The Right to Remain Silent

It was quiet on The Friendly Anarchist since my book launch. After finishing the work, it somehow came natural to be silent for a while. During the last couple of weeks, though, there was something else to it: I wasn’t feeling at ease, and I wasn’t living tempo giusto – which is why I got lost for a while.

I didn’t enjoy launching the book at that date, because of the events in Japan. I felt it wasn’t a good moment, I felt there were more important things to write about, and I wasn’t happy to see the reaction to the catastrophe in much of the blogosphere, nor in the mainstream media – but I neither had a better idea about what to do.

After Japan, the more thoughtful responses and analysis seemed to get lost in an avalanche of pearl harbor tweets, pseudo-esoteric “universal justice” bullshit, and a political response of helplessness. Many news outlets seemed to be hoping for a rapid meltdown in Fukushima just because they wanted the scoop.

And then, there was so much more going on in the world in the last few months: The revolutions and uprisings in Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Lybia, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Iraq, Bahrein, Iran. The earthquake in New Zealand. The bombing in Moscow. The floodings in Brazil and Australia. In Colombia, the worst natural disaster in the country’s history took place without most of the world even noticing it.

Considering all the stuff that happened, I was simply tired. My capacity of processing all this information, the images, opinions, thoughts and discussions somehow had reached its limits. Uneventfulness seemed to be something thoroughly desirable, and this is, somehow, the flipside to living an interesting life.

Of course, ignorance doesn’t make things better. But sometimes, I feel like it’s preferable to shut up for a while instead of engaging without having anything to contribute. As I once wrote on these pages, there is a small but significant difference between being ignorant, and simply avoiding true but useless information. From a perspective of taking action, there’s also a difference between acting precipitantly just because we feel forced to act, and taking the time to reduce the noise, create a space for reflection, and then act accordingly.

Politicians generally suffer from a desire of doing the former. As do most people in social media and the news. If I look at their overall efforts in the last couple of months, I cannot resist the urge to call for a tempo giusto approach to internet technology and journalism.

In legal terms, we not only enjoy the right to express ourselves. As any viewer of TV police series knows, we also enjoy the right to remain silent. Maybe it’s a right we should exercise more often.

In the last couple of weeks, I felt the need to be silent for a while, and stand back. At the same time, I decided to focus on the many things and persons right in front of me that needed my attention.

As during last year’s Europe trip, there can be periods when it’s hard to be a serious blogger, tweeter, and emailer. Apart from the world events, this was due to mostly pleasant things, but also due to the plain and “normal” life that was happening beyond the screen.

Dedicating time to it was just what I needed, in order to get my head at least a little bit clearer. If we don’t commit to act on what’s right in front of us, we will get hung up in theoretical exercises that lead nowhere, looking for large-scale solutions we will never find anyway. Maybe, remaining silent and just working on smaller issues for a while isn’t the best thing we could possibly do, nor does it solve all of our problems. But at least, it’s better than joining the chorus of the songs the Screaming Bullshit Band is singing, and not really doing anything at all.

With this small rant, publishing will be resumed here on TFA. On Tuesday, we will look at life aboard a vessel on the Amazon, electric blankets, and lots of chicken. Thanks for sticking around, and, if I owe you a mail, it will arrive soon!

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