We all get that feeling sometimes that we are on the outside.
Whether it was when we first joined a new football team. Or when we are in a group conversation and others start talking about Game of Thrones but we’ve not seen a single episode!
For a brief moment we all feel like an outsider – where we are in a place where our face does not quite fit.
For most of us though this feeling passes pretty quickly, whether that is when the conversation topic changes or when we have been to a few more football training sessions. However, for some that feeling never quite goes away.
That feeling of being on the fringe for not only one conversation or one training session, but the feeling that they are on the fringe of everything.
I think the sad reality is that there is an increasing amount of people feeling like this – albeit it can be for very different reasons.
And it is causing many of the biggest issues we as a society today are facing – from the recent terrorist attacks to our increasing suicide rates.
Who is on the ‘fringe’ of our society?
In the last few months and years we have seen an increasing amount of terrorist attacks, campaigns based on fear and hatred and hate crimes. Whether that was Manchester, London Bridge, Trump’s Campaign or the Finsbury Park Mosque hate crime.
And I would argue that one of the main root causes for majority of these events has come from people feeling like they are on the ‘fringe’ or disillusioned with the society they are part of.
These individuals are not actually outsiders though – even they feel like they are.
If you look at where 9 out of the 11 Paris Attackers (Nov 2015) were from.
They were not ‘outsiders’ but people who were born and raised in those same communities. And yet they must have felt so alienated that they were okay with killing their own neighbours.
For the Paris Attackers, they felt alienated because they felt that their religious part of their identity did not fit with the society around them.
Other people feel disillusioned not because of their religion but because of their ethnicity, sexuality, wealth, disability etc.
There are so many reasons why people can feel like they are on the ‘fringe’, but what always happens is that they look for a way out.
For some they look towards extremism, for others they might look towards gangs or they may even look more intrinsically towards suicide and depression.
Whatever it is, we as a society are paying the price for letting this happen.
How can we change this and help make people to feel more included in our society?
There is no simple solution, but I do think there are things that we can do.
For instance, what if we can show people who are feeling like that, relatable people – so people like them – sharing a positive experience with someone else from the same society.
And that someone being someone who is representative of the society they do not feel they can be part of.
Maybe then we could give them the realisation that they need not feel like they are on the fringe, they are in fact one of us – as they have always been.
And maybe through this, we can give anyone who feels like this, hope for their future as an individual and as part of the rest of society.
This is in part, is why I think our project My Mate is so important.
If through our videos, we can tell a different story about the world. One which focuses on our similarities.
Maybe then there will be less people who feel like they are on the fringes of society, and more people who feel part of it as they can see what binds them to other people in society – rather than what makes them different.
This is not to say that this will completely solve the problem, but it just might help give a few people who feel alienated the hopeful reminder that they are not an ‘outsider’ – and that they always have been and always will be one of us.
My Mate is a project ran by a few young Londoners trying to highlight the fact we share more in common than we think.
The idea is to bring together people from dissimilar backgrounds (eg. nationality, religion etc.) who share things in common (eg. both love gardening or are Arsenal fans). Then through documenting their positive experience together we aim to tell a different story about the world.
A story which says that despite some of the horrible things that are happening right now. There will always be reason for hope and optimism, because we share more in common than we think.