one’s company, a crowd’s a Crowd

by Aqeela Naqvi

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to sit on a beach and watch the sunrise, rest on the cool sand, take in the lulling melody of the waves, feel the sun’s rays gently wipe away the last vestiges of sleep from my eyes…but to do all this completely, and utterly alone. To have one experience which only your heart knows, and can appreciate for the solitude in which it was experienced. To have one secret moment, a tucked away conversation between yourself and the universe. To find company with oneself, instead of searching for it in others. I wonder if we would be happier if we had memories like this folded away in the sinews of our hearts, timeworn letters we could unfold, holding the longhand writing to our souls in times of darkness, knowing that the contents had not been trampled, overruled, judged, invaded…by any eyes but our own.

In the hyperactive social world we live in, where we share what feels like every moment of our lives with family, friends, and that person you met that one time at that place you both went to, it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate between what we do for ourselves, and what we do for others. Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid user of social media (as you can clearly see) and recognize the innumerable benefits to being able to connect with people we admire and respect for their activism and intellectuality…but I think we tend to become so drugged by social networking that our own life roles become hazy. When you can Facebook, Tweet, Instagram, (and blog) just about everything, the line between sufficiency and dependency becomes dangerously thin. When we, especially the younger generation who is being raised on such a system, begin to rely on the approval of others in order to approve of ourselves (“No one liked my picture, I’m deleting it!”), we fail to produce individuals who are able to think apart from the crowd.

It’s easy to post what your friends are saying and get re-tweeted by 50 people. It’s much harder to discuss ideas which go against the grain of the masses, when the result is your being labeled “too bold” or “too outspoken.” The labels we allow to define our lives inevitably define who we allow ourselves to become. No one who has required the approval of the masses has ever made a name for themselves in the history of the world. Whatever they were called, whatever was thrown at them, whatever the thickness of the disapproving bullet that eventually took hold in their flesh, they stood their ground. They were the ones ridiculed for stepping away from the crowd, but they are also the ones we remember. After all, “ideas are bulletproof.”

Whether they stood with a thousand, or stood alone (whether they got a thousand likes on Facebook or none at all), they were prepared to fight for their beliefs. And I believe it is this mentality, no matter how difficult, that we should all endeavor to obtain.