DIGITAL,  WELLBEING

To the privileged man

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter to express some of the thoughts and feelings preoccupying me recently. Hear me out.

I have spent three years away from my blog, but now I am back, and I have a few things to say. Initially, I assumed I stopped writing because I was scared – you did a pretty good job; you almost made me think I had reasons to be worried.

However, I went away and did my homework.

Here’s what books, podcasts and the wise men and women told me: as humankind, we are doing better than ever. We are healthier. We are smarter. We live longer. We still have work to do: we need to tackle climate change, poverty, outdated education and the growing gap between you and me. But generally speaking, we are so much better off than the generations before us.

The gap between your and my story is indeed growing. I have spent years putting up with your version of events, and I start to wonder: why? Why do you want me to feel so sad and so scared?

And more importantly: what did you achieve to deserve my attention?

You were there in my early years educating my parents on how not to live happily. You gave them homes and jobs. You placed women in the kitchen and men in factories, especially the intellectuals – to make them feel more humble and more crushed. You convinced us all that the binary way of thinking is the only way forward – before the computers entered our homes, actually. You convinced our grandparents that hugging children is damaging, so our parents grew up without much empathy. They got on with their lives. They raised us to get on with ours too. However, they managed to raise us with a robust system of values – one we could at least confront and rage against, but one that provided a starting point. They shared the ancient wisdom with us, but you probably thought they had forgotten it. They did not. They shared it with us as a bedtime story when you weren’t listening. And this we grew wiser and stronger than the generation before us.

So you got a bit worried.

Once again, you wrote our history and thus took away our right to speak our truth and write our stories. At the same time, some of our fathers got tired of hardship and walked out of their factories. Our mothers walked out of their kitchens. And so the walls came down falling. We marched over those walls to greet our friends and our enemies. We all met somewhere in the middle, on the bridge. We all realised that we are made of the same clay – gentle, beautiful and stronger than ever before. We got down to our knees; we worked hard and raised a new world. We allowed you to stay but added new powers (media and courts) to keep your story in check. We called it democracy.

But this made you feel a bit uneasy.

Your story was based on the exploitation of our differences – you forgot to mention that this defines war. While the war was profitable to you, peace was ever so cheap and dull. It allowed us time to think and question your moves.

Our new liberties were a bit much for you to cope with, so you decided to get back to your old story by getting us distracted. You have us what we wanted on the surface. You fed us the freedom to choose between a wide range of ketchup bottles, other goods and affordable loans. You asked us to enjoy the comfort of the new, mindless living while claiming back our newly gained rights to speak our truth freely. One by one, you chipped away those rights claiming that your story and your story alone would keep us safe from the enemy of the date, from each other and ourselves.

Like the ancient founding fathers of nations, you positioned yourself as the one who knows better what’s truly good for us.

You also reminded us that the world is vast, each of us is our own enemy, and we are all eternally alone. We believed you at first. And so most of us gave up the new liberties happily. You placed the default parental controls on our phones and started limiting our access to the free stories online. It worked. For a while, we did have the impression of safety. Men did not have to commute so much, so they also joined the process of parenthood. Women became most successful in the new business world and went back to their kitchens with laptops to build new companies – from their own choice. We had a modern, democratic Europe and so much to see, to do, to buy. We had access to so much online. We did not think about preserving our right to open access to it all. We could afford more, fly on cheap flights to tropical destinations and party until the sunrise. Life seemed so comfortable.

You got worried again.

It was getting out of your hands, messing with your story. So you started telling us that we are not good enough. You introduced the algorithms to separate us into smaller and smaller boxes. You made us feel powerless in our own stories just to promote your own. You weakened our education and national health services, so we grew weak, indeed. You offered us free resilience classes, self-care myth and told is to get on with life. That conflict caused even more pain and divide – but that was your plan.

For a while, we listened quietly. We stopped bothering our doctors and shopped more for magic potions in our fantastic shopping malls instead. We followed the new influencers and switched to better broadband for better, seamless streaming of Netflix. Hours of it. We set up our startups. We did not even have to leave our homes anymore.

You were so pleased to discover that we stopped going out collectively. It’s so much “safer” this way – for you and us. You can do whatever you want. Everyone sat quietly in their own little safety box. No questions asked.

You got worried again.

The systems you put in place were crumbling, and people started waking up to the truth of your intentions. People were rising like dust. More powerful and influential than ever before. We started noticing the gaps in funding, the increasing poverty and homelessness, the lack of quality education for all. So you needed to blame someone, and the EU became a good target. It worked, but not entirely. With smart use of online technologies, you have converted some unconvinced individuals to support your cause, and you took it from there.

But this time we have noticed you. While you thought we would sleep through your next move, we have learned to get involved in the area you reserved for yourself – the political process. And so here we are today. This week is probably not the end of it, but more and more of us are waking up. It’s just a question of time. More and more of us are rising.

As for me, well, I had enough of your voice, so I went away. I sat quietly in the corner of my town and my mind. I stopped talking. I just listened. I mistook my need to hear the truth for anxiety, but as I healed, I also understood that our ancestral mothers spoke to me. I started paying attention to all the stories. I looked into all little boxes.

And what I saw there was more than comforting. I saw young people watching you attentively, but quietly. I saw them form groups on online gaming platforms, shift identities beyond any binary system, and most importantly – I saw them collaborate kindly. I saw the most vulnerable of them emerge as leaders – they knew what was needed for all to thrive. I saw them change the rules of the game.

I also saw something even more magnificent. They learned from our grandparents, parents and us. Instead of changing the rules of the game, they moved on to re-shaping the game itself. They learned to mould their perception of realities into a new, fluid, unpredictable, yet caring world. Everyone was safe. No one was alone anymore.

So I am writing to let you know that I watch your last twitches of hate with amusement. I don’t amplify your voice anymore, but I see your story gradually becoming less and less relating to my child and me too.

Hear me out.

This new generation of humans is so far ahead of your game that no matter what laws you come up with, you are already late with your narrative. They are awake. They participate. They build new, active, hopeful democracy. The new world is already built-in those virtual and offline networks, in those kind and genuine connections. But it is not easily noticeable as it is formed from relationships, not walls. People carry it in their multiple, correlating stories. They do not even dream of rising against you. Why waste the effort on the old, if we can build a new way of being?

They are sitting steadily. Waiting and listening to their new stories. Watching your binary, divisive, exploitative and hostile world view crumbling away with every single lie you speak. They are actively shaping their new future. They ignore your poking and your abuse. They resist it patiently. They are a new kind, you see. They work hard, play well and build trusted connections. They excel at their talents but look back to support those who come behind them and place the most vulnerable at the heart of their systems.

And you still underestimate them with your old tricks.

I do not. I am sitting quietly, admiring their new creations. I rest waiting because I know I do not have to rise anymore. I am still, though, still and steady. I support those young people in every quiet but confident way I can. I am making time and space for them to form their world. I am teaching them tools they will need to shape and lead our new world.

You? You won’t even notice it. You are not paying attention. You are too busy talking.

(Side note: no actual men were harmed in the process of me writing this – the men in my life are giants – my late father, my husband, my son, my boss, my male mentors – they are all giants of the new word and I salute them for their kindness as often as I can. No actual men are targeted by this post – the man here is a metaphor, of course).

Photo by Andrew Measham on Unsplash

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