Impact’s Labour student, Frances Ryan, finds being apathetic isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.
Giving a shit isn’t going well. Following the Jed Bartlett ‘decisions are made by those that show up’ philosophy hasn’t been working out as of late. I’ve been showing up and that doesn’t seem to be having a benefit for anyone involved…especially me. All this time the politically active have sat smugly (it felt good), but in these recent difficult times smug has turned into more depressed than satisfied. In a moment of particular darkness, I indifferently latched upon the idea that it might be time to join team Apathy. Being an ‘Apathite’ doesn’t promise happiness, but then it should avoid tragedy too. Just a nice middle-of-the-road ambivalence. Oh how that would be adequate.
The first test for someone that used to care is not going to the Labour Party conference. Luckily I’m busy contracting freshers’ flu after one minute of being in the same area of a human under nineteen, and the bugs in my brain infect liberal idealism with a (un)healthy dose of lethargy. It helps me get through the cold turkey days and resist thinking of worrying about Gordon and dreaming of slapping Dave.
So-called friends send me messages whose sole purpose is to consist of a blow by blow account of what almost got John Prescott arrested that day. A vegetarian is protesting outside the venue (the fact that it was vegetarians – possibly bottom of the extensive list of groups feeling aggrieved by Brown at present, who were the aggressors – and that they had chosen the Labour Party to target when they could have thrown a stick and hit a carnivore as soon as they left the house, only added to the feeling of longing), to which he was told to “Fuck off!” by a wandering Prezza, they say. These are the type of people who should be deleted from my phonebook if I ever find myself addicted to crack, I make a mental note.
After a few days I was doing so well at being apathetic that I forgot to care enough about the task to switch the television coverage off or ignore the paper reviews the next day. While I was busy caring about not caring, I discovered a Cabinet member had resigned so she could spend more time with her family and the Prime Minister had bought his family out so he didn’t have to resign. Stories of a wife used to support Brown and children used as an excuse to attack him were the manic ups and downs I was trying to avoid. I’ve always thought it was inappropriate for politicians to sacrifice their children to politics, and now I was beginning to put myself in the same category. I was definitely too sensitive for it all and the mood swings giving a damn bring with it suggested it was a habit I was right in trying to kick.
Regardless, I find myself pining for a rousing speech from a Miliband. Not even the good one. The boringly loyal one, with the odd job title and the funny looking head. I look to people in the street for a motivational pep talk. But no one gives me one. Apathetic people, I discover, seem to not be all about the motivation.
A few days into it and it was becoming apparent apathy wasn’t the lifestyle choice I had hoped it would be. Sure on paper it seems all lethargic fun and indifferent games, but in the cold light of day apathy doesn’t seem to translate into the carelessness it had promised. I was hoping for it to come out physically in the form of the occasional nonchalant shrug, teamed with the carefree spirit of a child or hippy. Turns out indifference isn’t so much a feeling of not caring about what is being presented to you, it’s more of a feeling of not caring for absolutely everything that is presented to you. Common re-usable phrases tend to be “that’s rubbish” and “that’ll never work”. It’s exhausting. Being miserable and finding fault in everything presented by everyone turns out to need more of a commitment than supporting something.
At the end of it all I’ve fallen on hard times. I’m back caring about life and people around me. I’d be more rational about it, but I just haven’t got the energy or motivation to be apathetic…