it’s not your story

You might assume your food comes from the sky before it arrives at Walmart because it’s in-store every morning.

You might assume the right to speech online because we’ve all been given a mega(i)Phone.

We believe ourselves the center of some grand story because we’ve never read another’s. This is a spiritual pitfall in a digital age.

With agrarian society’s end, we lost touch with food’s source.

Processed food, GMO’s, additives and substitutes. These rob nature of her privilege of provision. Favor Delivery, DoorDash, and online shopping further divorce us from the origins of our daily sustenance.

Regardless of creator’s intent or context, we’re adamant “freedom of speech” is a built-in feature to our identity and we ignore its misuse and abuse in online spaces (…and in offline spaces: the sale of “F— Biden” flags in parts of the south should cause deep sadness for all at the state of our political polarization and gross mistreatment of the privilege to speak our minds).

Only in May of 2021 did Twitter add a prompt to users to reconsider “potentially harmful or offensive language” in tweets or comments (I won’t even criticize the fact that this prompt only appears for explicit language and not more subtly crafted disinformation or slander, and ask, why did this take so long? 15 years of hate-speech and cruelty too late).

Twitter’s lead, “what’s happening“, fails to advise you of your tweet’s public immortality. It reinforces a solitary and selfish story-telling paradigm.

This (among a devolution of too many of our cognitive abilities thanks to social media) is a reason for the slow dying of books and reading in America. We no longer believe someone else’s story to be relevant to us. Now, it’s paramount that my story/post/tweet is heard by my followers (a term historically attributed to followers of religious figures who truly are central to a people’s story).

An intriguing trend in our cultural moment is the ‘everyman’ as a frequent protagonist. Filmmakers in the mainstream desire to create a hero the viewer can relate to or see in themselves.

This is not the purpose of a story.

A story (especially, an origin) tells another human’s struggles. No clichés.
It doesn’t put you in their shoes- it reminds you their feet are a different size. No hand-holding. It gives you the raw, unfiltered version.

We need to be constantly reminded that our story is not whole.

Plant a garden. Engage history to learn the origin of free speech. Read someone else’s story (not on Instagram Stories… because it has to be said).

What did you notice today? ///

Author: Ben Fridge

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