Think about the things that make you angry. The things that make your blood boil. The things that make you want to fall to your knees, throw your hands up to the heavens and post an angry Twitter rant.
Each week, when I think about what to write my column about, I try to come up with a topic that I think might interest the JCU demographic. I can’t count the unfinished columns about social media and relationships and pop culture lying dormant deep in my computer’s folders. But I would usually end up trashing them and find myself writing about any given human rights issue or other criticism of society.
Many weeks, I’d hesitate to submit what I’d written, fearing it would annoy someone, or that I might come off as self-righteous, or that I’d been politically incorrect, or that people wouldn’t be interested in the topic. But ultimately, it is this very fear that then motivated me to submit it.
What I’ve learned by writing about risky topics is the utmost importance of standing up for something, regardless of whether anyone is standing with you. I urge everyone to do the same. Standing up for something – for anything – is an empowering feeling that not only informs others, but promotes self-growth as well.
I don’t claim to be an authority on feminism, racism, economic inequality or any of the subjects I’ve written about, but I stand by everything I’ve written because it’s what I’m passionate about. Taking a stand on something that affects me directly or indirectly is what makes me feel human. I don’t expect to start revolutions or overthrow deeply ingrained social norms with my words, but if I can make someone think about something in a new way, or introduce someone to a new idea or perspective on an issue, then I have done my job.
Besides, it’s good to stir the pot a little bit. This reminds me of previous CN managing editor Brian Bayer, whose columns – albeit of a higher level of humor and wit than I could ever aspire to – often garnered angry responses from Greek Lifers or otherwise miffed students. While some of these were the result of an unfortunate misunderstanding of satire, some people had legitimate beef with him. But these kinds of reactions are what every writer strives for, because they spark conversation and provoke thought.
Sometimes, all it takes is starting a conversation to change someone’s mind. And it’s through conversation that we become aware of what’s going on around us – which more often than not, is more than meets the eye. Many of the things I write about are inspired by things I read, but when I see or experience things like the perils of unpaid internships, excessive Millenial-bashing or (my personal favorite) pervasive sexism, my fingers nearly explode with the need to write about it and urge people to care about it. I realize that not everyone agrees with my opinions on what I write about, but that’s what makes it so important.
I’m lucky to have had a medium through which I could express my views about topics that are close to my heart, but I know many don’t have that kind of opportunity. But while a 700-word column in a weekly college newspaper is one of the more ideal outlets (kidding, sort of), there are myriad of other ways to express your views. While Facebook and Twitter can be sources of desperate posts begging for validation and attention, they are also the perfect places to share information about important issues and give your take on them. Anything that sparks discussion – though hopefully not the passive-aggressive-fights-in-the-comment-section kind – is something worth sharing with both your virtual and your actual friends.
The things I have written about are what lights that spark within me that everyone has. So stand up for something, no matter what it is and no matter who else, if anyone, is standing with you. There’s no greater danger to our world than a human race that does not care about its problems and want to solve them. I know it can be tempting to ignore problems that pervade society to the point where they seem inevitable, but that kind of apathy only perpetuates more problems.
So follow a news source’s Twitter account. Read books. Care about things. Discuss issues. Most importantly, stand for something, and don’t be afraid to do so.