• Category: News
  • Date: Jun 09, 2022
By Rebecca Achieng Ajulu Bushell
  • Written from: London, UK
  • Keywords:

To share or to sneer?

I’m not the kind of person who says ‘hi friends’, I’m the kind of person who sneers at people who say hi friends; really, at almost everything born out of our contemporary home on the internet, incessant sharing. That was before I met Shopé. I’ve since learnt something I always knew but never wanted to accept. Sneering probably won’t get me very far. Not that that’s the point. Getting far.
The point is moreso unpicking the tension between integrity and Instagram: to earn and to go to bed feeling good about the work you’re doing, what it says about you, how you talk about it, how you share about it. It's all gotten pretty complex, and so, how we navigate this complexity has become work itself, right? Let’s call it critical-insta-examination, digital self-reflection, or, the lost art of sneering.
I love to work, all the kinds of work. I’m an Aries, I’ll make a competition out of loading the dishwasher. I want to be the best sister, daughter, friend, partner, boss, activist, consultant, artist, filmmaker, writer that I can.
I’m putting in work; but historically, I haven’t really liked to talk about it, and I don’t know if that has more to do with the way I am, or how much I set myself up in opposition to those who did.
So, getting back to the sneering. If everything is part of our image, our image is part of our job and part of our job is online, how do we delineate what parts of our work should be shared (in service of our image, healthy celebration, and probably also our paycheck) from that which, once shared, becomes something altogether different. 
Something that feels like a hopeless commodification of the parts of ourselves that should be sacred, a see-me competition, a love-me competition, a grotesque climbing to the top of a hill that could crumble at any moment, because it’s not of our own making. A hill that once conquered, leaves you not with a sense of accomplishment but a sense of longing. For the self you left at the bottom. And for the fact the hill was never really there in the first place.
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Quick visual break for some clothes, at Shope's request. I dislike fuss, shop infrequently, and when I do, hunt rabidly for primary vintage pieces (as opposed to secondary, or tertiary - conversation for another time) that are “just right”. 
I think, conveniently, the reason I love to sneer is because it reminds me to sneer at myself; to ask, why are you taking this picture, why are you taking up this space, is this your narrative, your fight, what are you doing, don’t say that, really don’t, that’s seriously what you’re going to type, don’t share that, look just be quiet now. I know this sounds exhausting (I am exhausting) but it also helps me think. It helps me ask questions like ‘do I really believe in this or am I just trying to join in?’, ‘do you just like what sharing this says about you?’ And to tell myself things like ‘your socio-economic background should really preclude you from weighing in on this one.’ Work is hard. There are lots of parts of my life that I won’t share today, my political activism for one, my relationships, volunteering. Maybe they’re marketable, monetizable, and maybe they would help my image, maybe someday I’ll change my mind about this too. 
I’m not saying we should make work out of deciding whether or not to post that ootd. It’s also political. TAKE. THAT. SELFIE. But I am saying when it comes to thinking about sharing our work (and I mean sharing all work, housework, mothers work, political work, emotional work, caring work, coming out work, the list, really, is endless) we have to add ‘deciding whether or not it passes the sneer test’ to the list.
Share what you want, say what you want about what you do (every second of the day), no one's going to be mean about it anymore (well not really), everyone’s just going to keep on sharing. 
I’m not advocating for a digital world of zero self-promotion, image building, or Instagram activism. That’s neither necessary nor realistic. But I am saying, let’s put a different kind of lens onto our thinking about what we share of our work and why, (is it always good for us? And on those occasions when it is in fact meant to be, is it actually helping anyone?), how we find peace in the space between Instagram and interiority, and why silence in the face of injustice isn’t always a bad thing. That quote is often wrongly attributed to MLK, who offered up a more religious variation on the theme. But my favourite quote of his is this “life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” 
More work needed.