Sunday, June 21, 2020


In “The Silence of the Never Facebookers” in The Atlantic, writer Ian Bogost notes that the ability to decide never to work for Facebook “is a privileged attitude.” It's a point well-taken, and it boils down to the simple idea that principles are easy when the costs of acting on them are low. Deciding to walk out on an employer is easier for a person who believes that they'll land safely than it is for someone who believes they'll risk long-term unemployment. This is why Seth Godin speaks of “the difficult and heroic work of acting differently.” But, as Bertolt Brecht put it in Galileo: “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.”

If people generally understand that being the change one wants to see in the world requires privilege or heroism, many people simply won't do it; because they don't see themselves as privileged or heroic. What makes privilege and heroism valuable is their limited status. But if being the change is the path of least resistance, the easiest option, then more people will take it. Changing rhetoric and changing actions are not the same, but both can be accomplished. People do so all the time. They incorporate new sayings and words into their vocabularies, they form new habits and replace old ones, they alter the incentives that they respond to and that they offer to others. And while a sense of urgency is called for, the world doesn't need to be different tomorrow. There is time for people to help one another along the path. There is time to make the change we want to see in the world something mundane and commonplace, and so help it become the world.

No comments: