“It’s not about me.”
That’s from a tweet by climate change activist Greta Thunberg today, and it’s absolutely true. It’s as true as anything she has ever said.
At the start of a new year, it’s a surprisingly refreshing attitude from the Time person of the year and a well-known advocate for the global crisis, at only 17-years-old.
The post arrived after the musician Meatloaf called out the activist as bring “brainwashed” in an article that ran in the Daily Mail over the weekend.
"She has been brainwashed into thinking that there is climate change, and there isn't," he said. "She hasn't done anything wrong, but she's been forced into thinking that what she is saying is true."
Thunberg responded with this tweet in her defense:
It’s not about Meatloaf.— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) January 6, 2020
It’s not about me.
It’s not about what some people call me.
It’s not about left or right.
It’s all about scientific facts.
And that we’re not aware of the situation.
Unless we start to focus everything on this, our targets will soon be out of reach. https://t.co/UwyoSnLiK2
That’s a bold post because it is a departure from what we’ve seen from high-profile figures in the past, who are constantly claiming it is all about them.
Thunberg now has almost four million followers but is a regular figure on talk shows, news programs, and on social media.
What’s refreshing is to take a step back from the celebrity status and point back to the issue she is championing, and to also disarm detractors by relaying actual scientific facts. The chart she posted is quite alarming.
And say what you will about climate change, there is widespread scientific support for ozone level deletion. Whether it requires all of us “to focus everything” on the issue (leaving out world poverty and hunger, for example) is an open question.
However, it’s commendable that someone on social media finally (finally) has tried to reorient the conversation back to the actual topic rather than constant trolling and name-calling.
In 2020, social media has a chance to evolve. Over the last few years, it has become a haven for trolls who like to point out what they don’t like. As J.J. Abrams so aptly said recently, we have decided that the only opinion that matters is our own. “We live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage. There’s an M.O. where ‘it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy'. It’s a crazy thing that there’s such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion,” he said.
The call to action here? It’s to start seeing social media as a tool for change and not a tool for outrage and dissension, as a way to finally employ this technology to help spread information instead of disinformation.
Too often, social media lives and breathes on the consumption of divisiveness. And, it’s hungry. When you can be more divisive than the next poster, you win.
It doesn’t have to work that way. In 2020, will it change?