It’s still Friday to me!
Ai Weiwei is a well known artist from China. He’s featured in a documentary called Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, which is on Netflix streaming. It’s a great little documentary and I recommend it to everyone interested in politics or art. Right now, he has an exhibit on Alcatraz (that I should be going to see next month) about political prisoners from around the world and questions what freedom really is. Amnesty International went over to Alcatraz last week to look at the exhibit.
I have a little book of short quotes called Ai Weiwei-isms. It’s a collection of quotes taken from interviews, articles, blogs and tweets by Weiwei.
What I frequently see from people, probably even myself, is a devaluing of our freedoms. Things like twitter, instagram, facebook, and even blogs (gasp!), are ripped apart all the time. Who doesn’t get tired of reading silly, bordering on idiotic, posts on facebook? I think we forget that being allowed to do such a simple thing as write a tweet is actually not a guarantee. This freedom does result in countless terrible arguments in comment sections all over the internet, but on the other hand Ai Weiwei was jailed for a blog post. That’s a reality a lot of us aren’t faced with and as a result we denigrate what these things are rather than acknowledge what they could be. Whether you have something to say about the government or only want to write about your day to day activities, it’s pretty neat that we can do it.
“These are nonviolent people who have lost their freedom simply because they expressed their ideas… In truth, they are heroes of our time.”
People like Ai Weiwei (and I wish I was more aware of the countless others) remind me that tweeting can be an act of rebellion. And that every word holds meaning.
Many times I’ve read “what does a hashtag do?” What is does is start a conversation, if anyone else wants to have one. It also allows you to express your thoughts. Whether you get one retweet or a hundred thousand, it’s freedom. Freedom in a meaningful sense as well. Individual freedom to your thoughts without fear. What that doesn’t mean is that you can say stupid things without someone telling you you’re stupid. You see this sort of thing when a favorite TV personality or radio host says something over the top. They yell “freedom of speech” when all anyone wants to do is point out the stupidity of what he or she said. But in all those cases, people seem to overlook the fact that no one is being hauled off to jail. That’s what the freedom means. That’s what plenty of people do not have.
It seems like the world is full of cynics. People who sit on the sideline and shit on everything while never taking the risk necessary to care about something themselves. It’s not hard to be that cynical person. I was that person in my late teens. But it just meant I was static while other people were taking risks. Sometimes they failed, sometimes they said something stupid. But I wasn’t saying anything at all.
“Blogs and the Internet are great inventions for our time, because they give regular people an opportunity to change public opinion.”
Sometimes we use it to say nothing at all. But it’s pretty nice that it’s there when we need it.