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Pals Over Politics: Why your friendships elicit greater consciousness than your Twitter feed

Last night I had dinner with one of my most long-standing pals. We made friends on the school bus at the wise old age of ten, in New Zealand. She was lumbering around a violin case and me, a flute (careers neither of us did pursue). We formed a mutual obsession with Joey and Dawson's relationship and the ever changing nail colour of the month. And now on the other side of the world, through many relationship evolutions and changing tastes, I'm just as excited to have our dinner dates as I was our first play dates.

Last night was particularly special though as we philosophised over a bottle of wine about social change. Without the other knowing, we have both elected this year to change our attitudes to the way we consume. Connie's focus is on purchasing more fashion and wardrobe items from companies that are promoting fair working environments. (For inspiration see here and here).

Mine is a more literal focus on consumption- my attitudes toward purchasing food and a general increased consciousness for less waste (purchasing unpackaged fresh produce, stepping away from the unethical farming industry and generally transitioning to a more vegetarian diet etc).

(Connie is actually a food and dining knowledge maestro so if you're into less culinary waste and using the entire animal for culinary affairs, she is queen of all things offal and you should visit her here)

A bottle of red wine and new found enthusiasm for our 2017 (and hopefully beyond!) focuses, our dinner date was a refreshing, challenging and candid affair.

Which was welcome during a time that BBC seems to alert my phone in increasing measure about our daunting transition into a new Trumpian Brexit era.

As I see (or feel) it, we've never been more saturated by controversial and dividing media announcements. And it's everywhere. It's in my news feed, it’s on the radio, it's throughout my Twitter, it's all over my Facebook, it's in most conversation.

By way of example, the Syrian refugee crisis is overwhelming at best. But a pal I met a few years ago decided she could help. Long term, these refugees need a home. They need an identity, a community and a government regime that will welcome all of the above. But right now they need socks. Socks and underwear and hats and scarves - it is winter and it is wet, they need these things and they need them now. So her call for donations of these items was responded to by 96 'Winter Warmer packages' from pals (my sister and I included, because hell yes is that something that is so easy to engage with) that are now their way to Greece. So simple, so needed and enabled by real life friends responding to a call on social media.

The underlying point that I'm trying to arrive at I suppose, is that while regurgitated political rhetoric - through both repetition and its shock value- has its impact. It does shock me, it upsets me and true, it moves me but in a way that also disempowers me. It is so high level and impersonal that it is beyond my realm of meaningful engagement. It's having pals like Connie and Izzy that both challenge and enable me to develop an ethical consciousness and make better decisions about the things and attitudes that I can change. And those changes often start with my attitude; not with the scrutiny of others' choices or dictating how they make them.

Pals are easy to hold accountable, easier to rally together and a source of inspiration for the moments that we're only human. So while I utterly respect people's choice to use social media to leverage political position and awareness, I'll be using my social network to invest in my friendships- the relationships I have in my very real, very (fortunate) normal life to grow a better consciousness that hopefully fosters a real kind of change.

All power to the rally holders, the protestors, the enablers, the honest, human people that are out there doing just that. I want to be more like you.

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