Does it ever feel to you that, to think or believe anything, even about the most mundane of things, is to find yourself on battleground of debate and contention?
This is social media.
Sometimes I start feeling defensive for–I think–no reason at all, and then retrace my mental steps, realizing that I’ve followed a trail of crumbs online–multiple articles, links, status posts–all leading me on, prompting me to take a side. Unintentionally, I realize, I’ve started comparing my feelings about any of the myriad topics against all of the others.
And maybe, then, I’ll regroup. Remind myself that everybody has an opinion, is entitled to one–but I’m not obliged to enter the fight. Or maybe I won’t.
We’re living in a moment. A time of BIG issues. Political, social, economic issues. I know there’s always been struggles. It’s the human story. But this particular moment in history is unique because the internet. This moment is characterized, much of the time, by filibustering. The loudest and most long-winded often win the day. Or it is characterized by money. Money is often a shortcut to influence–and not always in a Donald Trump kind of way. While nothing ever was–or ever will be black and white, we’re living in a moment of infinite gradations and the truth-statements queue up on a spectrum that extends almost infinitely in any direction you choose.
And so, in my lived experience of the 21st century, one of the most difficult things to overcome is a sense of anxiety about what to think and who to think it with, an anxiety about having answers and an assumption that I must make noise in order to secure legitimacy for my own beliefs. Legitimacy is valued more highly in our culture sometimes than authenticity. And, as an analytically minded person who loves an elegant, incontestable fact, ambiguity sometimes discomfits before it seduces me.
Daily, we have to make the choice to speak or not. But daily, at least for myself, whether I’m on a soapbox or am quiet, I have to choose authenticity (even if it leaves me with ambiguity for a season) before I choose the easy finality of a statement. Giving myself affirmation in this choice is important and giving myself the space for it is necessary.
Not having answers to all the hard questions is okay. In fact, as I hinted at already, ambiguity can be beautiful. Wrestling with liminal spaces, it turns out, puts one in in very good writerly company.
So play with it. Embrace the both/and’s rather than the either/or’s for awhile and see where it takes you. I say this to you, but I’m saying it to myself as well.
Let’s have an ambiguous adventure.