Or: Screaming into the Void
Nationwide elections are over and a good 15 million citizens got their collective wishes granted, but political discourse online is still going strong. What a time to be alive.
Everyday, there’s a new post popping up, where instead of breakfast and the beach, concerned citizens are talking about Martial Law and all the things the incoming President is doing wrong.
“Why can’t we all just get along?” his supporters say with smug grins on their faces. They have nothing to complain about anymore, because they’ve already won. But try to ask them to answer the criticisms, and very few of them step up to meet the challenge.
“Where are you now?” says everyone else. But barely anyone is listening anymore – they’ve gone back to their safe lives and business as usual-themed posts, livin’ la vida loca, soaking up all that sunshine before the typhoons start coming in.
Put all of that together and you get a messed-up hodgepodge of opinions clashing against each other on Facebook news feeds.
The point: people are talking politics again.
Even if it’s to pick fights, pick arguments apart, and tell someone how wrong they are – it’s great to see people talking again. Compare this to how indifferent the internet was when the elections started, and it becomes easy to see all this arguing for the spark of hope it is. It’s a new trend that’s more than a little reassuring and one I can get used to.
On social media, everyone’s got something to say. Put a few words together, make a single, workable sentence, and everyone thinks they can write. Scream a little louder, get a little angrier, and everyone thinks they should be listened to. In this day and age, it’s amazing how often we take for granted how free we are to say what we really want – no-holds-barred, unfiltered, straight from the horse’s mouth.
We’re too free? What kind of bullshit is that? Try going a day without offering an opinion on anything – not the weather, not your douchebag taxi driver, not anything – and see how long you last. Most kids can’t even go a couple of hours without posting their food on the internet. What more if we ban free speech altogether?
Believe it or not, people have considered being too free an actual argument to defend nationwide discipline. The only kind of discipline their candidate can give us. Not the candidate you voted for. The candidate I’ve backed since the beginning of time.
Which is now where the heart of the matter lies: nobody wants to be proven wrong.
We’ve done the research, we’ve put in the necessary time for reflection – how can anyone else think we’re wrong? We post to find people who will agree with us. We select the things we read to reinforce our opinions. Very few of us speak up to spark a discussion. Instead, we make noise online to show off how smart we really are.
Here’s the truth of the matter, jefe: nobody knows what the heck they’re doing. Those of us who can talk, do so by mouthing off about the biggest and the most inane things, hoping that we get at least something right. If we do? Then, we let the Likes speak for themselves. And if we don’t? Well, we’re bound to hear from someone sooner or later.
Okay, so not everyone’s like that. Trying to detect intent, after all, is a purely subjective activity, where no right and wrong answers exist.
But social media was made to impress. It gives us avenues to express, but ultimately, we all log in to see how well-off we are compared to the 300+ acquaintances we’ve made online.
That’s democracy, though. We’re supposed to welcome all kinds of opinions, whether they’ve been poorly-researched or not. That’s free speech. We’re free to upload whatever we want online. We’re also free to react to the uploads however we want. But that doesn’t mean we’re free from the responsibility and the criticism that comes after.
You got to wonder now what the end result of all this is. Talking about issues online can only do so much, after all. Talk about something long enough, and you become a talking head – blabbing on and on, but without the body or the willingness to follow it up.
It gets more and more daunting to have an opinion everyday, because with everything being broadcasted online, it’s easier for people to do quick Google searches and poke holes in your arguments. And with more and more people unwilling to follow long discourses on Facebook, all this talking feels like tossing water into the ocean.
But this is the internet. Someone, somewhere, is bound to be listening to you. Sometimes, they’ll agree. Most of the time, they’ll stay quiet and think about it from a distance. But that’s okay. We write to impress, but at the true core of it all is that we write to be heard.
We’re online, because we’re looking for an audience. And as long as you know, in your heart, that this is what you believe in, and as long as you have the data to back it up – then you own whatever you have to say. Fucking own it. Stick with it, but be willing to be proven wrong, if need be.
You never know who’s listening, after all. And if you can’t actively change things on your own – well, that’s okay too. Tupac Shakur did say this once upon a time and look how he ended up.
Okay, so he ended up dead. But consider the influence he’s had on anyone who cared to listen. He died early, but he’s lived forever, in a sense. So, talking on the internet? Not a complete waste of time.
But talk long enough and make enough sense while doing so, and you’ll find that it’s not entirely useless. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even live forever.