I am a non-practicing lawyer, but my reasons for studying law have never changed. My spirit for justice runs deeper than an unstitched wound. It’s a long story – the way I came to this – but long story short, I’m now an academic course material developer. I don’t know if it’s getting older, but it’s scary to have the minds of future professionals in my hands.
It’s scary that my voice could indirectly impact the way someone feels or thinks about change.
It has forced me to think deeply about the concept of a voice in our digital world, and the responsibility that comes with it.
I’m a firm believer that most social media users fall into two categories: posters for likes, and posters for reaction (whether it be meaningful or shocking doesn’t matter).
The latter, I don’t mind too much. That reaction comes from something that matters inherently on some level, but the former irks me. Because even though both are embedded in ego, there’s an element of laziness attached to the first, in my opinion. (I said what I said.)
Let me start here – I am not a fan of apathy or complacency. And sometimes it frustrates me seeing nothing but emptiness in my virtual surroundings. Sometimes I scroll through my feed and I wonder if anything means anything to anyone anymore. Especially the 19 to 24-year-old age group. (No shade.)
The captions aren’t even original, guys? What are you doing?
I literally wanted to deactivate my entire profile this morning because I just haven’t made up mind about the superficiality.
Social media has always been about some level of flex, but three months into 2020, this flex feels different.
Sometimes I wonder if people are hustling for real or for fame. Instagram has become a breeding ground for self-advertisement and that would be fine if you could feel the hunger, and not the thirst.
It’s not enough.
There was a time where consciousness was encouraged. And it had nothing to do with a university degree, and everything to do with giving a fuck. Does anyone truly give any fucks about anything anymore?
“Be grateful for blessings
Don’t ever change, keep your essence
The power is in the people and politics we address
Always do your best, don’t let the pressure make you panic
And when you get stranded
And things don’t go the way you planned it
Dreamin’ of riches, in a position of makin’ a difference
Politicians and hypocrites, they don’t wanna listen
If I’m insane, it’s the fame made a brother change
It wasn’t nothin’ like the game”
Tupac, Me Against The World
I wish people would think about the derivation and the point. Are you all deriving any growth from these self-involved picture experiences? Is there ANYTHING you feel passionate about outside of yourself?
I’m not saying don’t post the pictures from Ultra, but there must be something else, right?
Maybe this will jog something in yourself. Here’s how it happened for me:
At the age of 5, my mother sat me down to watch Chris Hani’s funeral on the news with her. She told me that this was an important moment in our history. I didn’t know what that meant but I stayed glued to the television because she told me to.
The next year, she reminded me of the funeral I had watched and explained that she and my father were finally going to vote. And so were my grandparents. Imagine? All those years of living without the right to vote? Thinking about it now, it boggles me. She wasn’t much younger than I am now. That was only 26 years ago.
When I was 11, I borrowed a paperback copy of The Long Walk To Freedom from the library. I remember sitting on a tiled, arched windowseat in the entryway of our new lounge, my nose buried. My parents moved into our first owned-home in about 8 years after renting or living with my grandparents for most of the early 90s.
I could not put it down.
That same year, I was 100% certain that I was going to study law. In my mind, the only way to fight injustice was to become a lawyer. “That’s what Nelson Mandela did! So I must do it too!” I used to stare at the mirror and envision myself as the president. I knew I had something to say, I just didn’t know what. I reveled in my grandfather’s activist stories from his youth, and the political debates that were a regular occurrence in my home. It made me feel alive.
And that’s how I knew I had something that needed to be said. Years later, after battling years of mental illness, I realised it’s what I need to do something about.
I remind myself of this every time I post. I literally ask myself, Is this in line with your values?
What is that moment for you in your life?
I am beyond grateful for growing up in a home where my voice was respected; where opinions and debate were the norm. Both my brother, Mahesh, and I were encouraged to form opinions on almost everything. (And it didn’t always serve me well. In fact, as a teenager and young adult, I was fairly disliked, isolated, and left out because I was too outspoken. Those years were really lonely.)
But I realise that this experience isn’t everyone’s experience. I can empathise that spirited conversation is not how everyone grows up. I get that silence is the norm for most.
But living a superficial life can’t be the answer. It surely can’t. I know there has to be more to people than the meaningless pictures with the wasted captions.
You don’t have to change yourself or your lived experience to have a voice, you just have to be willing to care beyond yourself.
You have to give a fuck.
About your legacy. About your purpose. About something.