What would you protest?
In Ireland there has been a bunch of large scale protests around a range of topics over the last few years. Here's a list of some of the more memorable ones:
Nurses working conditions
Anti water charges
The list of protests that I personally took part in is a little smaller:
I agreed with many of the protesters on several of these causes, especially the climate change protests (as anyone who reads this blog will know).
However I just did not care enough about any of them to actually expend any sort of physical effort.
In most of the cases I am glad the protests happened but contributed absolutely nothing, opting instead to sit in the comfort of my own home being unhappy with the situation.
This got me thinking. What do I actually care enough to get up and protest?
What does it all mean?
What would turn you into an activist? Where is your outrage threshold?
For myself, I'm genuinely not sure.
I disagreed with the introduction of water charges in Ireland and didn't pay the bill I received (and never intended to), but it was the large scale protests that forced the government to change its strategy, not my non compliance.
If all of those other people hadn't protested I would likely be paying water charges by now and would be pissed off about it.
But I still don't care that much.
When I was a teenager I attended a protest against the war in Iraq, but that was more of a social event with a group of friends that all enjoyed listening to punk music and going to punk shows.
Given the anti-establishment nature of many teenage 'punks' I feel like we would have protested anything. We weren't driven by passion - at least not by anti-war passion.
I can't help but wonder how many people who attend protests are doing it for that same reason. To be part of a group rather than really fighting the cause.
And if that is the case, does it even matter?
It feels like protests aren’t really an effective conduit for social change. Sure, they do have an impact, but generally speaking it's all about politicians and the votes they want.
To me a protest feels like a really inefficient way to tell a bunch of politicians that if they are on the other side of the fence on an issue they aren't getting your vote.
This means that a protest has to be huge to make an impact - because your local politicians don't care about you or your one vote, they care and popular opinion, and this is what you can see shifting with large scale protests.
It's interesting to think about the impact the internet and the complete lack of social privacy it brings will have on all of this...
By the way, I still haven't managed to think of something that I care enough about to actually protest. I've also put some constraints on it. The protest is taking place on a miserable day where it's lashing rain and will have a low turnout.
That's the real test.
Are you will to go out and fight for something you believe in in the cold and wet and with little or no support?
Maybe if they tried to take my cat... I think that might get me out protesting...