Thoughts about Writing Stuff that Upsets People

Sometimes I think about my blog in general terms. You know the kind of thing. Should I have a plan? What am I doing? Should I steer clear of this or that topic? etc.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot in terms of recent political events and the fact that I am becoming more open about my views and my blog is reflecting that.

A friend said on social media recently that she didn’t think that social media was the place for politics.

It made me think about what she had said. It was interesting. I wasn’t offended. I just started to think about it. What I have to say now is not about her. It’s about what she said kicking off a train of thought that I followed.

I have also been thinking about it in terms of having been to Mumsnet Blogfest  a few weeks ago, sitting in on a talk about how grass roots activism can or might affect issues at a national level.

There were some good points. The general consensus seemed to be that if you want to do something you have to be very focussed about what it is that you actually want to do, and you have to target how you want to do it and who you want to help you achieve it. If you just want to moan, or ‘raise awareness’, this is not good enough.

I am a moaner. I am an awareness raiser.  I am one of those people with undirected focus. I am an ‘outraged of Knighton’ type of writer, I realise. I do things too, what I can, where I can, but the things I am outraged about outstrip my ability to change them by about 1000 to 1.

So then. Why do I write these things? Why do I Tweet and ReTweet things? Why do I write to my MP?

What is the point?

When I didn’t vote and people harangued me for it, they told me that my opinion didn’t count if I didn’t vote. I said it didn’t count anyway. They said ‘you don’t know that.’ So I voted in this election. Now apparently I have the right to have an opinion. I count now, where I didn’t before.

You know what? I can’t see the difference.

It doesn’t count, because of all of the above, and all the things I’ve said before about the fact that we do not live in a democracy and our voting and representational system does not reflect the views of the people. This is becoming increasingly clear with every day that passes under this government.

So what, then?

My voice without a vote doesn’t count.

My voice with a vote doesn’t count.

I mustn’t write to my MP without a specific point, because I can’t expect him or her to want to hear me, or represent me, or communicate with me unless I want something specific, because they are far too busy.

I mustn’t inflict my views on people on social media because of the British tradition of not talking about sex, or politics or religion, because it’s in bad taste, and people who might not agree with me might be offended.

I mustn’t put my views on anything, anywhere if I can’t DO anything about it, because that makes me a moaner.

Well. That’s an effective way of disenfranchising the enfranchised isn’t it?

So do we just exist hopelessly  in a perpetual state of fear at offending someone who might matter more than we matter? Why do we think our voices don’t matter? Why do we take pride in living in a ‘democracy’, and then go round telling everyone to shut up? We might as well live under a dictatorship, then. Why do we allow people to tell us we are worthless and that we cannot change anything? Why do we believe them? If it was true, they wouldn’t have to keep telling us, keep shouting at us, keep squashing us, would they?

Do we accept the general consensus these days that people like me, the morally outraged, are banging the drum for the ‘I am better than you’ party so we can feel morally superior to everyone else?

I gotta tell you, that’s not working for me. I don’t feel morally superior to anyone except possibly Donald Trump and Charles Manson. Mostly I feel fairly helpless and quite a lot hopeless and frankly so horrified by everything that my stuff feels more like the blurtings of a politically switched on Tourettes sufferer. I just can’t help myself.

Do we just do the same old, same old, fence sitting?  We don’t like to make a fuss. We just have to get on with it. We can’t change it. We just have to live with the hand we’re dealt?

Do we just wait for someone older than us, wiser than us, more powerful than us, to fix things?

That’s what we’ve been doing.

How’s it working out for you?

Donald Trump is turning America into the next fascist empire with the help of his Republican cronies. Cameron is bleeding us dry in the UK with no money for benefits but enough to bomb the living shit out of Syria, and Jeremy Hunt is dismantling the NHS faster than an NRA lobbyist can take apart a hunting rifle. Thank God the future is in their hands and not in ours.

Right?

Here’s why I write.

I write because I am angry. I need to put that anger somewhere so that it doesn’t fester inside me, and here is as good a place as any to put it. I am so fucking angry at the short term greed that negates any hope of a long term future for my children.

I want my children to grow old and have beautiful children of their own and live here in joy. The more the world turns, the less likely a prospect that becomes, frankly. It makes me weep that this is what I am leaving them. I want to say sorry. I can do it this way, by showing that I am doing my best not to collude in this. I want to show them I cared enough not to keep my mouth shut and my head down. I want to show them I was brave, because they’re going to need to be way, way braver than I’m ever going to be if things carry on like this.

I write, and tweet and retweet, because I hope that if one person, one time, reads something I’ve sent their way and changes their mind about something, I have helped to make the world a little bit of a better place, even if only for a minute.

I do it, because that’s what happens to me. I read and I think and I act, and sometimes my action leads to something good. Other people can do that. You can do that. If we all do that, life would be different.

I do it, because regardless of what people say, and how they sneer about words, words ARE powerful. Otherwise people wouldn’t spend so much time trying to shut other people up and stop them from using them.

I write because surely, if enough people write to their MP, eventually they might have to listen? If nothing else, it’s pissing him off that I am regularly plopping into his e-mail in box. It’s small comfort, but I take what I can.

I sign petitions because if enough people sign petitions, eventually someone might debate something I care about and not filibuster the shit out of it.

I sign petitions because I think the more that people sign, the more parliament have to at least think about them. It registers disapproval in a much more effective way than ticking a ballot paper.

I sign petitions because it is so easy, and so many people do it that I hope that eventually the whole parliamentary system will grind to a halt and people will have to actually stop for a minute, and maybe change stuff, and maybe talk about things that are important and that matter.

I write because I read so many newspaper articles with comments by utter, fucking, full on lunatics who have all the time in the world to spew forth vitriol and bile and hate, and maybe, just maybe something I say, something I write, might do a little, tiny bit to dilute that.

I write because it is my voice, and I want to be heard, and I want people to know what I think and feel, and understand about the things I care about. I am tired of making small talk.  I am tired of the facade. I am tired of the thought that you might like me, but only on a surface level, because God forbid we should talk about anything that matters. I love a good natter, a laugh and a gossip as much as the next person, but it has to have something underneath it holding it up, and I want you to see all of it, not just the veneer.

If you don’t want to know, don’t read, don’t friend, don’t participate, but don’t try to silence my voice because it makes you uncomfortable. That discomfort isn’t mine. It’s yours, and it’s telling you something. Maybe it’s telling you that I’m not the person you thought I was. I can live with that. Maybe it’s telling you something else. Only you can figure it out, but I’m not going to stop.

 

I can’t.

Because if I stop, I will cry and cry and keep on crying and never go out again, because frankly the world is one big, hideous car crash at the moment and it depresses the living fuck out of me, but we have to go on and we have to have hope, and I write because I have hope that it can be different and that things can change.

10 responses to “Thoughts about Writing Stuff that Upsets People

  1. Very nicely said. Come to think of it, the approach that any action must be justified by a certain outcome is not only unrealistic and demoralizing, but smacks of the same sort of joyless focus on “productivity” that you see in the work or academic worlds. It’s the same kind of thinking that places no value on studying art or literature because what money will they make you?

    I too have hope at the same time that I am deeply depressed and despairing. And I too believe that it’s incumbent on us to speak out regardless of whether we do it “right” or place it in the “right” forum.

  2. Your writing is eloquent and articulate and mirrors my thoughts and I’m not able to put those thoughts down on paper as you do……but the fabulous music from the best bit of the Sopranos was going through my head as I read it…..’Don’t stop believing..’ and we must try to do just that.

  3. Spot on! Don’t stop writing. Things can change, and it’s up to each and every one of us to be the change. Sometimes we need someone to take the lead, to say the things we’re thinking but don’t know how to say or are ‘scared’ to say for fear of upsetting someone.

    Great blog, thank you 🙂

  4. I personally think you should go into politics and seriously kick some arse.

  5. Your friend is wrong, wrong, wrong! Social media is exactly the place to discuss politics! Please keep doing it, you are making a difference just by adding weight to the volume of opinion.
    If your mate wants to do nothing but share pics of dinner, her cats, her kids, then I feel sorry for her.

  6. First of all, please let me congratulate you on having voted. Really, I’d actually been thinking of writing to you about this, was only kept from it by a deepfelt fear of becoming the kind of person who writes strange letters to the local paper. Secondly, I agree with you – we don’t have the kind of democracy that we should have (although I live in Germany, but I imagine it’s not that much different from the UK in that respect). But thirdly, please take about 30 seconds to look at Poland. They now have a government that all of the nice, kind, intelligent, tolerant, caring, openminded Polish people that I personally know are horrified by. A government that was voted in by about 18% of the voters. Why? Because all of these nice etc, etc. people did not bother to vote. I know this. Because I asked them.
    So, please keep on writing about politics, by all means, but please-please-please keep voting as well.

  7. Wonderfully said. My MP is sick to death of getting emails from me!

  8. watchingthewheels

    I have a copy of Martin Neimoller’s poem on my wall which forever reminds me to speak out loud and proud whatever the consequences and I know you will know it. –

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  9. most excellent perspective.

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