Sitting down to enjoy an aperitif of cognac Hennessey VSOP I open my laptop. To be honest, it’s an unpopular opinion to sip on the drink to sooth the twist of my Hiatus Hernia, but I’ve become accustomed to the ritual, knowing it’ll help the nagging throb. For me, it’s a sickly feeling of nausea that launches upwards with a pressured tightness in my throat. Stress and anxiety have a way of manifesting itself in my body, so I open the live feed to NASA’s space station to relax. The world looks majestic on my screen, and as I watch the flashes of thunder and clouds over continents, I can’t help but think how strange human natures’ complexity is. When you’re absorbed in a predicament, it’s good to view the bigger picture, and while you find yourself looking down from that live feed, if you’re really lucky, you might catch sight of an astronaut working on the space station itself.
We used to be simple hunters and foragers, living in groups and tribes and fighting to survive. But now, our bravery is exuded behind a computer screen and through the voice of our beliefs. The demands of our world are far more complex and specific, but in the face of separation and distance, it’s our connection that we just can’t seem to figure out.
Taking a moment to check twitter, it became obvious that I had missed another conflict on the social justice feed. Each exchange was accentuated by the necessity to be heard beyond listening, each depiction of opinions highlighted their triggering, and in the perpetuation and of intimate trauma, each voice seemingly spoke beyond the awareness of initiating discord on their screens. And yet, we live in a world where we are so concerned about our suffering while ceasing to create any kind of peace. In the debate of oneness, we hide behind social media so ludicrously that focusses attention on the importance of being so unique. Its burdensome and antiquated, and perhaps the reason why we feel the need to be so fervent in our speech. Andy Warhol said we each get 15 mins of fame, and perhaps that’s true, but now we get 280 characters to have your say.
People try their darndest to create upheaval. We find ourselves continuously set to compare notes and debate relevance instead of celebrating unity. I read the words perplexed, bemoaning my self-restraint, knowing my engagement would produce a death rattle of impending regret. I shift to simply read the confabulated posturing, spiralling in verbose judgment and distain, and know the cesspool of pettiness would simply gather momentum. I couldn’t help but notice, the underlying purpose of oneness, pushed towards conflict more than resolution. Are you too gritty, too woke, too sensitive, or do you simply not care?
You could say it’s exhausting; you could say it’s a specific generations fault. You could say, we are all so concerned about being triggered that we forget our virtue signalling is in fact another way to trigger someone else. We live in a world where we have to be both brazen behind a keyboard to set the world straight but have to tread lightly on eggshells to ensure we don’t offend or get ourselves hurt. And yet, through our outrage, through those moments of unhealthy and illogical debate, we trigger someone else, we create further separation and discord, and we just can’t seem to figure out how to be heard and leave unhurt.
We live in a world where everything from police brutality to an unwrapped peanut is trying to kill us, yet we find ourselves incapable of surviving a conversation, or debate without becoming enraged or confounded. The real world is traumatic, our nature is to fight, flight, or freeze, and yet, we attempt to bypass the very core of our biological responses by typing on a keyboard and sparking conflict around our triggering and beliefs. Our ancestors embraced the struggle of the world, simply so they could get food, yet we cannot survive a comment, conflict or even a simple tweet.
And as I sit to watch the earth and space, and think about defeat, I wonder if the astronaut is able to see the virtue signals from space. And just as I sip away and my gentile snowflake sensitivities in my stomach, I wonder about popular opinions, and wonder about real fights, combats and encounters, and hope to hell that astronaut throws a wrench into the satellite stopping me for composing my very own tweet.
Because just as opinions are like assholes, unpopular opinions are few and far between.
How to sharpen your tongue
- Add opinionated sensitivities
- Mix strangers on the internet
- Remove empathy and perspective
- Stir in privilege
- Drink down your keyboard bravery
Amy-Jean Muller is an artist, writer and poet from South Africa who lives and works in London. She explores topics such as culture, memory, identity, and sexuality. She aims to create a snapshot of experience and narrative with a non-traditional approach. She also likes whiskey, afternoon naps and nihilistic musings.