Don’t be fooled by social media – wealth and leadership are not always loud.
Likely the most powerful lesson in this is that, throughout Kaepernick’s two year journey defending his right to peacefully protest, he has remained notably quiet – granting few interviews and, rather, using twitter and other social media platforms (mostly retweets) and the occasional staged public appearance. Yet, he has become one of the most influential athletes of our generation. GQ editors even noted that Kaepernick “has grown wise to the power of silence”. Kaepernick’s resillance and silence has remained even as he stays in the public spotlight – becoming unemployed and launching a formal grievance against the NFL after not having his contract renewed (even though he has a track record of performance success).
This sticks with me because – as an extroverted introvert, and bleeding heart empath (special shout out to my therapist lol) – I am easily distracted by the squeaky wheel and sometimes too easily bruised by others’ criticism. I have had to learn to listen to and trust my own voice – and to remain steady in my convictions as I navigate my life forward and intentionally. I have noticed in my own interpersonal network, on social media and even in professional spaces, there are people who communicate in loud, aggressive and dominant manners (which are only amplified through social media algorithms, mass media agenda setting, and group think). When defending your own viewpoints or choosing to participate in a group dialogue, these boisterous communication styles can give the false impression of expertise, truth, and power. But that is not always the case.
In his book, the Death of Expertise, Tom Nichols’ explains:
“Technology and increasing levels of education have exposed people to more information than ever before. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.”
Kaepernick’s journey (and the corporate brands that support him) send a message that our culture needs: showing humility and quiet activism are also characteristics of strength. Wealth, leadership and activism are not always loud.
Thank you, Nike.