‘Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’ and so after the tornado Dorothy’s world is turned from sepia to splendid technicolour.
Within 3 days of FB creating their rainbow overlay 1 billion people worldwide gave it the thumbs up and 26 million adopted that rainbow hue (http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/29/technology/facebook-rainbow-profile/).
In the office, a discourse with work colleagues about FB’s rainbow profile and whether or not people did it and why. Among the responses was ‘I couldn’t be bothered’. This comment affected me the most and the question is why. Why did it bother me and why bother? Is it just symbolic or does it have a greater, more meaningful purpose.
I am pretty comfortable in my own skin and have confidence that the people that I surround myself with support me and who I am but I couldn’t help but feel affected by this sweeping technicolour wave across my FB feed. A burst of rainbow flags across peoples profile pictures, not just within the LGBTIQ community, but also our straight friends. A visual assertation of support. A veritable ‘outing’ of themselves and their views. The ripple affect across FB (and other social media) is a powerful affirmation and adds to the visible voices out there.
We use symbols every day to provide meaning to the things we do. In a broader context we use symbols to not only identify with something but to also publicly stand by this. These symbols also serve other purposes. They are an immediate signal to those like minded that they are safe with us, they have support from us, we can identify with them. This may seem trite to some but for others they are a powerful lifeline; a means of showing them they are not alone.
If I relied purely on the discourse in the ‘popular’ media or our current political ‘leaders’ to inform me about my place in society my self-esteem would surely take a battering. These particular voices can be incredibly powerful. So, in this sense, symbols such as the rainbow flag and enabling devices, such as the FB profile, take back some of that power and place it in the hands of the individual. So that’s why I bother…
…and this is why I bother