It’s okay to be apathetic

Apathy is one of the strongest tools we have as human beings. It’s the thing that lets us turn away from the things we don’t care about, the thing that lets us answer the world’s cries for attention with a simple “meh”. These days, though, it seems like social pressure demands that we form opinions on things – not only that, but it demands that we form the right opinion, and anything less won’t suffice. Now, I’m not saying that this applies in every situation, and you obviously won’t be horribly dogpiled for saying you prefer a certain type of sandwich (at least, I’d hope not), but there’s a value to feeling apathetic that most people overlook these days.

I don’t like latching on to modern trends, but I’m going to bring up something that you’re probably all familiar with: the new Captain Marvel film. The amount of controversy and deep-rooted opinions that formed around it like a crusty shell of dry toothpaste made it almost impossible to approach it as a film. No matter what you said, it would come across as some kind of political statement. Or, as another example, there’s the new Star Wars film, which is still heavily woven into all kinds of gender-related politics.  The amount of “if you like X, you’re Y” statements floating around these films meant that they became

Whenever somebody asks me about these films, I respond with the most honest answer I can. I don’t care.

I’ve never been that much of a Star Wars fan (although I have to admit, the Star Wars Battlefront games kept young me entertained for hours) and I only really notice comics exist when I want to laugh at Rob Liefeld’s infamously awkward cover art, so I have no desire to watch these films. It’s not that I don’t care about the politics involved since they had an important place in modern politics as a whole (for better or for worse), but I honestly couldn’t give a damn about actually seeing them for myself. I had the same reaction to Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians and almost everything else that’s been praised or criticised worldwide under a political lens. In my eyes, they don’t satisfy me and they don’t anger me: they simply exist.

I’m the same way about religion, honestly. I used to be an atheist, but that has its own brand of political meanings that you can’t separate yourself from. As soon as I came across the term “apatheist”, I slapped that label on my chest like a false tattoo, because I simply don’t care whether or not God even exists. If you believe in him, sure, fine, I won’t stop you. Maybe you’re completely right. I just don’t have any desire to find out, and even if we had proof that he existed, I don’t think my life would change all that much.

People these days seem to forget that we’re allowed to not care about things, especially things that we wouldn’t care about even if there wasn’t a controversy. Being able to turn away and say “I don’t care” is one of the most powerful moves we can make, and it’s getting less and less common in favour of weak attempts to combine two mutually exclusive opinions. If you feel apathy towards a piece of media, an event or a political occurrence that doesn’t have any impact on you, that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. We can’t die on every hill.

Take, for example, those TV ads about starving children in Africa, Yemen and the like. It’s a horrible, horrible reality to face, and it’s even worse that these things are happening, but… realistically, not everybody is going to care about those children, and that’s fine. Maybe I sound like I’m being an awful person, but that’s just how reality works, and I’m not going to pretend that it’s necessarily a good thing. What I am going to say is that, for the average person, there’s too much happening to care about it all.

For me, the potential outcomes of Brexit are at the top of the “worry pile” – not because I hold a stance on one side or the other, but because I don’t know what’ll happen. I can only worry about so many things, and I’d rather put my country, my job and my relationship before a comic book movie of a superhero I’ve never cared about. Some people (such as a specific internet comedian who I won’t name) try to please both sides, and all that does it make you look weak to the very people you want to appease. If somebody asks you “Coke or Pepsi?”, answering “I don’t care” is very different from telling them that you like to buy both so you can mix them.

So, please, the next time somebody asks you to take a side in a conflict that doesn’t matter to you, be honest with them. Tell them that you don’t care, or that it doesn’t bother you. Maybe it’ll upset them, and maybe they’ll try to aggressively persuade you that their stance is the right one, but you should be the only person who can make that final say. It’s easy to get swept up in the chaos and fight for something that, when the dust settles, you’ll once again completely ignore.

It’s okay to feel apathy. We all do sometimes.

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