“Without Twitter the people of Iran would not have felt empowered and confident to stand up for freedom and democracy…Where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools.” This line is from our first reading for the week “Small Change” by Malcom Gladwell. This line, especially the second part, absolutely broke my heart as I read it. Where they were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools?
My boyfriend writes for a small magazine in our hometown, and he just recently finished an article about the “biddie phenomenon.” You’ve seen them, they are everywhere. Black stretch pants, Ugg boots, Northface jacket, cell phone out and fingers furiously texting away. It’s the worst on a Friday night, they stream through the streets, in herds, walking in mini-skirts and four-inch heels over ice-covered sidewalks in thirty degree weather. No jackets, not even tights…come on girls, what are you thinking? I’ll tell you. They’re thinking that some bro is going to think they look good. Because somehow, society has told them that it’s okay that they get the flu, but their ass better look damn good. By the way ladies, you look like idiots, and the guys do not think it’s cute. Sure they’ll cat call you as you walk by, but as soon as you turn the corner they’re shaking their heads and wondering how you could be that dumb. I’ve seen it a million times.
“Defined by their tools,” that’s for sure. These girls (and they are not alone, guys do it to) have completely lost their sense of independence. I’m even going so far as to say this generation has lost their sense of independence. Everyone just follows everyone around them. It’s to the point where if you look around in a bar on a Saturday night, every girl is wearing the exact same outfit. Not just alike, exactly the same: white wife beater tank top tucked into a black high-wasted mini and black heels. Exactly the same. This society runs completely on what you look like and what you own. What your tools are. And if your tools aren’t the same as everyone else’s, it’s not as good.
Now Gladwell tells me that not only fashion and electronics, but now even the way we protest is defined the same way. Not what you are protesting, but how you protest and what you protest on. And if you’re not doing it the same way as everyone else, you’re not cool? Isn’t the point to be different? To stand up for what you believe in because it isn’t the norm? The very essence of activism is a call for change. Watch out though, cause if you don’t change the same way as everyone else you might not fit in.