I love soapboxes. I have plenty of them. That’s partly why I started a blog, because no one wants to hear them anymore, so I take to the Internet with my Queen of the World opinions.
But, being such an opinionated person has its disadvantages. It’s exhausting to be right all the time, and to know what every one else should do or think. And then, what’s worse, is that such people frequently have their own ideas, and don’t always succumb to the truth that you so plainly see. And the responsibility to save everyone from their delusional thinking..well it’s hard to get any sleep at night. Soapboxes. Do you have them? If so, where are you in the Life Cycle of a Soapbox?
Stage 1: Introduction
In this stage you are introduced to a new idea. You have not quite agreed on it, but you are open to it. You listen to an Evangelist (see stage 3) and bring up any objections. Depending on who introduced you to the idea, and how highly you think of that person, you may progress very quickly to stage 2. A highly regarded person trumps all encounters and will move you directly to stage 2. Otherwise it will require multiple similar encounters to move to stage 2. If after 3 encounters, you do not move to stage 2, you will move directly to Stage 7– the Anti-Soap.
Stage 2: Immersion
This is where you are totally obsessed with the topic. Here you will do copious amounts of Internet research, and make new friends solely based on your newfound soapbox. Your evangelist may become a mentor, who will help fuel your fires of passion. You may join Internet communities, and devour books, websites and podcasts on the subject. Your new friends, both in person and online will circulate infromation, links and DVD’s. You will sign up for email lists, and may even pay for memberships, licenses, or subscriptions. Slowly, you begin to reject any contrary opinions to your newfound topic. This is how you know you are ready for stage 3.
Stage 3: Evangelism
This is the most visible stage, and to a non adherent, the most annoying. You are an expert now, and passionately engaged. Anytime the topic opens up in a conversation, you swoop in with your knowledge and dominate the conversation. Whenever certain keywords come up and you are around, your friends groan because they know what’s coming.
You knock down any objections, frequently forming personal judgments against naysayers. As an evangelist, it is your goal to make new converts. You are set to start off any willing soul onto stage 1, armed with websites, articles, books, and documentaries, all of which you willingly offer to lend, link or Email. At social events, you can be frequently found in a corner with someone–doing all the talking.
Your Facebook timeline is full of memes and articles on your soapbox and people start to unfollow you because you fill their news feeds full of impassioned rants. You may even take it personally when someone disagrees with you or doesn’t feel as strongly. Your friends describe you as, “really into that whole thing.”
Stage 4: activism (optional)
This stage is an optional extension of stage 3. You may begin to take action on your pet cause. This could be anything ranging from creating or hanging out an Internet forum, to creating or joining an organization. You still continue on stage 3 activities.
Stage 5: The Cooling
Here, you have met quite a few people who think like you, believe like you, and act like you. It’s boring. Everyone is working for the same cause, and while fighting for it, you keep hearing the valid contrary arguments. You start to understand the opposition.
Besides, all the experts you encountered in stage 2, are starting to develop chinks in their armor. This one’s starting to go way off into left field, and that one hasn’t had anything new to say since their last book and this other one is is starting to come off like an annoying blowhard. You stick to their earlier work, and begin to recommend resources, “with reservations.” You unsubscribe from certain mailing lists, although you continue to follow some things.
If you were involved in activist activities, your attendance starts to wane, although you will still recommend them to people in earlier stages. You will say things like, “Well, I’m not going to go, but it’s good stuff. You should definitely go if you have never been to one of those meetings.”
If you held leadership positions, you will resign, citing innocuous reasons like work or family. You will publicly announce that you will still remain committed to the cause and the work of the organization and your heart will remain with them. You pledge that you will stay “around,” but you will not do this. For a while, you will continue to support the cause in private. But soon your misgivings come out.
You know you are ready for stage 6, when you are annoyed by a stage 3 evangelist. How do they live with all that outrage? It’s so exhausting, you think.
Stage 6: The Lifestylist
You have boiled your soapbox down to a few life principles. You no longer see the need to indoctrinate anyone else, as there are plenty of valid reasons to believe differently and you respect that. You no longer read any material on the soapbox as you have integrated what you can into your life. And no one is really saying anything new anyway. If a stage 1 or 2 person asks you about the soapbox, you can’t really explain it, because you don’t really remember all the details anymore. You may say something generic like, “I read a bunch of stuff about it a while back, and I just don’t eat meat anymore. But whatever you want to do, it doesn’t bother me.”
You will shut down a Stage 3 evangelist, chiding them toward tolerance and moderation, or you will simply walk away from their pitch. You may even violate your own rules from time to time, and that leads you to stage 7.
Stage 7: Death of the Soapbox, or the Full Circle Anti-Soap
After establishing your own rules for living, you find that without your former passion behind them, they are confining. You also know several people that do just as well living the opposite way, and you see how it works. You also have seen where your old soapbox is seriously flawed. While you may keep one or two ideas from your soapbox days, now you disbelieve the whole of it. You may mock adherents, and have the knowledge to beat them at their own game. Depending on how severe the case is, Stage 7 maybe be stage 1 of an Anti-Soapbox. Otherwise, this is the death of the soapbox.