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This is how it's always been
And the other infuriating reasons why change is difficult
This is how it’s always been.
How often do you hear this as a justification for something that doesn’t make sense to you?
Even in my short three decades on this planet, we have witnessed significant social change. As a result, things aren’t exactly the same as they used to be. Even so, there’s still a lot of change required to improve the lives of those who need it most.
This newsletter comes after hearing some very outdated opinions that bordered on homophobic, many of which were things I’d just assumed were dead and buried. Outside of my own echo chamber, and likely yours too, there are still some outdated opinions that are absolutely out there… some are even spreading!
But why is it the case that just because something ‘used’ to be acceptable, it has to continue that way or even persist?
This is how it’s always been.
Navigating opinions online vs. IRL
If the last couple of years has taught me anything, it’s that I live in an echo chamber.
I follow and chat with people online who mostly share my views and my IRL friends are all on a similar wavelength to me with regard to social and political issues. Going further, I’d also say many of us (me included) actively filter this echo chamber by unfollowing/unfriending/blocking opinions or views we find distasteful or upsetting.
While I don’t recommend going out and befriending a neo-nazi, or giving the likes of Kirsty Allsopp the time of day, I do wonder if we are doing more harm than good by cutting ourselves off from opposing views.
However, the idea of grabbing a pint with someone who refutes the legitimacy of trans rights or believes COVID is a lab-born conspiracy doesn’t really appeal to me right now.
Bearing in mind, I write this less than 24 hours after the UK government announced an end to COVID isolation rules in England, and Russia is on the brink of sparking WWIII… I think we can all agree that chaos is the new normality. And making peace with our views, and the views of others, is harder than ever.
COVID brought with it a “when-this-is-all-over” rhetoric that allows us to dream about a post-pandemic world that is largely unattainable. Whether we can ever overcome the impact of a virus that killed millions and halted the global economy isn’t the issue. It’s about whether we can ever expect things to go back to how they used to be. Personally, I don’t think they will… and this has massively affected the national (and international) psyche.
The new normal
So while ‘the new normal’ is a phrase often bandied around with ‘living with COVID’ and other benign politicised slogans, there are still so many ways in which things are staying the same (or getting worse) without good reason.
This is how it’s always been.
Just because something has always been a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it won’t - or shouldn’t - change.
Imagine if Twitter existed in Emily Pankhurst’s time or when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in 1955. Events that are now seen as social and civil victories would have been divisive, chaotic and even dangerous for some to live through.
Late last year, I wrote about how it feels like we’re living in the worst of times but, in reality, we are simply more exposed to the bad stuff because of the constant connectedness that social media and the internet bring. In the same vein, you simply cannot avoid the numerous injustices facing people all over the world… even if you do live in a digital echo chamber.
I often find that I am more resilient to comments online, such as Facebook arguments about whether trans people should be allowed to use gendered bathrooms or how much it’s acceptable for MPs to expense. But when these debates occur in person, I’m a little shook.
It’s probably because we’ve spent the last two years in front of screens, socialising in very small groups and only seeing the people face-to-face that we really want to hang out with. As a result, I am often taken aback when someone, often an older family member or friend of the family, reveals that they don’t share my views on race, trans rights, feminism, animal rights or any other topic I am passionate about.
Speaking to people with differing views is important, as it helps to shape your own perspective and also gives them the opportunity to see something from another angle. However, if you’re anything like me then you might find it hard not to get emotional about certain topics - which doesn’t always land in your favour.
We’re not the first generation to disagree with our elders, and we’ll certainly not be the last. I’m sure Gen Z and the following generation, Gen Alpha, will bring with them concepts and ideas that baffle even the most forward-thinking liberals. What we can do is keep an open mind, let people finish and take a deep breath. If you find yourself asking but why is it that way? and the response is this is how it’s always been then you know that it may never have occurred to them that change is not only possible, but probably a good idea.
Asking the Twittersphere
I asked people on Twitter for examples of topics that often spark: “this is how it’s always been” and, as you’ll see, the responses vary widely.
How do you feel about the state of things? If all this *gestures* is getting you down, pop along to Twitter for a chat @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email to say hello in my inbox! 👋
Holy smokes, this book is good. I’m already well on my way through the second book in this incredible and unique series. I don’t want to give much away, but if you like sci-fi, fantasy, unique world-building and interesting characters then this one’s for you.
Another corker, Boiling Point is a 90-minute panic attack filmed in a single take! It’s set in a busy London kitchen starring the formidable Stephen Graham. I highly, highly recommend giving this a go, if you’re anything like us then you won’t be able to look away.
One of our favourite books has finally been adapted into a TV show and, surprisingly, it’s rather good. Station Eleven is a beautifully written novel by Emily St John Mandel and tells the story of a pandemic from the point of view of characters. Even though it was written before the COVID-19 pandemic, it gives a unique perspective of humanity. I do recommend giving the book a read first if you can.
That’s all from me this week. See you next Wednesday for more of the same.
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
16 February: You can only do your best
26 January: The way to a person’s heart
19 January: How do you work?
12 January: Being a morning person is overrated
5 January: Treading lightly into 2022
15 December: How do you compare?
8 December: Lessons on mental health from Henry Cavill
1st December: Give the gift of rest this Christmas
24 November: Who are you?
17 November: Christmas comes early