“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” –– Angela Davis

Resources that will help you imagine a world without police.

Author: Jessica Murdoch

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THIS!!!! Probably one of the most realest statements ever. We often ask people to imagine a world without crime or violence, and people immediately respond, “that’s impossible… that will never happen.” Peoples’ imaginations are so limited by their realties that they are unable to imagine a better world. To all the Youth, never take NO for an answer. Keep imagining and keep fighting for a just society! ✊🏽 ••• “The goal of oppressors is to limit your imagination about what is possible without them, so you might never imagine more for yourself & the world you live in. Imagine something better. Get curious about what it actually takes to make it happen. Then fight for it every day.” – @smashfizzle

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There are a lot of people asking us to imagine a different world right now. It may seem kind of scary. Or confusing. And I bet you’re seeing a lot of words that are new to you, with a lot of conflicting definitions and explanations.

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🙂 #defundthepolice

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I have seen so many different explanations about what “defund” and “abolish” and “disband” mean. Out in the wild (and by that, I mean on social media) they seem to be used interchangeably, or with a lack of understanding about what they really refer to – particularly when they are being criticised.

Even people in good faith may have differing ideas.

That’s why it helps to read widely and broadly. Yes, this includes source material – not just interpretations of this material written into an easily digestible graphic (even though they can be a helpful starting point).

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RESOURCES: link in bio – ACTION: link in bio to divest in police and invest in black communities. ty @mvmnt4blklives – I appreciate the folks who have let me know that my use of “Black bodies” in the 6th slide can be harmful and I apologize for that. While using that language to highlight the state’s dehumanization of Black people, I understand that I must do better in choosing my words when describing experiences that aren’t my own. – I’m currently receiving 1000’s of notifications a day from this post so I ask for understanding if it takes me a minute to get back to you in my DMs or I miss a message all together. – thx @glenfeezy and @mickmagger for the second set of eyes 👀🙏👀 – I’m staying out of the comments, gotta make space for my life offline. Take this opportunity to do your own research (link in bioooo) if you have questions on content or concepts. Please use this comment thread as an opportunity to practice compassion, especially for BIPOC folks. Stop, Observe, Care, Act 💜☮️💜 I’m not naive, I’ve been online, but it doesn’t hurt to ask 🙃 – Please repost at will, I don’t care if I’m credited, but please have sources on hand. #blacklivesmatter #defundthepolice #actionrecipe

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If I’m honest, trying to explain these issues is not what this piece is about. I’m not going to unpack the issues underscoring this topic, such as the history of police, police violence or transformative justice. Nor am I going to clarify how these narratives apply to the current #BlackLivesMatter movements around the world. That is being done regularly and much more effectively by many knowledgeable folks all over the internet (like the examples throughout this piece).

I am not an expert. I am just a person who is listening to so many people saying the system is broken, that it has been broken for a very long time.

This piece is for those of you who see that there is something not right with the current system, but at this stage, may not see how there can be any other options. Or perhaps, for those who can’t see how alternative options could possibly be implemented.

Honestly, that’s mostly where I am.

I can see that we have a problem, but I’m not sure that I understand how we’re going to go about fixing it.

If you are already vehemently opposed to the idea of defunding the police, this piece may not persuade you that we should be doing otherwise. I still encourage you to check out some of these resources, to make sure that you really understand what people are fighting for. This is simply a collection of resources I amworking through, in order to get my head around these ideas. If you are somewhere along the same path as me, this collection might be of use to you too.

I must note that as a white person, it’s really important for me to be careful and considered in the way I post about this type of political action. Bumbling into a conversation that we might be brand new to, and assuming we automatically have something original or useful to share is a trap. I certainly don’t want to place my voice at the centre of this conversation.

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**Edit: In place of sharing/following my account, please amplify the work of Black anti-racist educators. The best people to share about anti-racism work will always be those who have been directly oppressed by racism. You can find a list of incredible folx on the last slide, on top of countless others you will encounter through engaging in this work. I am complicit. I made the choice to include a white author’s quote in this post rather than amplify the words of Black leaders speaking from lived experience. This is a prime example of centering whiteness. I will work harder to center Black voices moving forward.** . . . I’ve had a number of conversations with white friends recently about the role of social media and whether it is helpful or hurtful to post about racism right now. I fear my whiteness and privilege will cloud my judgment. I fear centering my own whiteness. I fear getting things wrong. But I also know that sitting in my own fear is doing nothing to confront systemic racism. It continues the cycle of prioritizing my own white comfort over the life-and-death realities facing Black Americans and communities of colors. Here is my current understanding of my role as a white woman when posting to social media: 1. My silence and the silence of other white Americans is deafening. It is more important to speak out than to say nothing at all 2. Only speaking out online while taking no other actions is core to the problem. It plays a role in why “progressive” white women are one of the largest barriers to real change 3. If my words cause pain to Black individuals and other people of color, I will work like hell to learn, repair the damage and do better next time 4. If my words hurt white feelings, I am okay with that I am including a list of questions I ask myself as a white person before posting to social media. What would you add? Where did I miss the mark? . . . . #blacklivesmatter #whiteness #whitefragility #antiracist #amlearning #kidlit

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Mariame Kaba is the abolitionist whose work first brought me to the concepts of transformative and restorative justice. (Buy her books, do your own work.) It’s still difficult sometimes to imagine how it could work—no, to imagine WHEN it could work, when will those in power (who are armed to the teeth) will see the direct connections between underfunding things that keep people fed, housed, educated, healthy, happy—and the perceived necessity of murderous police, a “justice system” that isn’t actually just (and the systemic aspect merely chews people up and spits them out—if they’re lucky), and a brutal prison industrial complex that is slavery dressed up as something deserved. But since the demonstrations started, I’ve felt more hope that the WHEN will happen. It might not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen if we all keep working towards it. Sustained effort that recognizes individual limits is what will make it happen. Ask yourself Mariame’s questions, and really reflect on the consequences of your actions. (That last bit is a reminder to myself first and foremost; the outrage spirals have been at an all-time peak for me for weeks-months-years). #mariamekaba #transformativejustice #blacklivesmatter #abolishpolice #defundspd #defundALLcops

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Many of us already lead a life largely free of police presence. This is due to the privilege of being white and having no previous offences to our names.

For many others, the world is very strikingly different.

Defunding the police would mean money would be directed to community services that could get to the root of numerous problems.

Many people are harmed by the current system. Black people and other people of colour, members of the LGBTQI+ community, refugees, people who are homeless or experiencing mental illness, sex workers, disabled people, and women in general can all be members of groups that experience unequal treatment. The system functions to give many of us the illusion of safety. But at what cost?

It is actively harming and killing many people and simply not working for many more – instead, it is upholding harmful systems of oppression.

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non-Black people can’t let fictions of ‘safety’ predicated on anti-Black violence limit our demands or our imagining. the price for the ‘safety’ we are invoking, the safety of togay, is too high. . [[set of Tweets by Caleb: 1. Seeing too many other non-Black people invoke specters of 'safety' as a response to abolition. With an understanding that Black folks, along with the rest of us, are unsafe NOW, we need to understand that the 'safety' we feel is predicated on a genocide of our Black relatives. 2. This is a price too high to pay for fantasies of safety, ESPECIALLY when anti-Black violence is carried out PRECISELY FOR our imagined 'safety'. Black liberation requires us to give up a lot BECAUSE so much of our 'safety,' among other affects, requires anti-Black violence. 3. We CAN'T need to be safe. We need to be brave, risky, creative &, above all, act & dream from a place of love and collective liberation, rather than a colonized & white supremacist fantasy of 'safety,' that too often means the murder & caging of our Black and Indigenous relatives]]

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Police may provide me with the perception that I’m safer, but is that truly more important than the active harm others are subjected to? Additionally, do the current systems actually keep us safe in the way we perceive? One of the most common arguments against police defunding is what about the murderers and rapists?

Professor Alex Vitale has spoken about how policing has become so integrated into the rest of our lives, and why he believes reforming the police systems are not enough to make change.

In an interview, when asked about serial rapists and murderers, his response is pretty straight-forward. “Of course I’m worried [about serial rapists and murderers]. That’s the whole point of this movement. We’re worried that we’re not doing a good job of catching murderers and rapists now. We need something that’s better.

Vitale acknowledges that we may not know exactly what these strategies will look like. But looking at the root of the causes of this behaviour and committing to early intervention would a be much more effective way of with dealing with issues – especially those that stem from mental health crises and domestic violence cases. “Using guns and tasers is not the only way to deal with someone who is acting out. Often when we introduce someone with a badge and gun, we further destabilise the situation.”

In the same interview, Kimberly Foster points out that in domestic violence situations, victims often try to follow the correct procedures, but cannot be kept safe. “Police don’t prevent violence. It might postpone violence. It might postpone harm, but it is not really meaningfully intervening in the cycle that causes people to be killed.”

I don’t have all the answers for a better way. But I do believe they are out there. The fact is, the current system is actively harming and killing too many, and that’s reason enough for us to be actively looking for a better alternative. I want people to reach a place where they can acknowledge the current system is not working, and accept that not only is something better possible, but that people have already started to formulate these alternative ideas.

Just-cos-this-is-how-its-always-been isn’t a valid reason to uphold oppressive, harmful systems. Once, not so long ago, slaveholders believed the status quo was right. Lawmakers wouldn’t allow women or people of colour to vote. Different sexual and gender identities were, and largely still are, marginalised. All of these systems were created as ideas and they can, and have been, dismantled.

Many of us hear “abolish the police” and seem to think this is a new idea. The truth is, this is not a new concept. People have been researching and theorising alternatives to these current systems for a long time.

What it could look like:

“Abolition means not just the closing of prisons but the presence, instead, of vital systems of support that many communities lack.” —Ruth Wilson Gilmore. / via @mpd_150

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Here's something a little different for Friday. I've been studying, writing about, and practicing transformative justice for years. After a year of writing weekly photo essays, almost a third of them are about accountability. The idea of writing another one during this encouraging and overwhelming month was really challenging to me. So, to help keep my morale up, I decided to write about police and prisons in past tense, as if they had already been abolished. Political non fiction is a heavy practice, so It was refreshing to lean into the imagination that abolition requires. I'm still studying, learning from other abolitionists, and researching other community strategies to help me understand what comes next. More writings on abolition are coming next month. Until then, hopefully this piece gives you a morale boost as you navigate this flexible and changing moment. I have a special announcement coming later today! 💫💖💫💙💫💜💫 [ID in alt text] #SpeculativePolitics #PrisonAbolition #PoliceAbolition #TransformativeJustice #RestorativeJustice #DisabilityJustice #BlackTransLivesMatter #AfroFuturism #Anarchism #Interdependence #HarmonizersNotLeaders #CollectiveCare #EstelleEllison #AbolishTime

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I'm not asking you to agree with me. I just want to walk you through my thinking. Like you, I was hearing a ton about #defundthepolice and #abolishthepolice over the last two weeks, and I got curious so I started reading. . I knew our police system had serious problems. I believed people when they told me about their awful encounters with law enforcement. I was fully in favor of major reforms. But it had never occured to me to question whether or not we need policing at all. I thought it was just a given; I never considered questioning that assumption. . I feel dumb about that, because once I started looking into the thinking behind those hashtags, I realized that community safety and crime prevention can come in MUCH healthier and more effective forms than we currently have. Why would I simply assume, for all these years, that having traumatic encounters with the police was just the way it is; just a part of life? . Anyway, I wrote a Twitter thread talking about this and shared it in my Stories (I also saved it in a highlight called Defund+Abolish), but several people asked me to put it in an IG post too, so that they could share it to their own stories. So that’s what this is. Swipe left to read it. . If you'd rather read the thread on Twitter (it includes lots of helpful reference links), you can find the thread link via my profile, or you can also see the thread as a blog post on #DesignMom. So, lots of options! Have you done any reading about what it could look like to defund the police and use those funds for things like housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, and funding education? Have you gone on a bit of a journey like I have? Or do you favor smaller reforms? https://twitter.com/designmom/status/1270038204754919424?s=20

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I don’t think we should dismiss something because we don’t understand it, if we haven’t actually engaged with it on a deeper level.

We should be asking questions – not in search of disingenuous gotchas, but due to a genuine willingness to engage with, think about, and consider other possibilities.

Charlene Carruthers, in conversation with Kimberly Foster, talks about how important conversations are for those who are genuinely curious and interested, rather than asking questions to just be adversarial. She says, “we have a duty to come at it in a way that’s not condescending.”

In the same conversation, Derecka Purnell acknowledges the huge shift many of us will need to make. She says recognising and affirming people’s entry points to this conversation is essential – that a lot of what we believe about what is ‘natural’ has been socialised into us. “Everything we’ve been sold on, being interwoven into this American project, we have to start calling into question.” She recognises the need to push ourselves to think differently, pointing to her own experience of feeling overwhelmed by the politics around climate change, until she did the research. “When people hear police abolition and they think ‘oh my god it’s so overwhelming’, I have felt like that about climate change. Until I read a book.

Reading through the comments on this video, there’s a fair amount of “…they’re not answering the questions!”; “I still don’t see what the alternative is supposed to be!”; “There’s no clear steps to what we have to do!” But I think they are all missing the point. I think this conversation is an example of these women talking through their ideas. They are demonstrating that there are no easy solutions, that this is an ongoing discovery of new ideas.

In another video in this series, Dr Brittney Cooper demonstrates that she is still working her way towards understanding abolition, and explicitly says, “I don’t like claiming positions that I haven’t worked my way through yet.”

As Kimberly identifies, the question of whether any of this is possible, is a big road block for many. Derecka points out that there are risks that will need to be taken and that it will take imagination and will.

I believe that if you’re looking for a simple answer, you’re not engaging effectively. People are talking about a complete change of a system here – there are no simple answers. We’re trying to shift entire mindsets as to how our whole world functions. This takes openness, and a willingness to work towards a different way of being – one that is unfamiliar for many of us.

The whole point of this conversation is to recognise there IS a problem and to be open to imagining alternatives. We’re so used to expecting a quick fix. A sound bite. An easy to digest idea. But these are not easy concepts. These are century old issues. They are complex and nuanced. We need to seek out the people who have been having these conversations, put our ego to the side and listen for a while.

If you’re not willing to go out and do the work of researching and deep learning? You probably aren’t ready to have this conversation.

We need to be willing to actively do the work.

Bookmark these links and resources.

Today, maybe start by checking out these introductions. Seek out and follow some of these people on social media. Listen. Read.

When you want to learn more, check out some of the longer articles and video resources.

If you still have more questions? Great! Check out the some of the books listed in these resources.

Changing the world is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.

I want to reiterate that it is vital to be centering Black voices (especially Black women), within my research on these topics. Most of the work and resources I’ve collected here reflect that.

If this is something that you believe is important, if you really do believe that Black lives matter, the very least we can do is read, watch and listen to what has been put out into the world for us already. Many people have put in the work to create these resources, but we can’t expect to be spoon-fed everything.

People: 

Kimberly Foster (whose voice on a whole range of concepts and ideas are worth listening to) has been doing an excellent series of videos where she is exploring a range of these ideas. Within these videos, she brings in a range of people who have been doing the work around this area for a long time – some more than 35 years!)

 

Writers, activists, academics who featured in the videos I quoted:

Dr. Brittney Cooper

Derecka Purnell 

Charlene Carruthers 

Professor Alex Vitale (his book is currently available for free download)

Mariame Kaba

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

Professor Angela Davis

Angela Davis breaks down what “defund the police” means (video)

9 Essential Angela Davis Books to Add to Your Shelf

Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Is Prison Necessary?

Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

Further reading and resources:

Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps in policing

MPD150 Resource Page

Reading Towards Abolition: A Reading List on Policing, Rebellion, and the Criminalization of Blackness

Towards the horizon of abolition: A conversation with Mariame Kaba

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I'm sure you've seen a ton of these floating around at this point, but I wanted to specifically speak to some of the literature that's available to us from writers, thinkers, and scholars of color! #abolition ⁣ ⁣ 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘮𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘶𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦!⁣ Venmo: @𝐀𝐥𝐞𝐱-𝗪𝐞𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫⁣⁣ Cashapp: $𝐥𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐜𝐨𝐧𝟗𝟏⁣ ⁣⁣ Image description: Slide 1:⁣⁣⁣ Abolition 101: A POC guide for beginners⁣ ⁣ Here's a non-exhaustive list of entry-level works by abolitionist writers and thinkers of color. Enjoy!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 2:⁣⁣⁣ #1 Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapter 2 (by Angela Davis)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In chapter 2 of Dr. Davis's seminal literature on prison abolition, she challenges us to stretch our political imagination and conceive of a world without cages.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/prisons-obsolete⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 3:⁣⁣⁣ #2 The Police Can’t Solve the Problem. They Are the Problem. (by Derecka Purnell and Marbre Stahly-Butts)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this opinion piece for the NY Times, movement lawyers Purnell and Stahly-Butts raise the alarm about reformist solutions to an innately violent system.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/police-problem⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 4:⁣⁣⁣ #3 Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (by Mariame Kaba)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Amidst global Black liberation uprisings, renowned abolitionist activist Mariame Kaba pens this piece to demystify the abolitionist roots of calls to defund the police.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/literally-abolish⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 5:⁣⁣⁣ #4 Ruth Wilson Gilmore Makes the Case for Abolition (Intercepted)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ In this episode of the Intercepted podcast, abolition scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore delivers a master class on the expansive tendrils of the carceral state.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/gilmore-intercepted⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Slide 6:⁣⁣⁣ #5 Beyond Bars: Prison Abolition Should Be the American Dream (by Reina Sultan)⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ #8toAbolition co-author Reina Sultan urges us to "dream bigger than criminalization and bondage" in this piece that synthesizes voices from abolitionist thought leaders.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ Read here: bit.ly/abolition-dream⁣⁣⁣

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WE DO NOT NEED THEM @MPD_150 @urdoingreat

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A comprehensive collection of local resources: 

aus blm allies resource sharing doc

Path to Equality

The header image for this article was photographed by our regular contributor Rachel Lloyd-Owens, and taken at Melbourne’s June Black Lives Matter rally. 

 

 

the rant: edition 2

Author: Grace Ashford

Artwork: Rachel Lloyd-Owens

Having spent more time than ever before in the comfort of our own homes (who knows what day it is anymore?), it’s safe to say that things are starting to get grizzly – if they haven’t already. 

Maybe it’s the fact that you’re at your wits end with your siblings, or the internet is trying its hardest to keep everyone in the household sane, or your S/O’s breathing is simply becoming more and more irritating. Overall, we’ve been in isolation for long haul, and more than a few pet peeves are rearing their annoying heads.

For some frustration relief, join us for the second edition of The Rant: Iso Peeves. First up, we have…

Now? We’re out here wearing the same clothes day after day (to tactfully reduce the amount of washing we have to do, duh), eating lunch at 10pm, and bathing in our natural scents. The only part of our bodies we’re regularly washing are our hands. I’m talking about the utter needlessness to shower if no one’s seeing us, aside from the people we’re sharing our space with. It’s a fool-proof, masterful plan, right? Wrong. Pretty soon, whenever you bump into your housemate in the kitchen during yet another escapade to retrieve more snacks, you realise that you’re not the only one forgoing a shower unless you really need to – and that said shower is probably feeling as neglected and untouched as a middle-aged woman in a failing marriage. 

THE STANKY HOUSEMATE

We’re all on the same page here (please tell me we are) when it comes to showering. First week in, isolation was a ‘stick to routine, stay on track!!’ vibe, which we love and stan. Second week became a ‘I deserve to relax, this is an opportunity for me time!’ moment, which we also respect. 

Invest in a household promise: an expectation of 2 days between bodily cleanses, max. That way, the place you’re sharing doesn’t slowly but surely start to mould and develop an odour worse than that of your collective armpit juices. <3 

THE INTERNET HOG

The TV show you’ve dedicated your day to is at its final episode of the season. You’re on the couch hooked; completely negligent to the hours flicking over and to your muscles twisting in the same curled position for the last six hours. Everything is coming to a climax in this final episode: the killer is almost revealed, the main character is about to have a breakthrough, that toxic boyfriend is about to get dumped – but all of a sudden, the scene freezes, and that little loading sign of death pops up. 10%, 55%, 99%… 99%… still 99%…yep. It’s that time again. Time to run downstairs and yell to your family: ‘WHO’S DOWNLOADING SOMETHING!!!’.

Poor internet, having to bear the god-awful weight of keeping its household harmony intact. Maybe go easy on it every now and then by cracking open a book. Honestly, there’s nothing like a technological detox every once in a while. 

THE ‘LETS DO ____!’ PARENT

Thank you so much, Father, not only for waking me up every single day at 10AM, but for reiterating how vital exercise is for maintaining energy and a good mood throughout isolation! I had no idea, regardless of the fact that you tell me on a daily basis! Again, despite how delightful the thought of working out sounds, no, I will not go on a casual jog with you around the block! <3 Love you though! 

And unfortunately no, Mother Dearest, as much as it may surprise you, I do not possess a desire to take up meditation OR yoga! Please, persistent parental figures, allow me to remain nestled in my bedroom, conducting my carefully constructed and well-rehearsed rotation of watching Netflix, listening to the same four albums on Spotify, and learning how to twerk. Thank you kindly. 

THE FRIDGE

I see you over there. How dare you. How dare you look so sexy and so mysterious in the corner of the kitchen, all day and all night. You’re tempting me. Tall, dark and handsome stranger, you are the very manifestation of the idea that those you love will hurt you the most. I’m sick of eating because I’m bored, but I can’t stop. You have such an allure. I’m not excited to roll out of quarantine like Violet from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory after she turns into a blueberry, but I understand that it’s a reality that can’t be fought. Acceptance will be the only road to moving forward from this matter. 

HELLO, SOCIAL MEDIA!

As you scroll mindlessly for the thirty-third time this morning, you’ll probably be inundated, again, by countless updates from multiple middle-aged/elderly Facebook users who have, all of a sudden, developed a KEEN determination for posting/sharing everything that comes up in their minds and on their feeds. 

But it’s not just the Gen X’s and Boomers…everybody’s guilty in their own way. You’re becoming very exposed to the fact that every scroll feels like hacking your way through a forest of SHARE A PHOTO OF YOUR GAME FACE followed by 6 unflattering photos of someone playing sport, and THERE WERE 4 PEOPLE IN A ROOM, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE LEFT IF YOU ENTERED THE ROOM, 5 OUT OF 5 PEOPLE WILL GET THIS WRONG! Opening Instagram is its own anxiety-inducing venture, with minute-by-minute attempts to avoid a tag in a SEE 5 DO 5 push-up challenge. NO I WON’T FUCKING DO IT GEORGIA. 

With all that being said, aside from these ‘minor’ pet peeves, our patience and diligence in keeping isolated is slowly starting to pay off. We have to hand it to ourselves – saving the world by staying the fuck at home has never been so easy for most of us.