So, everything is awful. Global warming has probably crossed the threshold. Police keep killing black people. There’s a concentration camp for gay men. Bees are dying. Idiots are launching missiles by fiat. It’s all very, very frightening. And the way we ingest news now, via Twitter probably, means that it’s overwhelming. Despair is palpable. I wake up in the mornings and I read the terrible things that are happening and I feel like I’m drowning. And then, to feel like I’m doing something about it, I tweet. Which… doesn’t actually stop the situation, it just makes more tweets. Which other people then read, and also feel powerless. It’s like right thinking people have locked themselves in a room just so they can cry at each other.
This doesn’t feel like a workable strategy.
You know, I have over a thousand people following me on Twitter? I think almost all of them are anti-austerity, anti-racism, anti-all that other bullshit. That’s a lot of people in agreement. Why do we all feel so alone with it then? Why, when there are so many of us, do we feel like there is no point in speaking out? Signal boosting and reporting is great, but what comes afterwards? What are we actually meant to do?
Something is better than nothing. Mostly, at the moment, I do nothing. I just feel bad, as if feeling bad were a route forward instead of a cul-de-sac. I’d like to try something different.
This summer, I am going to start sending postcards to my MP. I’m going to make a ritual of it. On Sunday morning, before I notice my hangover, I’m going to sit down and write four postcards. One to Sarah Newton, my local Tory, and three for other relevant MPs. That’s it. A concrete, helpful action.
Here’s why it’s better than tweeting:
- It takes up their time. Tweets can be ignored, MPs have to reply to post.
- And a record of your correspondence is kept. It provides evidence against which they can be held accountable.
- Even if your MP is one of those UKIP monstrosities, time spent writing back to you is time they can’t spend being proactively evil. #WasteHisTime2017
- It puts your message with people who actually have the power to change things.
- It lets you use fancy stationery.
- It’s concrete action. You’ll feel better. Trust me.
PLUS, because I am a genius, the postcards still get to be on Twitter anyway. There’ll even be a hashtag, #Postcards4MPs, because I want this to be a habit and I’d like other people to join in. For the cost of 4 stamps and 4 index cards (less than £2.50 a week?) you could stop feeling like a victim (no shade) and start feeling like Lesley Knope. I’ll even look up some people for us to write to each week. It's only a little thing, and no, it doesn't match the scale of the problems. But if all you're doing is panicking and tweeting, this is a step in the right direction, right?
So yeah, that’s my idea. I’ll see you on Sunday.