In the last couple of weeks, as Ferguson, Missouri got much, much, worse, and then—slowly, painfully, hopefully—began to get a bit better, I thought a lot about how I was consuming and using the news. I was consuming through social media, namely Twitter, because there was pretty much no other way for me to follow it. I don’t know if that was true in the US as well; some American friends were posting that the news networks were not giving the same information that Twitter was. I read a lot of tweets from people on the ground and then a lot of think pieces about why it was happening now and why it always had been happening—and I couldn’t look away. As far as using the news, I was hunched over my phone at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, believing that somehow my attention was critical to peace and justice. I have the same superstition about hurricanes: that if I do not wear my brain to a quivering nub with worry over something I cannot control, then that uncontrollable thing will be somehow even worse.
Disasters, natural or otherwise, have no need of me to go their own way, I know. I’m still following, so I know Ferguson is going along fine without me. Around the same time the #DirtyPolitics—New Zealand political scandal, for those of you in other countries and continents–book came out and I’ve been consumed by that as well; another hashtag to follow, another frown line between my eyebrows. I generally freak out around election time, no matter the hemisphere; a lot has changed since both the last times I voted, and I am now committed to the political system of the country in which I live, and correspondingly even more freaked out. I generally express this through anxiety-thumbing my phone, trying to read the latest article and divine the future.
Everyone knows that social media is a mirror in which we see mostly ourselves, and preach mostly to the converted—so of course I’ve been thinking about what I can do practically to enact the world I want to live in, one where Ministers of Justice don’t scheme the downfall of the civil servants who work for them, and where kids don’t get shot by police in broad daylight in the middle of the street. For a start.It’s not enough to psychically manifest or whatever the change you want to be: the children going to school with full bellies and shoes on their feet, the last fifty-five of a species saved, the poverty and ill health taken seriously. I have to vote, yes, and I have to advocate my beliefs to my MP and to my senators. I have to put my money where my mouth is and financially support the non-profits that see their funding wither away after each Budget. I have to think that the terror in Ferguson and the covert operations outlined in Dirty Politics is my problem and to act accordingly.
It feels a bit trite to write all this out, because it’s just so straightforward.