The Saddest Moment of the Z Event 2022
It was when president Macron tweeted about it, and here is why.
First and foremost, quoting Wikipedia for those who might not have heard about it.
The Z Event is a francophone charity project created by Adrien Nougaret and Alexandre Dachary (respectively known under the pseudonyms ZeratoR and Dach) whose goal is to bring together French streamers to collect donations that will support a charity. Organized on the Twitch streaming site, it has raised more money than any other french video gaming event. During the 2021 stream, ZEvent raised €10 million Euros, a world record.
Generally speaking, when you have a problem to solve, you need money. There are several ways to collect money. The Z Event has proven to be one both efficient and fun, and for that, all of us, whether we enjoy watching live streams on Twitch or not, should acknowledge the quality of entrepreneurship of the organizers as well as the entertainment capacities of the various streamers and guests who participated in the event.
But to come up with a solution to a problem, one doesn’t just need money. Let’s say you have to change your car’s tires, and you lack the money to buy new ones. And let’s say I give you 500$, you’re now 500$ richer but your problem is yet to be solved. You still have to go to a store and buy new tires, which implies that you’ll have to make a choice either by documenting yourself or by trusting the sales person. And once you have your new tires, you’ll have to install them, and depending on whether you know how to do it, or you’re willing to learn how, have the required tools, or you know someone who could help you, you’ll choose a different approach, which may be different from someone else’s. And with that I’m not even talking about what you’re going to do with your old tires.
All this to say that when you start looking at things this way, you realize that there are really no problems that can be solved just by throwing some money on it. You also need a plan. For problems like changing your tires, fixing your fridge or getting something to eat, most of us will probably figure out how to do it one way or another, assuming we have the money. But when we talk about eradicating poverty, ending a war or ensuring access to healthcare for everyone, we talk about more complex issues that one cannot just bury under a mattress of money, whatever the amount and wherever that money comes from. I don’t think a single person can pretend to have a plan to address them, because I don’t think a single person can think about all the implications of such issues.
The same goes for environmental causes such as global warming and getting to zero carbon emissions. Surely moving from a fossil-based economy to a carbon-free economy doesn’t have the same implications for a farmer with a mid-size exploitation than it has for someone working in marketing living in an urban area. Who alone can seriously pretend to have figured out how to get there, considering the complexity of this systemic problem which we all are a part of? It’s important to see that we are all part of the problem, even if we don’t all have the same carbon footprint depending on the quantity of energy that we directly or indirectly consume. Today, as individuals, it’s practically impossible to get to zero carbon emissions. Even the best intended person who makes the most sacrifices can not pretend to be there. At least not alone, we collectively need to change the way we move around, consume services and stuff, treat our wastes, produce our energy, etc.
The independence and the zero environmental impact of our way of living as individuals are views of the mind.
It’s easy to consider that there are solutions out there, and that it’s up to our politicians, as the good Robin Hood’s they are supposed to be, to implement the ones that are right for the common good people, but unpopular for the small group of bad people conspiring under their huge pile of money, hidden in some tax-free offshore bank account. All of that while a portion of the upper-middle class continues to grow their ego by telling themselves they are saving the planet by going out to their local vegan grocery store by foot to buy their soy milk right before they purchase plane tickets for their next trip to Disney world (by the way that’s me, hi!).
Obviously, it’s essential that we individually restrain ourselves more. We need to consume less shit. But if we want to get serious about it, we need not to shame the ones who don’t, but to make that sobriety desirable to a majority, and that is no small task. Force everyone to ditch their car and switch to a bike, you’ll have a revolution of suburbians and people working in the car industry. Force online retailers like Amazon to reduce the number of references they have on their websites by half, you’ll have a revolution of people living from those references, not to mention those who just don’t like change (which is everyone). I remember seeing a news article about random people expressing strong feelings against the phasing out of paper shop receipts expected in France in 2023, and we want to talk about moving out of oil!
In a democracy, we get the politics we deserve.
Politicians come with their ideology. As individuals, they have personal opinions on what is in the best interest of a majority of people. But as long as we live in a democracy, they cannot unilaterally implement these ideas against the will of a majority. We, only beginning to face the consequences of global warming and the deterioration of our planet, is not the failure of our politicians, it’s our failure, to us all. It’s the result of our collective incapacity to prioritize the resolution of a problem before it’s not possible to ignore it anymore. In a democracy, having a critical majority asking for a set of necessary changes is the prerequisite for politicians to be able to order these changes. If they don’t have this critical majority, they are left with the long, tedious, most of the time non-rewarding job of working the popular opinion.
Looking at some specimens that we had in the recent years, it’s safe to say we would probably be doomed if it were just for states leaders. Fortunately it’s not just them, we see a lot of great initiatives coming from some industry leaders, non-governmental organizations, unions, individuals with some kind of influence and… streamers. The 2022 edition of the Z Event has broken its own donations record again, reaching 10 182 126 € that are going to be distributed across four different pro-environment NGOs. This, happening in the current inflationary context with war striking at the other end of Europe, must be another positive indicator of the general opinion shifting more and more to a pro-environmental restrictions acceptance state of mind. And we must encourage that.
There comes the moment President Macron published a video on Twitter in which he expressed his support for the event and the cause it bears, and essentially received a shit storm in response. Some streamers didn’t bother with kindness or even respect, some lost their temper, or pointed out the fact that Macron and his pairs were the very reason they did this charity event. I get why people describe this as cynical, considering it as political appropriation. But to me this really shows a lack of understanding of how a democracy is supposed to function.
The way I see it, this video is a sign of a democracy functioning the way it’s supposed to function. It’s a confirmation that the political class is aware of the stakes, and doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to prepare the popular opinion for the upcoming radical society transformations that will have to happen, whether we collectively convince ourselves that we want them or that we suffer them.
Try to look at things this way: you have the right to believe that when it comes to a topic as critical as the environment, an opinion leader who incarnates exactly what you believe to be necessary for the common good would be right to impose their rules, however radical and harmful they would be for a significant part of the population. But if this is what you believe, then you renounce democracy. If on the contrary you believe in democracy and are willing to deal with its pitfalls, then act to promote your values. And when you see a result of your efforts, be glad and welcome it instead of cutting off the hand that tries to feed you, because this is a sign that you’re starting to make a difference.
I saw a group of people claiming to support a cause they care about, probably insulting the biggest influencer of the country in his attempt to give them more visibility and legitimacy, and I thought it was sad. I don’t blame them (I mean it was a 50 hours livestream) but it was painful to watch.
This is a call to individual humility and collective intelligence for anyone who may have found sense in the streamers’ reaction. There are more things to do with a problem of this size than what you might already have thought of. Besides, the future of a democracy is not driven by a small group of political leaders who are on a five years lease, but by the actions undertaken by its most engaged citizens in the long run. As products of the fossil-society who are hopeful for a new society model, it’s easy to express our disappointment in those we put in charge. But asking ourselves what we would do if we were in their shoes or what could be done at our level is something else.
Organizing and participating in an event as successful as the Z Event is huge, it’s a shame a bunch of exhausted streamers spoiled it for small personal political reasons. I hope in time they come to realize that and apologize. I don’t watch live streams, I don’t think it’s a good use of my time. And yet I get why some people enjoy them. I have no problem applauding the self-made men and women who basically invented their profession, and I admire the success of the Z Event. The same way, we don’t have to agree on everything with someone - may that be a politician - to work together on our shared interests. In times of urgency, we need to work together on what matters rather than cultivate what separates us.