‘We have never been so connected, yet feel so disconnected’.

It is a quote that has been repeating in my head every day since I heard it. And it couldn’t be more true. At least in the city I currently call home, London. This was the scene a few days back when a right-wing protester found himself over no mans land and into what he considers enemy territory.

blmprotest

The man carrying him, Patrick Hutchinson, noticed that he was in serious trouble and hurt, and carried him to police. He didn’t want to add fuel to the fire of the far right group and give an excuse for them to protest further. I am sure the white man respects this move, even if reluctantly so. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and I am sure this moment will be remembered by both.

We humans don’t give conversation a chance all too often. The chances are if we disagree on something, we walk a very thin tightrope of discourse. We are emotional beings and show our emotion very easily. And the other person reads this emotion and bam, gets emotional as a result. A snowballing of emotions and a lack of willingness to listen kicks in, and before we know it our aim isn’t to understand the opposition, but to defend our position. A shouting contest. An ego trip. Sometimes, violence. We see this everywhere, from the streets to our parliamentary debates. If our leaders are susceptible to losing composure and even the odd fistfight, what standard are we expected to live by?

george-pagan-iii-f-PH16nZHKI-unsplash

I am not sure if social media has ruined conversation, but it isn’t promoting it. Everything about a post is designed to boost our ego. There is a reason we are unable to dislike a Facebook status…. who is going to dislike it? We surround ourselves with people that think like us and if someone was to keep disliking our posts? Delete. Goodbye, friend.

Who needs that kind of negativity anyway? Not me.

But it is pretty vital. The more we surround ourselves with like minded people the less prepared we are socially for disagreement. At the same time, trolls and the very nature of being behind a username means we can be even more cruel to those that disagree with us. So now we are being more harsh than usual to a group we hardly engage with anyway… so if these groups find a day to meet in the street, why would we expect anything less than violence?

Saying that, most protests have been peaceful. However unfortunately as I type this, news is breaking that three people have been stabbed to death in a park in Reading, UK. More people have been injured in the incident. Living in an online world, word got out fast. And with that, assumptions were made fast. Especially with it taking place in a park hours after a BLM protest took place.

And this to me showed how much of a mess we are in.

-Racists blaming black people for the attack.

-Black people worried that right wing protesters carried it out.

-Media breaking news with ‘Stabbing at Black Lives Matter protest’ despite the earlier protest being peaceful and already finished

-Tweets from angry white people believing this headline is assuming white people went to carry out an attack without waiting for more information

-Tweets from angry black people feeling this headline suggests BLM protesters turned violent

I also read a tweet from a black Twitter user accusing the BBC of racism for the ‘Stabbing at BLM protest’ headline, despite the journalist in the article being black himself, and possibly worried that this ‘stabbing at BLM protest’ may have been carried out by a white protester.

The thing is, when we feel our beliefs are being targeted, any headline can seem like it is against us. ‘Stabbing at BLM Protest’ can sound both pro-BLM or anti-BLM. The perspective that hits us the hardest is the one we tend to stick with.

I refreshed the article as the evening went on (Saturday, 20th June, yesterday when this post is published), to see the headline edited from ‘Stabbing at BLM protest’ to ‘Stabbing at BLM protest site’ to ‘Reading stabbing attack.’ However those initial few hours of very little information had some people incredibly convinced they knew exactly what happened, by who and why. We can’t even wait for the information to come out before we need to tell everyone how we feel, and this is worrying in a world that seems more unstable as the months go by. We need conversation more than ever.

Protests aren’t conversation. They might be good at making governments act when tensions are highest, but the opposition in the general population aren’t really affected. Not in an educational sense at least.

Lets picture an angry mob of fifty white men, all in their 20’s-60’s marching down the street to confront BLM protesters, as seen recently in British cities. Do we really think the guy three rows from the front is reading the ‘No to Racism!‘ sign 50 meters away behind a line of police and a cloud of tear gas… with an aim of being educated? Are they really listening to the protesters as they try to drown out the chants with football songs that they haven’t been able to sing in the past few months without football? Maybe one or two protesters, if I am being optimistic. Away from a protest being used as an uprising against a government (which can be effective and caused the Minneapolis City Council to consider dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department), it is merely a shouting contest to boost ones ego. I cannot imagine too many people on both sides of a protest going home feeling they have learned something new like it was a walk to a college lecture. And not much changes when we go home and online to give further thoughts on how we feel.

Instagram Stories. Facebook Statuses. Twitter comments. They are all methods we use to tell everyone how we feel, and what’s right. They are all ways for us to tell everyone we are right, and that you should listen. And it isn’t working. The less time spent having conversation is more time the gap between the left and right has to widen. The differences become bigger. The hatred becomes more fierce. And the internet is not helping.

We need a way to promote conversation and be willing to engage with the opposition without being seen as the opposition. Sticking with our tribe is great for strength in numbers, but terrible for education. Being in a group of like minded individuals, what do we learn? Absolutely nothing. As a leftist (that is becoming ever more frustrated with the supposed left) we should be wanting to engage with those that have a difference of opinion if we are to find some common ground to build on. Understand the reasoning behind thoughts, engaging in conversation and educating. But I am seeing it less and less, the right and the left are becoming harder to differentiate.

The right needs to stop using violence as communication, and the left needs to have more patience in conversation.

That’s my thoughts on what is going on right now, and I would love to hear how you agree or disagree on this.

 

 

Featured Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

28 thoughts

  1. A bit over-simplified, but I still agree. Violence is a tool on the extremes of both sides. Antifa is considered left-wing for example. Personally I think they’re just anarchists and don’t care about politics.

    I applaud Patrick Hutchinson for taking the higher ground and doing the morally correct thing also. That took incredible strength of character.

    You’re correct that we need more communication and trying to understand the other side. I did a long blog post myself saying the same thing. Both sides also have to stop letting the most shrill voices among them have any ground, and ignore the media that’s determined to see riots for the sake of ratings.

    1. I understand, it wasn’t very thorough I admit, especially with so much going on. I just see everyday how conversation is failing us and it’s a little scary to see what will be the repercussions. And the media aren’t helping at all!

      I will read your post, thank you for your thoughts here πŸ™‚ they are much appreciated.

  2. I like how well thought out this is and think you could publish it on Medium or some broader place. I’m not so certain violence is relegated to one political side though. De-escalation globally feels like a beautiful goal…. Aside from US’s gun problem, meaning the stabbing event as tragic as it was would impact more in US due to weapon, there is a current undercurrent of methods of violence from a time we thought was behind us. Hangings, for example in US not getting much media….a healer/researcher with a UK program in Guatemala burned alive by his own village due to fear of being a witch. These things are surfacing for us now for truth and reconciliation of past echoes so that we can move forward with some sense of solidarity as humans. So easy to forget we’re all headed to the same place….. while we’re here, we can try our best to contribute to each other in whatever way we’re able. Conversation is one way to let go of jumping to conclusions and fear. Ever since June started, the words “nothing is as it seems” has been running through my mind as a reminder of your point to be slower to judge a person or event until more info is gleaned.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting, I don’t know much about the platform Medium, but will have to take a look. Thanks for that. And after I posted you reminded me that violence is seen across the board, and I guess that’s why I said that telling the left from the right is hard to do at times. It is horrific to hear of the killings you mention, this needs to stop too.

      The longer we take to judge someone, the more time we have to understand their perspective. Thank you so much for the comments!

  3. Your basic sentiment is true here, and I applaud that, but in this country it is not the RIGHT using violence(why in the world would you say that??), it’s the LEFT. Not sure what on earth you got THAT or maybe it’s different than in the US. The cop who killed the black CRIMINAL, (let’s at least not forget that, though there was no excuse for what he did), may or may not have been on the RIGHT. Who knows his political affiliation. I don’t. There are racists on both sides. It was the Republican party, the RIGHT in this country who actually fought for and secured abolition. Lincoln was a Republican and the southern Democrats were racists. So you make some pretty amazing assumptions there. Of course, I am not familiar with all going on there in the UK. Today, the left threw the statue of Ulysses S. Grant into the bay in San Francisco, a man who fought to free slaves and opposed the KKK. They have burned black business owners out and killed black policemen, all left protestors. And taken over Seattle. Now explain that. Washington and Jefferson were changing, freeing slaves and John Adams (my ancestral cousin) never owned them, was vocal the entire time, tutored black people and paid them a wage if they worked for them. He couldn’t get it handled in that time frame, but he tried. So our founding fathers were already trying to change things.

    Slavery did not start in the US like they claim and was not practiced only by white people like they claim. My very good black writer friend would not call us a “racist” country. Though we have racists here. There were quite a few statements in your post you should look at more closely. But I agree that facebook is a nightmare — I am no longer on it. That is no place to engage. It is awful and divisive. And conversation is essential, but here the left silences anyone who disagrees with them on anything, forbidding conservative speakers in colleges, in fact rioting and trying to attack them, and insisting on “safe spaces” where precious children never have to hear an opinion they disagree with. What? Universities are places of debate free expression of ideas and as an adjunct professor I would never want to silence the left. But you can’t have conversations with them anymore. They won’t engage. It’s a sad situation. We do not intend for our entire history to be erased by these people nor do we plan to stand by and watch them ruin the country. And why is it that every single big city is run by Democrats –every one of these disasters — not by Republicans.. If they have all the answers and they are in charge there why is that happening? I love how they make messes of things and get away with blaming the right. I am a libertarian, so I’m a social liberal (mostly) and a fiscal conservative. So even though I’ve always been sympathetic to some of the left social ideas, I cannot abide the tactics they are using and I’m no socialist.

    1. I agree the left an be violent too. And I don’t necessarily agree with cancel culture… I feel telling people to shut up doesn’t help the opposition gain an understanding of why someone came to have a certain opinion. It is just sweeping it under the rug.

      I am not focusing on skin colour or political beliefs here, just the inability for us to have conversation and how this can make the situation much worse. So I thank you for your opinions and I appreciate being able to talk to you on this.

    1. Thank you for reading and providing your thoughts, I really appreciate it. FB can be the worst! I hardly use it now, only to speak with family really.

  4. I agree, and that’s why we have WP πŸ™‚ You can’t really talk in the Instagram or on Facebook, but you can very well do it here. I even broke my own promise to myself a couple of days ago, and went back to the Russian blogosphere to talk about racism (because my compatriots are the worst racists in the US).

    1. Cheers Hettie for commenting, I think blogging is a much better platform for thoughts, FB and Insta are better for food and travel pics haha! How is the Russian blogosphere compared to the Western equivalent right now?

      1. I want to say, that I do not know :), but unfortunately I know. Regarding all the recent world event, including the virus and BML, the overwhelming majority is very conservative and very racist. Unfortunately, even those bloggers who are regarded as liberal, say all this conservative nonsense about “those who choose not to work and live off welfare,” and about “but they really commit more crimes.” Do not even want to repeat. My only attempt to explain the situation (and my followers there are very liberal-minded and understanding) produced mixed results, and at the very end a person whom I knew for 15+ years produce pages of extremely racists comments. Overall, I do not regret I left “runet.”

      2. I feel that many people are being swayed one way or another, or being labeled as one or the other, and now it seems people who disagree with us are further from us than we thought. I am seeing it myself with friends too, opinions are getting stronger, and compassion shrinking. I just hope there is a way out of it.

    1. Thank you Deanna! I am pleased you share a similar mindset, and I appreciate your thoughts here πŸ™‚ I hope you have a great week.

    1. It is a difficult topic, however I feel it is a weight off my shoulders to give my thoughts instead of bottling them up. Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate it πŸ™‚

  5. Agreed – there needs to be more open conversation, which also brings the need for improvement in truly listening. People seem to have lost this art. Listening, paying attention to what is being said, and understanding the context of the conversation all takes time. People just don’t take the time needed. A little less of the “All about me” focus would be nice too. πŸ™‚

    1. Context is a big thing too as you say, understanding it and taking time to listen to a whole conversation. ‘All about me’ is the in thing right now!! Very sad, when it should be ‘all about us’. Sorry for how cheesey that sounds πŸ˜€

Leave a Reply