We’re running out of time.
Yet each time there’s a protest by Extinction Rebellion, thousands of people take to social media to leave negative comments, criticise each protestor’s lifestyle and, in many cases, deliberately write nasty, abusive words that make the rest of us scream on the inside with utter despair.
If you’re one of those commenters, you’re missing the point.
The whole idea of any protest is to raise awareness and create change.
And in order to do that, protests must disrupt either governments, businesses or the public.
David Attenborough wouldn’t have created mass awareness about global warming and environmental issues without the help of the BBC and a huge team of scientists and digital crew.
Greenpeace wouldn’t have created mass awareness of the atrocities of whaling without their demonstrations back in the 1980s.
Animal rights groups wouldn’t have created mass awareness of testing on animals and barbaric fur farms without breaking in and releasing thousands of beagles, mink and rabbits.
While not every one of us desires to be (or even needs to be) a front line activist, these protests, events and online campaigns do motivate us – as both individuals and large corporations – to make changes.
As a vegetarian teenager back in the 80s, I was deeply saddened to find out about animal testing and instantly made the switch to The Body Shop’s products – a company at the forefront of the cruelty-free movement thirty years ago.
Extinction Rebellion are no different. They’re simply trying to make us aware of a global issue that will, in a very short period of time, affect every single one of us alive.
Of course, being stuck in traffic or late for work is an inconvenience, but it’s a tiny drop in the ocean to how life might be if we run out of food and water.
- Fancy living in a war zone or an overpopulated town with mass looting?
- Or how about a country with mass inflation where a loaf of bread costs £100?
- Or losing your home to rising sea levels and having to flee inland as a refugee?
No. Me neither.
And remember… if you’re able to read this on a smartphone from the luxury of your own home on a comfy sofa with a glass of wine, you’re one of the privileged few.
For now anyway.
Each person who takes part in a protest has their own reasons for doing so. We can’t all take part, just as we aren’t all willing to give up our cars or stop eating meat.
So herein lies the issue.
We’ve become an incredibly intolerant society jumping on the bandwagon and leaving vitriolic comments on social media posts that are simply highlighting events designed to help humanity as a whole.
I’ve read so many comments today where people feel they have the right to suggest that each protestor probably still uses a gas-guzzling 4×4 vehicle or takes a plane on holiday each year.
This kind of attitude implies that only the ‘purest’ of citizens have a right to protest for change.
How ridiculously twisted is that?
None of us are perfect.
And that’s ok.
Because in terms of climate change, that would mean we’d all have to live off grid, grow our own food, walk everywhere and eschew computers and wifi.
Hey, we’d even have to all live off lentil soup (because yes, someone did actually throw that one into a Facebook comments thread today!).
Assuming we could even harvest that many lentils from our small piece of land that is.
The point is, the bullying and trolling on social media is disgusting and disgraceful.
And it has to stop.
If you have time to make negative comments about climate change issues when other people are actually trying to help you to live a better life in the future, then you really need to find a new hobby to keep you busy.
Devil, idle hands. Just sayin’.
Currently, we all have a choice.
We can choose to eat less meat, take part in beach cleans, use a bike instead of a car or refuse to buy items in plastic.
We can choose to write blogs, make videos, start eco-friendly companies or speak in schools about the issues currently facing planet Earth.
Many choose to actively take part in protests, even if it means risking arrest or the abuse of those who disagree.
In the western world we’re lucky to live in a democracy where free speech is allowed. Not everyone has that choice to speak up for what they believe in.
So before you leave another ill-informed, abusive or even sarcastic comment, ask yourself this:
Am I contributing to this discussion in a way that is positive, polite and constructive?
Remember that it’s easy to pick on minority groups and those whose beliefs differ from ours.
It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and fire off loaded words.
But that doesn’t make it right.
Will you do the right thing today?
Fancy reading more about environmental issues? You might like this blog ‘The True Cost of Fast Fashion’.