When I was 18 I almost gave my dad a heart attack.
It was my first chance I to vote and I skipped it. I argued that I didn’t have any “good choice,” which I now realize was probably the stupidest choice.
Born in Romania, I am part of the first generation raised exclusively in a democratic political system. Like most of my peers, I just thought that all my rights are a given, forgetting how hard people fought for those rights.
My dad told me, “Very well my son, that’s so smart of you. It’s fine that stupid people fought and died for your rights so you can just take a piss on that.”
I was ashamed. It was the first time I could vote, and the last time I didn’t.
I liked to think that my generation is more involved and aware. We go to protests, speak our minds, fight for our dreams, and all that jazz.
Unfortunately, I am reminded more often than I would like to that most of those reactions are just fashion for most people.
It’s fashionable to speak out (on social media).
It’s fashionable to fight for human rights (on social media).
It’s fashionable to express discontent when we’re being marginalized (on social media).
It’s fashionable to show emotions and support for people in need (on social media).
It’s fashionable to be charitable (on social media).
Who cares what you think about laws, politicians, natural disasters, if you just post about it?! If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the people elected. If you don’t help someone in need, you can’t be judgmental about other people not helping. If you don’t give to charity, you can’t judge people based on how much money they spend.
I’ve always seen myself as an Oscar Wilde character, deeply superficial. I am capable of deep thought and introspection. I enjoy art, history, and anthropology and I actually like reading.
But at the same time you will see me spending eight hours on guccci.com, talking for days about some pair of shoes, or rewatching – for the third time – some cheesy sitcom.
I am all that, but I am also aware. I like dreaming and sometimes I live in my own world. But when things get real, I have to get real too. We think that we deserve our rights, but we must not forget that we have them because someone fought for them.
It’s disappointing to see how people only fight the fight on social media, how courage is something everybody has behind a screen, how we defend ourselves and others only on a wall, but stay completely silent when violence and injustice happen in front of our faces.
Stop being fake, and just BE the person you so relentlessly work to APPEAR to be. After all, our souls have to look good too.
A citizen of the world
Răzvan Firea is a model, fashion designer and creator of the label Le Petit Indigent.