blog read experience, it was also a great example to me. Tom/Brian was writing this whilst he worked in the ambulance service, with all the stress and weird shift patterns that entails, yet was managing to write a post almost every day of the week. Sure, that might be more than would be necessary for me, but hey, I’ve really worn down the excuses I had that I was moving house, that I was starting a new job, that I was finding myself, that I was figuring out what to do with the blog, and now here we are, in unedited, unabridged, unfocused free writing hell. You’re welcome! And thanks for reading ^_^ 😀

My Activism Journey and how the Digital Economy Bill got caught up in it

Since the world as I knew it turned totally fascist two Tuesdays ago, I’ve been looking at activism with fresh eyes. No longer for me is it a conscieable option to simply sign the occassional petition and hope for enough money to go to a protest, or choose a career in meaningful inter-personal work and generally be a good example of loving diversity in society, I feel a need to do more.

In that vein, I have been looking at crises (awful word) with a vewito see what I can actually do to them. My tumblr dashboard has been flooded with information about the considerable impact that just ringing an office can have compared to an email, but for most American situations, I’m not going to get away with pretending to be a concerned citizen, and I’d rather leave that energy to the people who do live there.

At last, after a few days of idly scrolling various sites with few urgent UK actions leaping out to me, one landed. You can probably tell by the title which campaign that was.

Specifically, it was this article in the Guardian that popped up and made me take notice; titled “Restricting niche porn sites is a disaster for people with marginalised sexualities”. Hardly the most high-brow cause to catch my attention, but the connotations of this bill are worrying, even when they make for tacky-sounding, eye-catching headlines. I had known about part of this since 2014, when there were campaigns about banning face-sitting in paid-for porn content. I don’t actually watch porn, but even at the time that sounded unfair, and difficult to enforce. I don’t recall actually doing anything though.

Not this time however, I was going to follow through with my feeling of unease at dubous moral-sounding censorship and find out exactly what was going on. Cue this monstrosity when I look for the actual bill:

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Horrifying, but I continued:

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Argh, it somehow got worse!
As you can see, the actual bill, in all its (dry, dull, jargon-filled) entirety is available for any old blogger to see. That’s pretty cool, for someone who is curious above and beyond their level of comprehension, and worth bearing in mind for future parliamentary processes.

Armed with this excessive tool for research,  I tried to dive deeper into the questions of censorship this article raised,  and what possible reasoning there could be for it getting so far in parliament.

It turns out, it’s framed as for children, that’s what the costly age-verification requirement is about, and this bit could drive independent sites out of business according to the owner of Dreams of Spanking and author of the guardian article, Pandora Blake. It wasn’t clear to me if that cost would fall to producers, and it wasn’t made clearer by the helpful-sounding “Age-Verification Provider: Designation and Funding” section, because with all the referrals back, there’s barely anything in each actual section. The line (terminology leaves me behind, apologies) labelled 6 states that: “The Secretary of State may pay grants or make loans to the age-verification
regulator to cover expenditure incurred in the carrying out of its functions.
“, which to me reads as it being state-funded, at least in some part, and at least state-provided.

But I’m no expert, and I began to question if it would not be a better solution to check age as part of a ISP function, like with parental controls…struck by the fundamentally bizarre logic that the government is assigning itself as everyone’s parents, and forcing everyone to have parental controls on their provider, without a choice or other option, and that does seem very wrong.

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Other individuals seem to have had this thought too, if you’re going to meddle in censorship, do you even have a workable plan, UK government? Business Insider thinks not “The UK is banning ‘non-conventional’ porn and it could censor huge swathes of the web“,and raises a lot of good points about mixed social media sites, with a wide range of age ranges and content available. Someone, somewhere in the policy rooms, has either already thought up a detailed answer to this or is thinking it up right now, but it doesn’t mean much if we in the general public have to wait until this bill is realised in order to see how it will work. This was the first part that I decided I needed to ring someone about…and then wrote my blog post before doing that, but stay tuned for when I do, coming sometime next week!

In my travels, I found further interesting points about this bill for example WebDevLaw in “Idiocy By The Back Door” considers its huge scope, and how its structure allows a lot of significant issues to be ignored; which is worth mentioning before I continue to contribute to ignoring significant issues and focusing on the porn.

 

My solitary excuse for this is that personally I agree with the view presented by many, including Sex and Censorship that porn is the canary in the mineshaft of personal freedoms. There’s a distinct feeling of pearl clutching in the specific acts affected by this law, coming directly from the 2014 law in which paid-for online pornographic content became rated by the BBFC same as DVD’s . Sex and Censorship did a good job in pointing out what a lot of mainstream reporters failed to pay attention to at the time, that it wasn’t to do with even subconscious sexism, even if it sounds like it, and has that effect. For example, face-sitting. Hysteria ensued when it was described as unnrateable by the BBFC, and therefore could not be available in paid-for online content in the UK, but looking into the logic more thoroughly than you would normally ever want to in Myles Jackman’s incredibly thorough guide, you can see that dick-sucking to the point of risking breathing is also unrateable, and that facesitting is allowed as long as airways are clear.  Again, at this point it is acceptable to sit back again and wonder why on earth the government cares this deeply about what’s going on in our respective knickers, and doesn’t this all feel a bit invasive?

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The excuses, which I am finally getting to, lie in obscure old laws that do provide a decent service on the face of it; The Obscene Publications Act of 1959 and the amendment of 1964, protecting the general public from bestiality and necrophilia, for example. The confusing part is the subjective judgement required in judging whether material is likely to “deprave and corrupt” those likely to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it. The BBFC heavily leans on this act in order to create its ratings, which means items viewed as violating the OPA are refused ratings, and somehow, this has got twisted to the point that anything that could be significantly dangerous in pornographic material will be refused a rating, when a simple “do not try this at home or without professional training” disclaimer would surely be sufficient? This is phone call number two, that I *still* haven’t made yet, and you should still stay tuned for, not to say that the answer doesn’t exist, it’s just impossible to find for the average blogger (i.e me).

The Adult Provider Network is a trade association which provided a rebuttal to this section of the bill, a part that promised to essentially ban any unrateable content. They raise the incredibly valid point  material designated as pornographic is held to a completely different standard than regular entertainment material, despite being a subjective and delicate difference between mediums;
“Depictions of a person gagged with all four limbs bound are prohibited content, and yet depictions of this act in a sexual context are permitted in 18 classified mainstream media entertainment such as Hollywood films.”, and several other pertinent suggestions for improvement and potential pitfalls that are interesting to read. They pretty much mirror the original Guardian article sentiment, but in formal bill-memo terms.

Conclusion

The Digital Economy Bill is a monster of a bill in every respect, and so it is complicated in many facets. It doesn’t only concern porn, but copyright law, and internet provision too, and this is how politics takes over, by being so huge and intimidating that we cannot understand it, let alone provide reasonable rationales against it. But slowly, I will be trying to uncover more information for my own purposes in the next few days, and maybe it will make sense, or it will be even more outrageous. Either way, fighting starts with knownledge, and damn, I have a lot more respect for lawyers and bill-writers and policy-makers etc. than I have ever had before now!

Until the next time, good luck and happy interneting!


Sources/Further Reading:
http://mylesjackman.com/index.php/my-blog/106-the-following-content-is-not-acceptable

http://sexandcensorship.org/2014/12/censorship-not-sexism/

The Digital Economy Bill 2016: idiocy by the back door

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2016-2017/0087/cbill_2016-20170087_en_1.htm

Memories of Resistance

Vitally important information, and all round a real quality blog to follow too. We need to actively make a difference and not rely on the power of conscience alone to protect the rights of everyone.

GODS & RADICALS

In the few days since the election result in the USA, people started reaching out to each other: to show solidarity, to get organised, to share ideas. One of those ways was the sharing of memories of previous forms of resistance to fascism, racism, and sexism, and the conditions we were resisting. In particular, I thought back to the 1970s and 1980s, when we lived in fear of nuclear annihilation, and the majority of people were unapologetically sexist, racist, and homophobic.

The 1970s and the 1980s were bloody awful. I was a child then, but I remember the first Indian kid at my school, and someone saying something racist to her, and me shouting at them. I told them that they were afraid of her because she was different.

People would openly say the N-word, all the time. And when my parents sold their house in 1987, the neighbours came to…

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How to love doing bad

*publishing this less-than-perfect both as a support to my argument and as a way to something, anything, published and hopefully get back into the groove.*

So I haven’t blogged in a while now, so I’d thought I’d write about why I even bother.
I knew I wanted to write something general about how stuff getting done is good, about how the value of practise is in the doing, expressing yourself. How activism is good because it is good, not because it makes the world perfect. Hopefully this will inspire you, if you feel like you need it, to get out and get doing your terrible terrible talentless hobbies, because it’s worth it. Here’s why:

1. Getting stuff done is good. The act of having “done” something has an outcome, which sounds obvious but it really can’t be overstated. It’s really important to value what we can do, and what we have done. Not in qualititive or quantative terms, but in inherent meaning. That you are alive today is a good thing. That you did something that you wanted to do is a good thing, regardless of whether you did it well. What matters is that you did it.
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2. Getting stuff done encourages you to get more stuff done. We are free, mostly. But we can easily act like we’re not, convince ourselves that it’s not worth starting anything, be it a change in career path or a creative project, because we’re not good enough yet.

But when you’re paralysed with fear of failure, you’re going to do nothing, and that’s far worse than making something terrible. That’s worse than making a monstrosity of a project or a terrible awful truly just bad all round choice; because you’re stagnant. You’re not learning from that. You’re frozen, what kind of a life is that?

By contrast, when you do stuff, you start to fail. And you generally, live to paint something awful/write a terrible post/sing badly another day. Generally, you keep living through your failures, and after a certain point, you realise that there’s no shame in failing. I failed constantly to be cool, and popular, but here I am still. You get tougher. You can do more and more and more things, because it’s good to do things, and it gets more fun.
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3. Doing stuff makes you better. Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, but does anyone believe it? And does it even matter if we do if we then interpret it wrongly? The people who are the most successful in life are not people who forced themselves into practicing an activity because they wanted to become good, they are people who did an activity enough that they became amazing because they enjoy the simple act of that activity; for what it is, not for the potential status symbol their talent would eventually become.

We think that doing stuff badly isn’t worth it, but that 99% perspiration that’s talked about? Bad stuff is what that’s made of, “bad” stuff is the seeds of good stuff, and not only that, it is valuable and good in its own right, in an expression of freedom and in the choice that you made to take that action. Don’t aim to be great, aim to have fun, and then if greatness comes, it’s only a perk that came of the main aim; to have fun and be a human who does things because it is good to do things.

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4. Doing things sends a message and makes a difference.
Activism is often held to a similar backwards standard; we can’t achieve perfection, so why would we even start? But again, the value is in the meaning of the actions we choose to take. “Someone”‘s (actually Bree Newsome‘s) action to take down a violent Civil War flag isn’t just that action, it’s a statement, with meaning beyond any larger picture. It tells people, she was brave enough to do this. She believes in this. This was done, by another person, who I could be like. Newsome’s action has value in how she inspired others, and in the story that her choice tells.

It’s not her only contribution to politics, she was arrested in 2013 about voter rights, but she’s simultaneously not an activism legend. She’s another person trying make this world a better place. Her personal inspirations for taking that leap into activism come from simply existing as a black female horror film creator; nothing magical, just something human and natural and most importantly, ordinary. Not perfect or unnattainable.

Each part of what you choose to do is valuable both on its own, and as part of a bigger picture, of personal development, of a part in the continuing civil rights movement, or whatever it is that is among the things you care about (and are about. Typos are fun!)
It will inspire you, and maybe others, to become more than what you currently are. It matters *because* you did it.

5. Doing things promotes personal growth in general.
Something that is “bad” is actually something that is simply new. Something that scares you, something that challenges you. This isn’t bad. This is an opportunity to learn. Every hurt is a lesson, every lesson makes you stronger. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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We should REVEL in our bad talents. Our talents that aren’t actually talents yet, just good, just projects, just growth. Even when they don’t get any better, there’s still value. There’s value in learning about yourself, about how you handle frustration, how you deal with it, in seeing a hurdle, and reaching it. How hard this is to do and how long it takes for you to master it, gives extra beauty to how incredible the works of other people are. It teaches you how you handle jealousy and envy, it gives you humility in knowing what you cannot do (yet, or ever, it doesn’t matter).

A girl I know hates her art. Doesn’t everyone know this girl? Either that, or you are that girl. She looks at her art, that others admire, and hates it for not being what she wants it to be. She can’t see anything else, and even if she does, she can’t admit it, because it’s not perfection, or even good by her own standards, to like it would be a failure.

Ultimately, can we reach a better way?

But what if instead we revel in the boring “progress” part of the journey? The part that is beautiful because you made it, not because it’s perfect. The part that reflects that you love this, and you’re succeeding in doing this, purely driven by love and expression. Alternately, we could all decide tomorrow to have low standards; so we’ll always exceed them and we’ll never be disappointed again. Nihilism, “shoot for the stars and if you miss you’ll die in space which is pretty cool” style. Learning to revel in the mediocre, the fabric of everyday life. Choose your shitty hobbies and run with them, learn from them and enjoy them. Fill your home and your life and your time with rubbish, your very own carefully selected and lovingly nourished rubbish.

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Me, surrounded by all my awful but amazing things, which are great because they are mine. (Image shows a happy yellow labrador who’s head is poking out of an enormous background of autumn leaves.)

To finish off; here, have a song that I love because it likes to relentlessly jolt me into activity the moment I start playing it:

The Triumphant Return of AHSJC to Teh Interwebz

Hi all, I am back. Watch this space for some poor-quality content whilst I ease myself back into writing blog posts again, because my situation since I last blogged was completely different, as I now live with my boyfriend and no longer have to travel that *enormous* 15 minute walk to his house, I should theoretically be doing more blogging. Thank goodness the internet finally caught up to me, now I can actually have no excuse for not writing! (…godammit.)

Recap and more new upcoming blog ideas as of right now (yes, the last “upcoming” still haven’t been published, they will get there eventually!):

  • Amber Heard And Jonny Depp; The (Misogynistic, Historically Relevant) World of Celebrity Break-Up And Divorce
  • Don’t Have Kids (And Then Be Mean To Them)
  • Diagnosing Myself vs Being Diagnosed; what’s the point of diagnosis, and is either system better?
  • When the Enemy is “Right”: Why that doesn’t mean you’re “Wrong” and the Persuasive Power of Nuanced Discourse
  • You will change your Mind…so does what you Think Right Now even Matter?
  • How To Actually Get That Crappy Retail Job You Need

Thanks for all the likes I got on my last update, I felt very loved. Here’s to another era of bad social justice meta-blogging!

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[Photograph shows a happy relaxed golden retriever dog wearing a blue party hat with a fluffy base, facing to the camera whilst glitter confetti is seen in soft focus in the background.]

Have No Internet, Cannot Be Interesting About It, Have Nothing Of Value To Say

I’ve moved house, and have now had no wifi for three weeks. I’d like to be interesting, and write an insightful passage about how being unable to plug into tumblr and facebook constantly has enriched my life and helped me start reading again, but I only have two hours free wifi at this coffee shop, and frankly, YouTube is calling, so nothing serious going out today, just a little post to remind everyone that I do exist, and I do care about this blog.

Upcoming posts I’m planning right now in my head are:

  • Amber Heard And Jonny Depp; The (Misogynistic, Historically Relevant) World of Celebrity Break-Up And Divorce
  • Don’t Have Kids (And Then Be Mean To Them)
  • Diagnosing Myself vs Being Diagnosed; what’s the point of diagnosis, and is either system better?

Please don’t forget me, just because I’m now living in the 90’s (I’ve been watching a lot of Friends on DVD, and am re-reading Bridget Jones yet again), I haven’t forgetten about you, and I will be back with a flourish, soon…hopefully….please Sky, I need my internet, please. (Please.)
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You’re a Hypocrite! What about MY free speech!

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Again, I’m borrowing from the amazing NaoiseDolan, this can be found at naoisedolan.com/freeze-peach/

What’s going on in the Hypocrisy/FreezePeach Argument?

If you’ve ever tried to have a meaningful conversation with a casual bigot on the internet ever you’ve had this conversation:

Them: *bigoted casually harmful thing* Just my opinion though!
You: That opinion is trash and perpetuates stereotypes and harmful thinking towards a group of people.
Them: Excuse me?! FREE SPEECH though!! You’re oppressing my opinion!
You: I’m not “oppressing it” I’m just telling you it makes you look like an arsehole. I’m not stopping you.
Them: But you SJW’s don’t want me to judge anyone ever though, you think you’re free from criticism, so this is #oppression, this is unfair, this is the real tragedy here.
You: You’re aware that you are literally judging me right now right?!?

So what’s going on here? Are they trying to bait you? Are they living on another planet? Is this actually reality and have you been deceived the whole time and good is actually bad and you yourself are in fact worse than Stalin?!? (Probably, probably not, and probably not.)

Essentially, most people start out as whiny babies with no concept of other people outside of themselves. They can see themselves being criticised, and feel hurt, alienated, maybe even isolated and confused, and think, damn this is awful, how is this even allowed? If you’re never challenged on anything or taught to think for yourself, this doesn’t change as you grow up. People who are most insulated by privilege are the most likely to fit this description, because the world around them is quite literally, catered to reflect them. There’s no need to think for yourself if everything around you agrees with your own narrative.

The Moment You Inadvertedly Create a Police State in Your Comment Section

When you come across them online with a contradictory viewpoint, they are threatened on a level they probably don’t quite understand. They know that you’re presenting something different and therefore #wrong, but also that you are quite happy and confident in what you believe, despite your blatant Wrongness! How, when they are Right and you are Wrong can you be so composed??  Clearly, you must be under some illusion that you are perfect and actually Right, and that no one can disagree with you! So bam, look what you’ve got coming your way now, you got some DISAGREEMENT. Some DISSENT. Ooooohh how you going to handle THAT now, come on!

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Actual image of what Mra’s and other casual to semi-pro bigots think they are dealing with

They turn against your opinion in the hope that it will shock you just as much as having their opinion challenged has shocked them. Unfortunately for them the playing field isn’t quite even here; if you’re touting an alternative viewpoint, not only are you used to having your opinion shouted down and disagreed with, but also, you are used to thinking for yourself, and not needing the approval of others to have conviction in your beliefs.

So it’s completely boring. Once you’ve had a couple dozen of these conversations, you know exactly how it goes, and no, you’re not surprised that they think you are an “evil totalitarian dictator from hell”, like you always thought you were the opposite of, because of course you are, it’s obvious and immediate, it’s the easiest possible insult there is for someone who’s trying to fight for fairness and freedom, to try and hit us with the “not fair!” card. It’s simple and its aim is to be paralysing, but you can think for yourself, and know that’s not how fairness works.

Like a child who incessantly shouts this though, the people who call you out on this have no idea how fairness works, they barely have an honest concept of what “fair” is, outside of their own hurt feelings. They genuinely believe that justice is all about feelings, because to be fair to them, they’ve never been taught anything else. They’ve always been taught that you shouldn’t be racist or sexist or homophobic because it hurts people’s feelings; a simplistic model that doesn’t address the greater systematic context of harmful actions but it’s easy to explain to kids and gets them to stop propagating said actions. It’s great for a start, but the problem is that once you’ve learned to shut up about the right things at the right moments with the right people, that’s when most people stop learning about what fairness in society means.

So you are actually Fair…now what?

No, you can’t convince them that you are being fair. You can’t convince them that your challenging viewpoint wasn’t built around criticising them and making them feel bad and that therefore it’s not allowed in the constitution or whatever they believe in.

That’s not fun. If they are a troll, they exploit that to try and guilt people into taking it back, or just waste their time trying to convince said troll of their good intent and pure meaning. If they aren’t a troll, they probably will sound the same, but either way, it’s a waste of your time. It’s not truly you who hurt them, it’s the shock of other viewpoints, one of which you happen to hold and you happened to voice.

Now maybe it’s a bit patronising to call it a “shock”: these other views are hardly unheard of, radical ideas like “equal pay” and “stop police killings” are everywhere in media. But the shock comes in realising that other people believe in this, and there’s not much you can do about that except trust in the process of awareness that worked on yourself. No one suddenly became aware of social inequality after one comment by a friend or anonymous message, but equally, no one became aware without those initial interactions. Allow yourself to be that first hurdle, or even the fith or the tenth or the hundredth. You’re not taking something away, you are adding a hurdle, and certain people don’t like being challenged. You could stop challenging them, but does that really help anyone in the long run? You could try and tell them this isn’t a personal challenge and it really shouldn’t be a challenge, but nonetheless, it will still be a challenge to them if they haven’t had to find away around it yet.

Ultimately, the only way people will realise that Dissent is okay, and that it’s not a threat to their Free Speech, is once they learn to think for themselves in the way that so many others have been forced to since birth. It is not your responsibility to do that for them, partly because you literally cannot, it’s in the phrasing “for themselves”. The most that you can do is lead by example, and hope that one day, they’ll find a better way through this hurdle than yelling at it for existing.

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Don’t shove your opinion down my throat…let people get over the stage where they are just yelling variations of this at you.

 

*Disclaimer: It is better to publish something than let it sit in drafts forever. xx*