On forgetting and re-remembering for liberation
Good morning. I hope this finds you safe and well. It’s been a busy time for me, so I am entering the weekend with the intention of slowing down. In Wales, you see “Araf” written on the roads to remind you about the speed limitations (or opportunities). My body screams against any speed faster than 60 km/h, so I love the sign on my way to and from counselling work – 5 miles per hour! Every time I enter this alley, I bow to the trees and thank them for watching over me. I bow them goodbye, too.
I think we underestimate Nature so much. Even though she’s currently in despair, we walk this planet completely ignorant of her pain. Our butterfly bush has been in bloom for over a week now, and I have only seen…ONE butterfly! Butterflies can smell its scent from miles afar, so there simply aren’t any left in my very green part of Bristol. It’s devastating to see this emptiness in our garden…I was hoping to join the national butterfly count, but there is nothing to see… just…silence….silence and emptiness. Soon we will see more Nature in street art than in our streets, I fear…
In liberation psychologies, we work with silence and absence a lot. We work with the anti-oppressive practice to tackle the active silencing and erasure of living beings, but we also work just as hard with the unnoticed, the absent, and the erased histories. We help clients re-remember their stories, re-author their lives and reconnect with their cultures.
And so this week, as Meta is launching their new app, Threads, which is aiming to compete with Twitter – so far successfully, as it has already attracted over 50 million users in just a few days in the US and UK alone – I spend my free time reflecting on the power of those relatively inexpensive global platforms for re-authoring of our own stories. My Threads community so far is rich in diversity, activism, critical thinking and incredible leadership of individuals who have now become publishers of their own stories. Of course, the big picture is a bit bleak, too – Meta now closes the Internet, which was initially designed to open the world for collaboration. We become even more tied up in the virtual landscape of apps owned by one company. That’s never really safe. And it’s possible that a more open platform like Twitter and all other smaller and new emerging micro-blogging platforms will go extinct.
However, another digitally interconnected future is also possible. It’s possible that while Meta is developing their new app (let’s face it, it was launched in its rather raw version) and while we can connect organically without the brutal interference of adverts, we remember how social media channels used to feel, how those virtual landscapes enriched our grounded reality with rich, meaningful online connections and the beautiful power of self-publishing. We reconnect with the notion of a clean, open and most importantly – kind, collaborative space.
So I sit down on a bench with my dog, accept the empty, well-trimmed park for a moment, and think about that one light brown butterfly that came to visit our garden the other day – a reminder of something that was there and is no longer present. Maybe, just maybe, we will remember a kinder, softer, more delicate web of connections we used to build online and fight for it. I think it is possible. I actually think Threads is reminding us all about it. And once we remember, there is no way back. We leave the cocoon of monetised, closed by algorithms, almost suffocating web and liberate ourselves towards a more open digital future.
I hope we can do this collectively. To me, this feels like the only way forward to save ourselves and the planet.
Technology and Nature serve us with so many incredible metaphors for liberation, so today, I encourage you to feel into those two landscapes of interconnectedness and notice:
- Can you see an image (in Nature or virtual realities) of something that feels familiar with the sensations, emotions and thoughts you have about a challenge you are currently facing? Can you use this image to find solutions to your challenge?
- Think about the part of your identity that something may feel neglected due to the demands of our neo-liberal, consumerist life demands. Who do you not have any time for and miss? Maybe your inner artist, your warrior, your parent who reminds you to slow down and rest? Can you find a Nature or tech metaphor for this longing and the needs those inner parts fulfil for you? Again, work with it: how can you use the metaphor as a vessel to re-remember those parts and reconnect with them?
- Sit out in Nature or browse around a digital space which feels nurturing and inspiring (for me, it is still Pinterest visualisations of myths and tales, for example). Hang out in that space. Get a feel for it. And listen. Wait. Explore. Notice what does grab your attention and why? What is enticing, interesting, nurturing, and soothing? Why? Does it connect to any of the forgotten parts of you, your needs, passions, and hobbies? Allow yourself a moment of joy, exploration and awe in this space. And when you come back to busy reality, carry that feeling of awe and peace with you. Maybe this will inspire you to make real adjustments in life, pick up a new hobby or shift habits just a little bit, softly, towards better wellbeing.
I am off to meet a friend in the city, play with balloon robots displayed in a park in Bristol this weekend, cheer during the Bristol Pride and grab a choc-chip mint ice cream – even though they say rain. Why not? We all have a playful and hopeful inner child, so let’s celebrate it. I wish you a soft weekend!
This post was originally posted on Substack in our Syl’s Liberation Psychologies Newsletter.