Last week Kanye West blew up Twitter with a series of tweets on creativity, individuality, openness, community and free thought. He’s been silent on Twitter for years but with over 30 million followers, a tweetstorm gets noticed.
There was nothing controversial about his tweets. In fact, we were all loving them — and Kanye! — and seeing ourselves in his tweets about creativity, individuality, optimism and love.
Until we weren’t.
Right when Kanye had everyone’s full attention, and our guard was down he dropped a tweet bomb.
West Tweeted about Candace Owens, a right-leaning, Trump supporting firebrand personality who is critical of the left, of Black Lives Matter and of the victim mentality she says is holding back the left. She is a darling of the Trump Right and accused of being a traitor by the left.
In short, West buttered us up with optimism, excitement, and our inflated self image to fry us in our own hypocricy.
The backlash was immediate. It’s well known that most artists, Hollywood and the music industry are left leaning. They did not approve of West’s admiration of Owens. They were no longer celebrating, they were angry.
But was West contradicting himself in any way? Nope. Candace Owens defies the peer pressure of political correctness, she stands her ground, she believes in her cause and she is tireless but optimistic about her cause. She is the epitome of a free thinker. Kanye West loves free-thinkers. This is exactly what West had been tweeting about to great celebration but when faced with a free-thinker who opposes the status quo, people felt betrayed and they reacted emotionally.
Was this a set up to create controversy? Had West changed sides? Was West losing his mind?
In reality, there is nothing inconsistent with West tweeting about admiring free thinkers and then providing an example of one. A few days later, he provided another example, Emma Gonzales, one of the Parkland School student activists. Gonzales is possibly the polar opposite of the political spectrum from Owens and the Trump right. But to West, and in the theme of free thinkers, Owens, Gonzales, and West are one and the same: free thinkers exercising their free speech on a social media platform and out in the world.
It has been fascinating to watch the backlash like a pendulum swinging right to left and back again as Kanye hypnotized Twitter. He tweeted about free thought: “only free thinkers” then presented ideas that conflicted with the status quo triggering a cognitive dissonance that inspired an online reaction that rippled through Twitter out into real life with a media wave of pop culture commentary and articles on Kanye. People wanted to know, was this a media stunt? Is Kanye losing his mind? What are his intentions? And what should we do?
It wasn’t just the twitter masses or the media angry with West, but his close friends were confronting him and trying to silence him as well.
This is when the magic happened.
Kanye West’s friend John Legend, another famous musician, texted West asking him to back off of his support for conservatives, for Candace Owens and for Trump. He tried to silence him. It didn’t work. West stood his ground and reaffirmed his love for all, his open mind and his support of free thinking.
They went back and forth without arguing, without insults, without blocking each other, they spoke their minds and then… a few nights later they went out to dinner together with their wives. No love lost. THIS is something this country needs.
Kanye West isn’t just talking the talk, he’s walking the walk. He is showing us how to love by loving. He is demonstrating tolerance in his actions with how he treats those who challenge him. He is being the light he wishes to see in the world and we are watching.
If any star has ever used their platform for good, I’d say Kanye West takes the lead. He is an example of how to listen, be patient, and express genuine tolerance and love for others by respecting each other and admiring the best in each person.
You don’t like Emma Gonzalez? But do you admire her fierce activism, standing up for a cause? Do you respect her right to protest?
You don’t like Candace Owens? But do you admire her courage in challenging the status quo? Are you impressed with her eloquence? Do you respect her right to disagree?
If you weren’t bothered by West celebrating two figures on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum, you are ahead of the curve.
If you were bothered by it but suddenly, uncomfortably aware of your own hypocricy and intolerance and decided to take stock of your mind, heart and spirit, you are also ahead of the curve.
If you reacted with anger, hate, closing off your heart and mind to West, turning on him and denouncing him, you are part of the problem.
It doesn’t matter which bucket you fall in. We each have the capacity to grow or regress, none of us are better than the other for having the right or wrong reaction. This is an opportunity for us to start to think more openly, to be more critical of ourselves and less critical of others, to identify what makes each of us amazing instead of picking at our differences.
Scott Adams has said that we are on the dawn of a Golden Age. The potential peace agreement between North and South Korea is one sign of the Golden Age. Kanye West is another. According to Scott Adams, the Golden Age is when we realize that most of our problems are psychological instead of physical. Psychological prisons are easier to escape than physical prisons. We need a mind shift, to think differently, to think freely. To get there, we need permission, we need a pathway and we need results.
Kanye West is a big celebrity giving us permission. He isn’t the first, he won’t be the last but he is the biggest of this moment who declares that it’s okay, even cool, to be a free thinker. Next we need a path. So far no one has given us a path. West and Legend are the true trailblazers here. We have seen divisiveness on both sides. We have seen families torn apart, friendships ended, sides taken but now West and Legend are showing us a path forward. “agree to disagree” What a beautiful thing!
The last step is Results. Now that we have a path, the results will flow quickly. I think we have seen them already. The backlash to the White House Press Correspondents Dinner, while exposing the hypocricy of the right in clutching pearls over Michelle West’s mean words simmered into a new solution. In the past, when we’ve had scandals of mean tweets and mean words, both sides downgraded their class and intelligence to more mudslinging but in the days after this event, there seems to be a consensus forming that we are all pretty tired of this kind of thing and want to try something new.
The White House Press Correspondents committee responded “ “offer a unifying message about our shared commitment to a vigorous and free press while honoring civility.”
The fevered screaming is exhausting. We are ready for something new.
Other celebrity and political personalities are commenting on a change in the energy.