the art of semantic usefulness

2 min readMar 2, 2023

in the age of instagram infographics, and tired jokes about posts from @feminist or @impact or some other procedurally generated petty-bourgeois bullshit, it feels like an open goal to deride the whole phenomenon. i still have every single petition eradicated from my twitter feed. through the current phase of «activist-posting» though, and an unfettered temptation to give into making a snarky tweet about an assorted smattering of news stories, i finally realised why so many of our well-intentioned peers went down this route: to feel useful.

i find nihilism a deeply inane philosophy to adhere to, with its perennial misanthropy being both boring and borne out of the innate human desire to seem both a little cooler than everyone, but also more approachable. nihilists attempt this with the breaking of a social more, that ‘people are good actually’. this is a dumb more to want to break though, because most people are good, actually! however, in writing this article, i find that my attitude to the nebulous concept of «raising awareness» tows the line too close between stoicism and nihilism. this might be a shock to you, dear reader, but i am not a perfect person!

in me, and probably in everyone, there is the same functional component that causes both this article, and clasped-fist emojis, to be shared to the masses: we like to feel useful. no matter the usefulness, either through the medium of an instagram story, or through writing an article about the concept, thinking that one is useless and has little effect on the minutiae of the world is both deeply depressing, cringe, and Not True. even through my annoyance and endless grumbles that the responsibility to actually save the planet has been foisted onto us by mega-corporations (which i wrote about here), i have to admit that i admire people’s belief in the world getting better. i wish i were an acolyte of the winds of change as so many are. i don’t have the courage nor temerity to do that, though! if navigating the treacherous waters of online activism and general doomerism, i think we’d all rather our boats hold strong against the sea, than be swept by the current.