The Plato’s Cave We Don’t Realize We’re In

I’ve been trapped here at some point. And you probably have too. In fact, you could be in there right now. It could have been recent given the myriad of things that consume people’s attention, things  that come across as trivial to you while there are more important issues that you feel should be discussed. Interestingly enough, this only happens via social media where enough people post or comment on not-so important things like, say, a dress that could be two color schemes simultaneously, llamas running on the loose, or issues that are happening in the “First World” you feel are not as devastating as they are in the “Third World”.

And once this mindset is established, we have entered the cave.

Here, the shadows that are set before us present humanity as a one-dimensional entity capable of only caring about one thing at a time or only having the capacity for foolery. Here, we buy into the “if I don’t see it, it’s not happening” opinion, strongly believing that if this many people are engaging in such trivial matters, surely they could not be concerned about the thing that you’re concerned about or, at least, matters that rank as important as the thing that breaks your heart. Here, what we have seen from the vast and infinite internet space is all there is and what we don’t see, both online and offline, are non-existent. Here, we think we are omniscient. Here, we are possibly self-righteous. Here, we lose faith in humanity.

Here, we are trapped in the cave of mutual exclusivity. 

I count on the “people are so wrapped up in this unimportant thing; meanwhile this more important thing is happening” comments to happen once social media has buzzed enough about a petty topic. And, like clockwork, they deliver their spiel right on time, still convinced these shadows of humanity that are reflected off of their screens via their social media accounts are all there is to these people. Meanwhile, I find myself unapologetically participating in this comedic relief especially considering the many recent frustrating reminders of the disregard of black women in the face of mainstream feminism and public figures insulting a hairstyle that has much meaning in many black cultures. It is in laughing and not taking myself too seriously that I participate in self-care.

The truth is humans are complex, three-dimensional characters capable of caring about more than one thing at a time. Humans are allowed to be both silly and serious; those traits are not mutually exclusive from each other. Humans are also not omniscient and just because something is not being observed from our corner of the interwebs does not mean it is not happening at all, either online or offline. This is the truth of the matter outside of this cave that limits our perception of the people we engage with online.

I love having meaningful conversations both online and offline. But being pensive is not all of who I am and I demonstrate that in both spheres. And it turns out that many of the people I follow online and the friends that I have offline are the same way. I also do not endorse taking people on unnecessary guilt trips, especially when all of us who have internet connections find ways to enjoy ourselves outside of the things that we are passionate about. It’s actually pretty hypocritical if we find carefree ways to go about our lives yet turn around to scold others for being carefree themselves.

In the face of issues that justify daily frustration and anger at the society I live in, I can’t afford to be angry everyday and I find various ways to circumvent that. Participating in fun, pointless banter is one of them and I do so without apology.

Do you notice this happen online as well? What other mutually exclusive statements have you seen made online that aren’t actually mutually exclusive? Also, were you #TeamBlackandBlue or #TeamGoldandWhite?

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