What I see are people practising protesting for the big one. It’s just that the big one is an unknown, or not clearly seen, or unthinkable.
One thing that social media has done is to enable people to coordinate protests and protesters. There are plenty of things to protest about, of course. And there are many protests that make me think that people are begging for something to protest about.
Take what happened yesterday in London. People were protesting against a Winston Churchill themed cafe, encouraging customers to boycott the place because it glorifies Churchill, a man the protesters see as an imperialist and a racist.
I don’t criticise people for protesting about Winston Churchill. I know there are some things about him that don’t represent the best of humanity. But come on – did he not do anything worthy of more positive consideration?
The world is full of serious here-and-now issues worthy of protest. And each dubious protest clouds the issue for the issues that are worth protesting about.
The thing is though that I see it as people practising protesting for the big one. I think they are practising getting good at protesting. It’s not that they don’t think the things they protest about are significant or meaningful. It’s just that they are often or usually, not the big picture. They are scraps of something incompletely defined.
I imagine there will come a time when the big picture emerges and the protesters find themselves in a mass movement of protest.
As and when that time comes, the protesters will be quite good at protesting because they have been practising for quite a while.