In the olden days, if you wanted to say something especially in the market, it was imperative that you stood on a soapbox to be visible.
Once you were elevated, you became better placed to get the attention of the masses, but as you stood atop, it required wisdom to appreciate that once you got the attention of the masses, your time on the soapbox was limited and the faster you relayed your message, the better.
Now even though we have advanced, thanks to technology, it is still crucial for one to stand on a soapbox to get the attention of others.
Of course, soapboxes have metamorphosed over the years, but no matter which form they take, their role still remains the same. They are platforms for purpose. In the 21st century, we no longer stand on soapboxes, crates or wooden boxes but we are exposed to social media.
These are platforms that grant an individual the advantage of attention of others regardless of their position in society. From this vintage point, a person can shape opinions, share ideas, sell products and even shift behaviours, habits and cultures because they are elevated enough to gain visibility.
But it is important to understand that soapboxes, are not houses that one lives in forever! They are platforms that are inhabited for limited periods of time and they can be occupied by anyone who works to stand on them, even the most unlikely person has a chance to stand on one of the most prominent soapboxes, allowing their agenda or products to be amplified.
It is, therefore, important that when one gets a chance to stand on a soapbox that they become very intentional with their agenda and sensitive to the limitations of time. If you are a politician for example, this is not the time to turn a soapbox into a personal platform and lose sight of the purpose for which you are elevated, because soapboxes only elevate you to reach the masses, not rob or cheat the masses.
The attention cannot be turned over to you, it must remain on the ones for whom you climbed the soapbox.
It is cataclysmic to behave badly while standing on a soapbox, because it amplifies your bad behaviour. You cannot be blatantly abusing your office or fighting in full view of the masses when the expectation is that you offer direction and leadership.
Whether you have a large social media following or are a celebrity, the honours is on you to leverage on the platform that you have, with an understanding that you are connected to numerous other people.
It is, therefore, your responsibility to offer them respect because it is their attention that you are seeking. It is also important to remember that you hold the power of influence.
If this power is harnessed, it does take much for you to reap the rewards of using a soapbox well.
As times change and the world continues to shrink into one global village, it won’t be that difficult to access a soapbox, as it becomes simpler to reach the masses especially through technology. We therefore have to be very vigilant in using our platforms well, as individuals get elevated through social media and have access to millions of people, we have to tighten not our reach but our niche. We have to ask ourselves the crucial question, what am I bringing to the table once I stand on a soapbox?
Are we bringing fake products or genuine ones, transforming ideas or dividing ones, policies or just propaganda? We can no longer just celebrate people because they stand on a prominent soapbox we must judge them based on what they say as they stand on these positions and how they treat the masses for whom they seek their attention.
It’s high time we appreciate the power of holding platforms of purpose and not just platforms of persons. The purposes for which we stand on soapboxes must be well defined and strategic enough to influence the masses positively. – The writer is a Communications Strategist and Lecturer at Kenyatta University. —[email protected]