It’s about time we calm (the fuck) down.

Thanks XKCD

Some months ago I decided to remove almost every data in my Facebook account. Not because of the usage of my personal data (about which I may have some concerns but mostly don’t care) but to refrain me to go there except for events and the occasional use of Messenger as most of my friends aren’t on something else. I grew tired of the way we show ourselves on social medias, but mostly I grew tired of myself.

Some months ago, I realized I wasn’t myself when I was interacting with people through social medias. It was harder and harder to have grounded conversations based on arguments, and I tended to adopt the two basic reactions of human nature: fight or flight.

I was slowly getting tired of seeing several behavior in my social feeds. Being it anti-science arguments, anti-experts behaviors, constant fearmongering, … but mostly I grew tired about how we seem to have lost our capacity to just listen to other arguments.

Slowly I realized that there was simply no point in trying to discuss things on social medias. Slowly we all became activists for everything in our life. And the problem with activism is its inherent incapacity to listen to any argument going against itself.

But while on social medias I could easily avoid discussions, mask people, perfect my own little bubble, I realized that in real life, a flight or fight response just wasn’t possible. I realized that social medias slowly made me behave in a more agressive and nervous way in real life than what I ever was before. Therefore I decided to slowly cut the cord.

First I purged my Facebook account, then refrained my Twitter usage. Gone are the apps from my phone, but gone also is the stress they made me feel every time I saw someone post something “wrong”. Because I realized that those apps where the go to places I went every time I was bored. But I also came to realize that I was simply trading my boredom against more and more stress.

The impact of this is quite dramatic. I realized that I was behaving in a way I simply hated. But I also realized how people around me were acting on social medias in a way I abhorred.

I don’t know how we are going to evolve as a society, but seeing the constant violence on social medias, I must admit that I’m afraid about our democratic system. Sure we can all live in bubbles where there’s no “violence” (but do we realize how smaller and smaller those bubbles are becoming?), but this isn’t a way to build a society.

This isn’t a post against social medias. I don’t want to be a part of this group that constantly blame the tools. I think there’s something deeply wrong going with us and our ability to interact with other people. Sure our tools granted us a greater digital safe-space, but we are the one who decided to agressively attack any people with a slightly different opinion from our own.

A society is a set of shades, it’s full of colors, it’s not black and white as we tend to see the world. And while activists are necessary, we can’t build a society of activists. Such a society wouldn’t be a dream, but either a totalitarian nightmare or doomed to constant skirmishes.

There’s nothing great in attacking other’s people when they try to discuss and have a different opinion. There’s nothing rewarding in cutting off a discussion with a sassy meme. There’s no greatness in having +100 people blocked on every social medias as soon as they have a slightly divergent opinion. It’s time we calm the fuck down. It’s about time we slowly learn to live all together again if we still want to build something out of this world.

Rise of the orators

Politics. I thought I’d never get back into this, having lost the willingness to understand their shoutings, their fightings, this unbearable division of our society in smaller and smaller parts. But here we go again, as it seems it has become unavoidable lately unfortunately. You might have noticed how it has changed in the last years, losing most of its messages for those strong figures, those talkers, those new orators. As it seems, we’ll never really understand history lessons while we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes over and over, giving up again our convictions, our ideas, for a person that is able to empower a crowd, to rise the angriness and play with the people struggles.

I seem to remember a time, not so long ago, where politics were an idea, a hope, something that we’d look upon to for our future, to build something. Yes they were humans, making mistakes, falling into the same traps we all fall into, but at least they were trying to build something greater than them. Then somewhere along the road we lost this, this willingness to overcome our present to aim for a better future. In the last years, by a dictatorship of the majority, we let orators take bit by bit the power of our democracies. And every time someone tries to warn us, we’re bound to say that “it’s not the same, you’re going to far”. But yes, it is the same, it has always been the same, since the dawn of democracy. As democracy in itself has the root of its destruction. As we’re humans and imperfects, we’re bound to fall to great speeches, to those men and women that can directly talk to our most primary feelings. Anger, fear, sadness, … those are the things they use against us.

Bit by bit, politics has become a giant circus, where the message doesn’t tell much but where what’s relevant is who says it and how. Marketing has embraced politics, shaping our debates with the most terrifying weapons we could think of to shape human minds. There’s not a single bit of project in their message, just crazy talks about how those “others” are “dangerous”, “rapists”, “thieves”, “strange”, “different”. And everyday we’re falling more and more into this sadistic game.

In the United States, we let a terrible man reach the highest states of power, in Turkey we’re giving more and more power to a man who has everything of a dictator, in Belgium we let our politics divide us and block our country about useless things, in Hungary and Chechnya we let them build new camps to protect us from those “others”, in the United Kingdoms we let populists break one of the most beautiful idea our democracies had ever made, in France the current race for presidency has become a nightmare on every side with almost each candidate playing on fear, angriness, avoiding the uneasy questions, and almost all of them trying to control our medias, our information, the fifth pillar of our power.

People have never been this passionate about politics on the other side. But for the wrong reasons. We’re dwelling into a war of feelings, not ideas anymore, refusing to hear the complains of the people who do not think like us, who dare to support another candidate, another hope. As we met the orators win the power, we also let the most demagogues, the most enraged people steal every single topic of discussion we can find. It has now became impossible to talk about racism, LGBT rights, foreign policy, health, or anything on each side. In a time where we’d desperately need moderate people to build a future we could all aim for, we let our society become a gigantic battlefield of fanatics.

And each day, those fanatics are reinforcing our cleavages, by pushing away people who are not truly against them, but aren’t just agreeing with all their agenda. By alienating those diverse opinions to fall into a black and white divide, we’re destroying our democracies and letting the power into the hands of those Manichean orators. We pushed away moderates from the scene and replaced them by performers. But performers, might they be black or white, aren’t willing to build a future. They’re willing to build up their power, their ego, as it’s the exact thing that put them into this position. And every time we try to talk about them, we’re accused of strengthening them, killing in itself the basic idea of a democratic discussion.

We’re all prone to failure, that our beauty and our curse, but still I hope this is not too late. Now I look to France, hoping that my predictions won’t come true, that we won’t let fear win, but still. Still I hope to see moderates come back on the scene, daring to explain to the common people that the world isn’t black and white, daring to challenge people with complex ideas, with real projects encompassing all of our society, embracing our differences. I hope to see moderates fight the fanatics from every side of the battle and tell them that they do not have the right to confiscate our societies, to go on further in this division war we’re in it. Because our world is a colorful rainbow, and it’s in this diversity that we’ll be able to build something greater than us.

Every story of tragedy has a story of heroïsm to go with it. For every Holocaust, there’s a Schindler
 — N.K. Jemisin