Yesterday the UK voted to leave the EU. Waking up to the news was sad, but not surprising.
Last year when The Conservatives took leadership I was surprised, everyone I knew had voted Labour, or Green. Who were these thousands that had voted for the Tories? They weren't on my social media feeds and they certainly weren't the people I socialised with. It's easy to forget that like breeds like, that we surround ourselves with those with a similar world view. It can be easy to forget that not everyone has the same morals and ideals. After the general election there were calls for the left to unite and to reach out to those with right-wing views. There were calls to stand by our friends, colleagues, and those disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals that were negatively effected by Tory policy. In my circles the same is true today.
There is a lot that we can all learn from the leave campaign. Hear me out. The leave campaign focused on the fears people have. They appealed to the Joe Bloggs on the street. They appealed to the majority who do not have a university education, who may not be as analytical of the evidence presented to them. The language used in the leave campaign was simple, deliberately emotive to stir prejudices that many of like to gloss over. It would appear that part of human nature is to be fearful of the unknown, and other religions, other cultures are still unknown, even in this age of technology and networks.
But this is all very easy for me to say. I am white British and I am acutely aware that the west has this idea that white is right, that our ideals and beliefs are obviously the best way. I don't know if they are, and I might never know they are. I think it's ok to question our morals and beliefs in relation to other cultures and beliefs, especially when new information arises.
I recently started reading 'We Think' by Charles Leadbeater, it might be slightly out of date as it discusses using the internet for mass innovation instead of mass production and was published in 2008 (my copy was published in 2009). The internet has leapt forward in great bounds since then and continues to do so. Social media is an unparalleled force in sharing of information and opinion and never before have we had such power to influence, participate, and collaborate. Our words can reach around the world in a blink of an eye, but as Leadbeater says;
Bloggers cannot overthrow authoritarian rulers on their own.
There are pockets on the internet where people do come together and collaborate. If you've ever scoured reddit, you may have stumbled across unresolved mysteries, you may have discovered the case of Grateful Doe. The internet came together to help provide Callahan's family with answers. That is an amazing amount of power. 'We Think' also introduces the readers to I Love Bees, another internet idea that again encouraged people to work together and to collaborate.
This links in with the knowledge that inspiration doesn't happen in a vacuum. In many fields, and not just those creative ones, innovation and inspiration comes from being engaged with the world and others. In many ways all creativity could be seen as a collaboration of some sort.
In the fallout of the decision to leave the European Union, there are calls again for unity, for those in the creative industries to do something. To unite and to celebrate culture in all it's forms, to stand by those who have a questionable future ahead.
I wanted this blog post to have a call to action of some type, a unity of 'this is how we can go forward now', but for all the press I read, and for all the BBC Radio 4 I listen to, I have no idea how that call to action could ever look. I don't have the answers. I don't think I ever did. What I will say is, we do have power, if we are able to listen, to share, and learn together we can harness the power in the internet. We can collaborate on the best way forward on this new playing field, we can support the vulnerable and we can be the change we want to see in the world.