My laptop is special to me. It is the only place where I get to express and confide my true feelings and emotions through writing, before sharing them with the whole world.
Currently on social media, it is not enough to be right – you must also be kind – and the ridiculous thing is that political correctness is a real problem. When I look back at some of my own writing, I see versions of that same mistake my “woke friends” make. I thought if I was just overwhelmingly right enough, I could get people to listen.
Indeed, most of the writing that I look back on and regret is characterized by a similar tone that has way too much superiority and certainty and not nearly enough intellectual humility or empathy. It’s something I am guilty of in writing before and will be guilty of again – because it’s easier to be certain and clever than it is to be nuanced and nice.
My laptop is so special to me because it stores all my thought pieces so that I can reflect and reconstruct them before sharing with the world. My laptop came into my life as a gift from my mentor, Wilo Abdull in 2009. I took part in a study that seeks to identify and recognize youth as credible stakeholders in their community, organizations, and promoting active citizenry in South Africa and Sweden by forum Swedes Stockholm.
This is where my articulation and writing skills were recognized, through some of the opinion pieces I have written and shared during our training programme, as well as through the debates and dialogues held in the process. To me, this means that I have a huge responsibility to care about other people’s feelings too. Even if the facts are on my side and that is contrary to the popular belief.
Some say there’s no reason to care about people’s feelings if the facts are on your side.
The causes of this spreading through our culture are many. As we become more polarized and more algorithmically sorted, we care a lot less about the people who think differently than us and put little effort into persuading them. That’s because persuasion is no longer the goal – its signaling. And with signaling, its vehemence that matters, not quality.
The constraints of social media also reduce the space for any nuance or qualification you might be inclined to offer. 140 characters does not leave much room for humility or kindness. The desire for viral sharing heightens the need for aggressive, simplistic arguments. Reason is easy. Being clever is easy. Humiliating someone in the wrong is easy too. But putting yourself in their shoes, nudging them to where they need to be, understanding that they have emotional and irrational beliefs just like you do – that’s all much harder.
I intend to use my laptop to incorporate all the other skills I have in a positive way to promote the spirit of Ubuntu and make South Africa a better place.