Here we are, three days into the new year. Still looking for a good resolution or two? I don’t do mine on the holiday for a number of reasons, but the following are all things I’ve worked to do myself.
- Consider not saying anything. What do you want your words to do for the people you’re communicating to? If whatever you were about to say is there to show off your knowledge or experience, talk about how good a human being you are, or change the subject to something you like better, maybe don’t. If they require someone else to be ignorant in order to be useful, maybe don’t. And if they’re violating someone’s boundaries, yeah, just don’t.
- Take care of the caretakers. We can fall into social roles without meaning to. Some people become the designated adult in their interactions, the mom friend (whatever their actual gender). Turn that relationship on its head sometimes. Ask them how they’re doing or what they need.
- Credit creators. Like Sarah Andersen‘s work? Share it from her website or social media accounts. Same for other artists. Don’t share tweets or quotes with the creators’ names cropped off. Google the phrase you liked best and reshare if you have to. Quote people instead of restating their points. Tell the world which analysts and academics inform your worldviews. Link to them.
- Don’t harsh the squee. (Thanks to Lynne M. Thomas for the phrasing.) Challenge media that harms people, but give up the idea that your aesthetic preferences are a guide to a better world. Art is complex, and the smallest part of the whole may be exactly the thing that gives a patron life. Pleasures shouldn’t have to be guilty because they’re not universal.
- Think about what you want. Before you point out yet again that Trump admitted to sexual assault and still sits in the Oval Office, figure out what you’re looking for. Do you want to feel less alone with that knowledge? Then it would be nice to offer some sympathy yourself as you share. Do you think there’s something your social media followers can effectively do about that? Consider sharing your secret with them. Are you just “raising awareness”? Ask yourself whether you know anyone who isn’t already painfully aware.
- Sweat the small stuff sometimes. The world’s political problems are…huge. They’re beyond me right now. If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have the magic button that will fix things either. You do probably have a few messes that are in your power to clean up, though, be they personal or very, very literal. They’re not unimportant. Your role as the person who can take care of them isn’t unimportant. The improvements they’ll make to your life aren’t unimportant. When the big picture is too big, go ahead and think small.
- Contemplate your own conservatism. It’s easy to think our most extreme conservatives have a lock on the stuff. The truth is, though, that we all have our ruts. We have our received wisdom that may be older than it is sound. We have our resistance to change. We have our shortages of imagination. That isn’t wrong. It’s human. But knowing where we are conservative can help keep us from making asses of ourselves insisting our unexamined intuitions are progressive truth.
Feel free to steal any of my resolutions. Suggest your own to make the world a better place.