In Conversation with Beast: On Euripides, E-Silence and Cancel Culture
One of the biggest problems with Social Media is an ironic one - so many of its billions of users don’t know what being sociable truly means.
A simple Google search of the word ‘sociable’ gives the following definition:
“Willing to talk and engage in activities with other people; friendly.”
Social Media has its very numerous benefits. For one, you probably won’t be reading this piece if it didn’t exist. But the ever-growing microcosmic and microscopic view of life seen daily on it has had far-reaching effects on the collective consciousness of millions of the Millennial and Gen Z generation.
It’s our primary means of communication, and for most, the only way they know how. Naturally, we tend to form a lot of our views on numerous issues due to the different opinions and perspectives available that we relate to or agree with, whether done directly or subconsciously. Celebrities, Influencers and blue-checked accounts have risen to be the thought-leaders of our generation.
Whether that is a positive or negative isn’t the point of this piece, and at the risk of hypocritically perpetuating the issue this tries to address, I’ll leave it up to you to figure out and form an opinion for yourself.
I came across a tweet from user @HistoryInMoments on my TL about an hour ago, with this above quote from classical Greek Dramatist Euripides.
I first saw this quote when I was a child curious about Classical Literature, yearning for more than the Enid Blyton and Harry Potter child/young adult fiction books I was constantly exposed to and was consuming voraciously. The quote resonated with me deeply, and I tried to live by it.
But there always comes a time when one has to re-examine all what one has learned over the course of one’s life — questioning whether one’s beliefs are true to oneself and not a product of one’s naïveté, environment, culture, religion etc. By the time I was in Uni, I disagreed with the statement. During debates and discussions with friends and colleagues, my reluctance to agree totally with what I then considered blanket statements and sweeping generalisations elicited mockery and derision, with statements like ‘You sabi pass Greek Philosophers?’
And I would say then as I answer now - Probably not. But I know I don’t know, and I’m allowed to question and relook whatever I have developed conflicting views on. That doesn’t make me right, but am I not entitled to my opinion?
I replied with the above tweet, and after a reply from a friend Twitter User @Beastiiful, the below conversation ensued (I really hate using the word ‘ensued’. Sounds so ‘highfalutin’…lol)
What follows -with his permission- is our exchange, slightly edited for clarity.
JOHN: I still disagree with this thinking. It’s not always black and white.
BEAST: Well, there are moments where we should not be silent. But it isn’t black and white.
JOHN: Exactly. It’s not that simple sometimes, especially when one is in an impossible lose-lose situation. Case in point, this counterproductive ‘This You?’ trend. A former racist who’s renounced their way speaks against it publicly, but is constantly reminded of their past. See?
Or Doja Cat saying literally anything about anything race-related rn, no matter how positive and rational it is. That statement is inherently flawed because human beings are. We attach our context and personal sentiments to issues we care about, and sometimes fail to see others’.
BEAST: I think you’re expanding the scope a little too much. If Doja Cat was called a racist, and she goes around keeping quiet despite the facts pointing to racist activity, then it may indicate agreement. If you see an innocent man about to be lynched as a thief… And you keep quiet… Well, people will assume you think he’s a thief. But you may keep quiet because speaking up may mean bodily harm… And things like that. That’s why it’s not so clear cut.
JOHN: Bruh, I’m not expanding the issue. It’s the reality — people expand the issue themselves, taking statements like this in totality, divorcing the necessary context. Nothing she says or does will sink in, because the collective anger is currently aimed at her.
[On the man about to be lynched] That’s a very different scenario. The chances of that happening are slim. I’m 80% sure that if you scroll through your TL right now, you’ll see numerous examples of exactly what I’m talking about. As expected, you touched on the Doja issue. How about the ‘This You?’ point? See?
BEAST: I don’t really subscribe to it. I subconsciously do it, however. But not in the censorious manner that it’s used. Because I understand that people are allowed to change opinions in the light of new situations. But I still don’t think it’s equitable to keeping silent.
JOHN: Neither do I. It’s never okay to keep silent. But what seems like silence to the general public might be deafening noise behind the scenes. A neutral who doesn’t know who J.Cole and Kendrick are would have believed the accusations that they’re staying ‘silent’. See?
BEAST: Hmmm. That’s true. It’s like when Falz is always brought up when there’s an uproar.
JOHN: EXACTLY. Imagine Euripides calling Falz’ justified silence as agreement. Greek Legend or not, I go clear am to e face say e dey yan Greek dust. Simple.
There’s this annoyingly inane assumption here that one’s ‘E-Silence’ means one isn’t doing anything about an issue in REAL LIFE, where it actually matters. Another angle to silence is when an issue is so profoundly stupid that I’d rather be silent. Aka ‘Unlooking’
Another example, a hypothetical scenario where the politically motivated accusations at Segalink for being partisan are true. Let’s even assume he took a bribe. If he saved a Bayo from some of our ‘Armed Police Robbers’, I totally understand if Bayo says ‘silent’ because he’s indebted.
BEAST: Yeah. This is a very example of why it’s not so clear cut. People have very different motivations. But most likely, Bayo keeping quiet will signal acceptance to many people. Even though it’s just him not choosing a side because of the cost of choosing one.
JOHN: And that’s their problem. A signal is a signal, it doesn’t make it true. A rationale black person staying silent in the wake of Nick Cannon getting fired is probably doing so because they understand exactly why he was fired, but won’t attack their own.
Look at the initial response by black people to the OJ Simpson case, or even more recently, the Jussie Smollett incident. Even when they knew in their hearts that they did that shit, many kept quiet initially because it was their own.
BEAST: I’ve agreed that it’s not so clear cut because people are motivated by very different things. But let’s look at a fresh incident. D’banj. Innocent or not, silence?
JOHN: This is exactly one of those moments. Even if many signs point to the fact that D’banj probably did that shit, there’s no way for people to really know the truth of exactly what happened. So can you blame Bayo for staying neutral (silent)?
Bayo almost beat his sister’s rapist to death, and is very vocal against all forms of assault. So the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard issue affected him personally, because Depp is his favourite Actor. But assault and rape? Never. So he’s vocally against Johnny Depp. He cancels him, joining in the uproar and boycott of ‘Fantastic Beasts’, even if HP is his favourite series ever. He watches ‘Aquaman’ at IMAX Lekki in ‘support’ of Amber Heard, because he saw his sister in her.
Years later, turns out she was the assaulter. Can you blame Bayo for staying silent now?
BEAST: Ahh. Well, Bayo is well within his rights to choose silence. But we’re both assuming that when you speak, it needs to be in support of one side or the other. And it doesn’t have to be. If you agree that your voice matters, then you’ll agree that you can speak about the fence.
JOHN: Exactly. Thing is there is no way no know. How random strangers feel about anything I do doesn’t really concern me. If you want to know one’s views on an issue, ask them, don’t presume.
BEAST: Well, I’ll understand it if Bayo does. But even if the silence does not mean acceptance, it can be very expensive. Hmm. Well, I also stay silent on many things myself, so I’m not really one to talk.
JOHN: Exactly. Point one finger, three point back. We’re all fucking hypocrites las las.
😂 Omo lowkey we don do think-piece ontop replies. Went through the thread, men just dey speak English. Abeg x3
BEAST: 😂Agreed, big chief.