Reflective & Topical

The Elusive Middle-Ground

It’s refreshing to see anti-*insert variable* movements gaining traction over recent years thanks to social media providing an outlet to the once lesser heard voice. Just look at the array of body positive, confident (or perhaps not) people of all shapes, sizes, abilities and genders sharing their bits and bobs on your insta feed – a rebellion against the perfect, pouting supermodel of the 90’s.

As is the tendency with the swinging pendulum of the social spiritus mundi, humanity has an unfortunate propensity to over compensate for past societal transgressions by over zealously pushing the balance-wheel from the wrongful, judgemental, intolerant position quite far beyond the happy middle ground. We seem intent on making up for previous wrongs by going so far the other way we can err on the ridiculous and risk losing credibility completely when we actually have a very valid point to make.

The shamed mother, teased by the avocado blending, nappy knitting, baby wearing earth mother, has revolted against the Pinterest perfect expectation of polished parenthood and found comfort in the company of other just-doing-their-best Mums (i.e. most of us) who don’t always get it right. But alarmingly this has devolved rapidly into crisps for dinner being celebrated, sleeping pre-dressed for school labelled “an ingenious time saver” and being unable to remember the last bath night hailed as a middle-finger-to-the-man sort of protest. Now, I’m certainly no stranger to the midweek, oven ready meal to lessen the pain of the school night stretch, but I think there are corner cutting limits before which we all must take a pause.

The aforementioned body positivity movement is in danger of losing the heart of its (quite fabulous and much needed) lesson to love thyself, bumps, lumps, wobbles, bobbles and all, and being overshadowed by the heavy-handed, rebellious, anti-doctor message often pioneered on popular social accounts with huge followings. Misinformation on health and wellbeing spreads rapidly…especially when that narrative takes the onus away from personal responsibility.

That pandemic (that I won’t name or I’ll have to put in some sort of caveat I’d imagine, you know the one!) was proof of the wildfire that is meme theory. (Interestingly the Greek root of the word meme is ‘mimema’ meaning ‘imitated’ i.e. a unit of cultural information spread by imitation. Isn’t language fascinating?! Just me?) We faced a secondary epidemic of disinformation at the root of which was an absolution of responsibility and a dilution of severity. Again, we saw the one extreme to the other narratives and you generally sat in either the “didn’t dare make eye contact with another human for fear of beckoning the apocalypse ” or the “this isn’t as bad as we’re being told, let’s have a wine and cheese work event” camp. Very few of us sat comfortably in the sensible, in between. (I was a heavily pregnant hypochondriac with severe social anxiety so I’ll leave my camp of choice to your imagination.)

Feminists shouting for equality are teetering precariously on the edge of demanding preferential treatment; socialists once banging the equality drum seem hellbent on giving away every hard earned penny of the working classes; fair, open market economies are shifting to oppressive and exploitative capitalism; and members of all sorts of minority groups, reeling from years of extreme subjugation, are accused of diminishing the equal rights of other social groups with their demands for fairness and inclusion …This swinging extreme from one to the other plays out in every aspect of society; politically, socially, economically and culturally, whether in fact or by perception. It seems by our very nature as humans we feel a wrong cannot be righted by happy compromise alone, and we will only feel a sense of justice when the suffering we once faced is experienced by the other side of the coin.

Do you think there is room for a happy medium? Or do you believe we are destined to swing between extremes as we make up for past injustices, ad infinitum?

As with any sharing of opinion on subjects that have the potential to be contentious – please be kind, respectful and mindful of others.

“Debate and divergence of views can only enrich our history and culture.”
Ibrahim Babangida

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