Hi. My name is Christopher, and I don’t know anything.
I’m here, because I’m concerned about my country. Well, I’m concerned about the world, but especially my country. We might not be on the verge of open revolution, or economic collapse, but there are enough signs to make it something worth thinking about. Even if it’s still an unrealistic scenario, nobody can deny there are some pretty unpleasant things afoot, and that are worth dealing with right now.
And for some time now, I’ve wondered what I can do. What can one person do to halt the slide of an entire country into civil war (if we’re unlucky), or economic collapse (if we’re slightly-less-unlucky)? How can one person contribute to making millions of lives more bearable?
I’ve come to realise two things. The first, is that something is better than nothing. The second, is that any event of magnitude is a sum of many smaller parts. We often attribute the change to some catalyst, when in fact the work was already 99% done. Good men do nothing, because they cannot envision a way in which to be the catalyst.
And so, I’ve decided to be one small part of the big picture by speaking. Or rather, by adding my voice to the chorus of voices in the “Social Media”. We may still occasionally picket-in-person, but online is so much more convenient. There’s always tea nearby.
At first, it was only my intention to challenge the fanatical voices on popular news sites. Too many fanatics to (all) be mere trolls, I felt that by questioning some of these views, or coming to the defence of those under attack, I could contribute my small part. “Hey guys,” I would say, “let’s all play nice…”
Then I thought that perhaps a firmer tone would be occasionally appropriate. Even a bit of tasteful sarcasm for those particularly asinine opinions. I could become active on my twitter account – throw a few words in the right direction on a platform with a slightly wider audience. I may still do some of that.
My wife suggested a blog. She has some really good ideas from time to time. It was something I’d vowed I’ve never be tempted to do. And here I am, and there’s a lesson in that.
But, instead of using this blog as a platform to preach, I think I might try and use it as a platform to listen. I’ll speak, too, because conversations need to start somewhere, but mostly I’ll use it as an opportunity to learn. In time, perhaps I’ll use my professional experience of putting data into context to contribute to the idea-space using what I learn.
It’s far from easy for me. Doing this is a huge step into the unknown.
(1) Maybe nobody will listen to me. There are millions of voices on the internet, mostly more interesting than mine. And the loudest, most fanatical voices generally get the most airtime. But on the bright side, if nobody listens, I’ll only have wasted some effort.
(2) I might be criticised. Actually, unless (1) proves false, this is a certainty. I will be criticised harshly, sometime unfairly. But on the bright side, since I am here to learn, every bit of criticism offers value, and teaches me something.
(3) There are smarter, more well-informed, and eloquent voices out there than mine, and I may not be able to offer an additional thing of value that hasn’t been said before. But on the bright side, my voice may at the very least add weight to theirs.
(4) I don’t know what I’m doing. Normally, I have plans A through D down before I make the first move, so with this I am so far out of my comfort zone I’m basically friend-zoning myself. Which brings me to…
(5) I might humiliate myself. Like (2), except that even good ideas attract criticism. But I might just be a total dumbass. Put my foot in it, and be totally guilty. On the bright side, I can work on my apology skills.
(6) I might not be able to see it through. It might be a lot of work. On the bright side, better to have tried and failed and all that…
I don’t know where this will go. I’ll find out. Maybe I’ll fade out. Maybe I’ll be one of a (ten) million voices who change the direction this country is headed. Maybe (and I only mention it for the sake of completeness) I’ll be the catalyst. Maybe I will learn something. Maybe I’ll teach someone something. Maybe I’ll inspire someone who would otherwise, as I was, sit and do nothing for fear of not being able to do anything.
My title – I don’t know anything – comes to me after just a short while in the twitterspace, where I was overwhelmed by opinions from people far more knowledgeable than I. So speak to me. Tell me how I’m wrong (or not quite right enough). Tell me I’m an idiot, if it makes you feel better. I might hunt you down and force you to tell me why, but go ahead. Tell me what I should read. Tell me who I should speak to. Tell me what matters to you. Tell me anything. (You know, or ignore me.)
And I’ll leave you with this thought. Fatalism is futile. At least go down fighting.