Today is the Day of Silence, a new initiative in New Zealand to battle things like Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The ideal behind it quoted from the site is as thus: ‘The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, name-calling and harassment in schools’ I personally have a problem with this, because though it’s goal is worthy, it’s method and execution leave something to be desired.
Silence is a worthy thing in a way, moments of silence have a purpose, a reason, the brief cessation of talking and sound to remember something regrettable and dwell on it if even just for a brief moment can be a great thing. However a Day of Silence to me represents a problem with some modern day charitable deeds, it is the act of doing purely for yourself.
There is a disturbing trend of what I would call Narcissistic Charity, which is plain to see in a thing such as this. When I say Narcissistic Charity, I am talking about the trend of doing Charity for your own image and not out of a genuine care. It is the act of being charitable then posting about how charitable you are online, in order to get those comments of “oh my god you are so nice” and for nothing more then that.
However this is not a big problem on it’s own, for though it is for a purpose that is self serving, it still ends up in charitable acts nonetheless. They will still donate to charity and well as long as they do that, it is fine. However the Day of Silence in itself destroys even this, for the only thing you do on this day is be silent. Do nothing, be completely inactive, if we were in a specific environment where talking was necessary then perhaps this would have value, but we live in a culture of texts, messages and email, where silence has practically no value. The reflection brought on by silence, doesn’t exist because of the length of a day of silence, and even if there is reflection, it quickly is replaced the next day. It is simply a day to fuel your own self ego, and make yourself feel better about how you are ‘fighting’ against LGBT discrimination, but in the process actually doing nothing at all.
If you happen to actually do things, like engage in activism, try to help those in your community, or donate, there is value in that, there is something gained in that. A day of silence has none of that though, surely being silent shows no support, surely saying something, being outspoken has more value, talking about homophobia, and transphobia and how we can stop it has more value then simple silence. Even if the silence is supposed to symbolize the ‘silencing effect of homophobic bullying’ that is just pretentious, you aren’t making a film or a game, symbolism has no point in such a movement apart from feeding your own sense of intellect. Same if this was supposed to be an ironic thing, but I doubt it is.
The day of Silence serves little practical purpose. Silence will barely be noticed, and the ones who do, are the ones who already care, even if by some miracle and entire group like a class were silent, it would still have little impact. Something like the Selfies for silence demonstrates the exact extent to which this narcissistic attitude will go, for since we can’t say what we are doing, we can at least show it, show people how ‘fantastic’ we are for committing to a very easy act, that may in reality just be done for someones own sense of ‘being a good person’ without actually having to commit anything worthwhile or god forbid do something difficult and time consuming like activism.
Though I respect the goal and the purpose of the Day of Silence, I simply find it’s methods disagreeable and valueless. I know I may be a bit too pessimistic about this, it could have an impact, and to be honest, it is better to have it, then to not have it. At least some doing this probably do genuinely care and are trying to do something in whatever way they can. They probably are not be doing it for narcissism but want to share their participation to show the LGBT community that there are many that do care. It is just that as it stands I find that the purpose is great, but the methods could be so much greater.