Last month, rumoured future princess Meghan Markle disbanded her social media accounts and closed her lifestyle website. You can see her proudly talking about her website in this Holts Muse clip. As a feminist, her descent into silence disturbed me. Transformed into yet another “princess”, whose power lies in a wave or a smile. To quote Shonda Rhimes in this week’s Scandal:
They don’t give a crap about what you’ve sacrificed to get here, every drop of blood, bead of sweat and fallen tear — they just want to turn you into a figurehead … into some princess whose only power lies in a wave or a smile.
But does joining an institution mean “shuffling off this mortal coil? And only speaking with institutional approval?
The answer appears to be “yes”.
Interestingly, judges in Canada experience a similar pressure. Once outspoken in private practice, their ascendence into the judiciary often means a sacrificing of one’s public voice. A muting of one’s self. A dulling of the critique.
This stands in contrast to the United States. Where judges have social media accounts. Which remain active. Which remain thought-provoking. Which remain civilized. Well after their appointments to the Bench. For an example, see Judge Dillard’s account here: https://twitter.com/JudgeDillard
I believe that our judges should be encouraged to connect with the public, including on social media. When done tastefully, it breathes humanity into an often sterile institution.
At one time, institutions had no choice but to speak through a unified spokesperson. But, the emergence of social media allows for judges, members of established institutions, to have their own voice. And to invite the public into an institution, too often shrouded in exclusivity.
Given social media’s power in connecting us, why should joining an institution – be it the Royals or the judiciary – mean the silencing of one’s voice? Isn’t there enough room to be both an individual and a member of some greater institution? Why all the subordination? How does this type of silence help institutions maintain their relevancy?
(Views are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization.)