Writing is a solitary act. Even if you are a member of a writing community or a writing group, you probably write by yourself. It is not an easy task to block out the noise of the world and to focus on the voice(s) in your head as you try to capture your thoughts for others to read. One misplaced word or awkward syntax and your meaning can be misconstrued.
The beauty of a conversation is that you can, at least, interject and say, “I didn’t mean it that way.” Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be talking to each other anymore. Our dialogues have become monologues and soliloquies. It doesn’t matter if someone else is listening; it only matters if I get to say what I want to say.
This political moment is a constant reminder that language is not neutral. Our written words and our rhetoric carry meaning and with the tap of the Enter button, our thoughts go from private insights to public fodder. This week reminded me and I suspect other creative spirits that privilege is real. Racial privilege, gender privilege, linguistic privilege, education privilege, nationality privilege are not just abstract theories. Conversations that were once restricted to ivory towers and academic journals are playing out on mainstream blog sites and social media.
And yet, despite the proliferation of monologuing – I have read many valiant and persuasive posts – the divide seems only to grow.
We are disconnected.
Recently a group of powerful women in the entertainment industry gathered to discuss gender and Hollywood.Veteran actresses such as Shirley McClain and Alfre Woodard sat down with Selma Hayek, Jessica Williams and others.
This table of women represented an intersection of creativity, success, and diversity that is rare to see. The conversation grew intense, and even contentious, as the women explored race, gender, and politics. They grappled with misunderstandings, misgivings, and even misconceptions. There were more questions asked than answered. And while the attendees of that luncheon, and the readers of the article, may walk away with a sense of befuddlement, the process of engagement is sometimes more important than the outcome.
As freelancers, we know that asking questions is the first step to finding solutions. We consistently work with a rainbow of clients and collaborators, all hailing from different industries, geographic locations, levels of education, ethnic backgrounds and past experiences. It’s in our job description to be flexible and open-minded – in many ways, we’re chameleons. But our value-add is that we help our clients make sense of the world and present new ways for their business to function within it.
A client meeting might not be the moment to raise social issues, but in working with people with different views, we create shared experiences. We become a little less strange to one another, a little less other, and start to open the doors to new perspectives. Labor has always gone hand in hand with social movements – when the way we work changes, the way we experience the world changes. Let us use our unique role as the pioneers of the future of work to build a new vision that meets the needs of a changing world and all the people in it.