I was fundamentally challenged in 2016. Much of what I thought I knew about how the world works just didn’t follow the rules. The events in the UK and the USA will be analysed for years and decades to come. Historians will look back in careful detail and provide insight on why these events came to be.
I’m left challenged by these events because they have changed the social dynamic. And it has shed light on human behaviour that many of us just didn’t expect to be as mainstream as we thought it was. Maybe mainstream isn’t the right word – but certainly we’re now witness to behaviour the likes of which many of would rather dismiss as being true.
We’re facing a challenge with the president-elect. He uses Twitter to pass comment and apparent policy in a way no-one has ever thought was feasible. Such an action can be looked at in one of two ways. Those of us who are advocates of social media and the openness and transparency it brings to a person and their thinking should welcome this type of leadership. Except it isn’t leadership. It’s nothing more than messaged being broadcast. It’s not dialogue and it’s not intended to be. It’s demagoguery at it’s most heightened. But it does show how powerful social media has become as a way of providing a voice to those who didn’t know they could do this.
There are now more clear divisions in society and they’ve provided a clear look at just how polarised many of us are on so many things – and many of those things are contradictory! What I have been trying to find a path through is to understand these divisions and what they represent. I’m no more than an armchair psychologist on such things. I have no answers but it does all provide for very focused debate and development of thinking.
How many of us thought that we’d need to challenge what we knew about politics? About misogyny? About sexual orientation? About the ‘needs of men’? About disabilities? About our neighbours? Our cousins? Our family members? Our friends?
There are companies out there who are doing the right things by their people. They’re being actively inclusive and not afraid to do so. And there are a good many who don’t know what that means or how to be better.
See, one of things that has become apparent – to me – is that with all the advancements with the Equality Act and the likes, we never really helped people build empathy with others. We just showed people how to not be offensive to others. That’s not the same as being inclusive. We’ve only just begun to really understand that inclusion is a long way off for many of us. Our understanding of inclusion in society now needs to be better articulated and better fought for.
And in the UK we’re left with public commentary from the likes of Katie Hopkins and Arron Banks. As Julian Stodd has commented in other places, how lucky we are that we can know these voices exist. They provide voice and articulate their thoughts with disturbing clarity, giving strength and validity to those who can’t do the same. That’s a worrying thing for sure because they claim to be the voice of the majority. Where the truth is more closer to them being the voice of a loud minority. There are plenty of people standing up to them and their thinking and comments.
And what do we know about change? That we’re all affected by it and it takes times for us to all work with it and be better from it. The events of 2016 will keep us reeling for years to come, possibly longer.
I’m ready for 2017.