Today I tried a little experiment. I shared a post on Facebook. Something important, (one could argue, vital), about which I feel very strongly. I have nearly five hundred ‘followers’ on social media, nearly all are actual friends or known acquaintances; linked to me, supposedly, by shared values, experiences or interests. I sincerely doubt that many of those I regularly connect with would disagree with the message the post conveyed; indeed, many would have taken it much further. Yet, as I have come to expect, there was almost no reaction. From anybody. This was no great surprise to me: it’s happened before.
I discuss matters that are important to me with my friends in person. On the phone. In messages. I talk about them at work – oh yes, I talk! I have become known for my ‘rants’. I am far from ashamed. Call it passion, compassion, whatever you like, but in many instances, it’s sheer horror and outrage that I simply can not turn a blind eye to. Why should I? How can I? How can the people around me? How can you?
Today’s post concerned the ongoing decimation of Gaza and the attempted genocide of the Palestinian people by the current Israeli regime. I understand it might be a sensitive topic, and Facebook itself is probably complicit in the dumbing-down of information, and not ‘showing’ my post when people look at their news feed. It prefers to offer pretty photographs alongside the highly irritating adverts which exhaust me every time I log on. People seem to find my kayak photos easily, yet not the truly important posts. Or do they?
A few years ago I posted something, no doubt Brexit-related, that I needed everyone to see. There was nothing in my life more important at that time, so obviously I wanted to share it with my people. It received not one comment. I waited. In vain. So I took a photo of a bowl of homemade soup, and posted that. It was a beautiful purple colour, made from locally-grown ingredients and shown to perfection in a Highland Stoneware bowl. It received 119 ‘likes’ within a couple of hours. Yes, it was wonderful soup. But this inanity incenses me.
How is a bowl of soup more important than Brexit? Than the annihilation of an entire nation? The possibility of World War 3? Can soup fix the world’s ills?
I don’t get it.
Perhaps my friends and acquaintances are battle-weary. They simply can’t bear another disaster – cutting ourselves adrift; voting in utter clowns; earthquakes, floods and endless, pointless cruelty and war. Photographs of someone’s dinner makes them feel warm, fuzzy and safe so they don’t have to remember the real world. Or do they think I’m catastrophising? Am I sharing alarmist propaganda, or simply voicing the truth? ‘Oh, it’s just Mary, banging on again.’ Eye-roll.
I prefer to see it as a somewhat futile attempt at spreading some love. Love must grow so that hatred is suffocated.
I’m a great believer in small acts of kindness, and yes, they can begin at home. Eventually they might spread, in a small but insidious way. They can never be enough to help those who have lost their homes, loved ones, livelihoods – or lives. It can not stop the aggressors any more than praying to their various gods will. But it’s something we can all do – be kind. Sometimes, though, we must just speak out. And it disturbs me greatly that people I regard as friends don’t want to listen. Or have become so sensitised they can no longer hear.
I will continue with the love. But if I feel strongly about something I will shout about it and I will never stop shouting. I expect real friends to shout with me. I want to see you shout in public, not in private. I want to know you stand against hatred, cruelty, bigotry, oppression, destruction, greed, abuse of power. If you know me, you know I have opinions. If you like me, you will share most of them. What I want is for you to say out loud that you stand by the underdog and that you will never, never stop striving for a better, more compassionate world. I don’t need to know if you like my soup. Even if it was rather delicious.