Activism: The Incurable Bug

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Image of a person whispering in someone else's ear.

Survivor Story: One woman’s tale of her exposure to an incurable virus

You might not have heard of it, or be aware of the symptoms, but if you are a member of a group, you too could be exposed to this devastating disease. We spoke to one brave individual who took time out of her treatment regime, and despite the possible stigma of being labelled an ‘Activist’, to speak to us about the effect that her activism has had on her life.

“I remember the date. It was at the start of December 2006, in a small cafe in London. I’d met a couple of guys and we had hit it off instantly, we were talking and talking… After several hours of social intercourse I left the building with no idea I had been unknowingly infected with Activism.“

Like many sufferers of Activism, Maxine Green didn’t realise she was infected until long after the initial contact, and symptoms took several years to appear. She describes the slow onset of symptoms:

“It wasn’t until 2009 that I actually knew I’d been infected. I had gone along to a couple of social events over the previous couple of years, and met people who were already infected, but I had never really thought that it could hit me too. Then, towards the end of 2008 I started getting the urge to… to *volunteer*. I was a little worried, but I assumed it was just a passing thing, and not going to take over my life. But by the middle of 2009 there was no getting away from it. I was organising things right, left and centre, blogging, speaking out in public spaces, and even talking to national press. I really didn’t want the label, but I finally had to admit to myself that I was displaying all of the symptoms of Activism.”

There’s nothing new about Activism. It’s an STI (Socially Transmitted Inclination) that’s been around for centuries, and present in almost every society. This is an often debilitating condition which can take a great toll on the lives of sufferers and those around them. Activism can be contracted in a variety of ways, including aurally, verbally (by means of two-way social intercourse), textually, pictorially, or via sign-language, and may even sometimes occur spontaneously in populations where there are no carriers present. It’s only in recent years though, that the full reach of Activism has begun to be understood.

Symptoms include sleeplessness, agitation, inability to tolerate the status quo, an increased sensitivity to, and intolerance of bigotry and ignorance, and a tendency to take on responsibility, sometimes to personal detriment. Later stages of terminal Activism include exhaustion, cynicism, and ‘burnout’, as well as increasingly neurotic behaviour and a feeling that ‘everybody is expecting me to fix EVERYTHING!’. This feeling, sadly, is often true.

Despite the symptoms however, with proper treatment, sufferers of activism can and do live extremely productive lives. In fact, often more productive than others. Sometimes, they even manage to change the world.

Although there is no known cure, symptoms can be relieved by the application of rest, delegation of duties and recruitment of assistants. In a few cases, spontaneous remission can take place which may last for several years. Particularly aggressive strains may need to be treated with a harsh regimen of enforced removal from social settings, unplugging from social media, powering off mobile phones, and even prolonged vacations to remote locations with no internet or social gatherings. Many sufferers are also now trying a controversial new treatment: Enforced Administration (of) Tea and Biscuits In Comfy Chair, or EATaBICC. Little is currently known about the long term effects of this treatment, however it appears to provide great short term relief, and results to date look hopeful. Definitely to be avoided are conferences and workshops, which are known to inflame activist tendencies.

Certain categories of people seem to hold a natural immunity to Activism. The two main groups of these are known as ‘privileged’, and ‘lazy’. If you are not blessed with this natural immunity, it appears the only way to be absolutely certain of avoiding this distressing condition is to avoid being part of any social group at all.

If you think you, or someone you know might be suffering from Activism, ask yourself this question: What are you going to do about it? If the answer is ‘organise…’ it may already be too late.

If you are polyamorous and an activist, you may find support or sympathy here in the UK at the Poly Activists google group: http://groups.google.com/group/polyactivists


Maxine Green came out as suffering from Activism in 2009, and has since been involved in organising Polyday, OpenCon, and a couple of other sexuality related events. If you see her in person and looking stressed, please feel free to apply EATaBICC treatment.

About Maxine

Artist and illustrator by trade, polyamorous (and many other things) by nature, a scientist at heart, and an activist by accident. Blog: http://emanix.livejournal.com

5 Responses to Activism: The Incurable Bug

  1. Jess says:

    Haha. This is brilliant!

    *still giggling.*

    :D

  2. Crabbadon says:

    I think I’m displaying early warning signs, I had a 30-minute activist attack last Tuesday where I almost screamed at someone in a café for suggesting that the presence of trans women in the ladies’ might make cis women uncomfortable.

  3. 3quarks says:

    Help! I think I may have contracted this at OpenCon! ;)

  4. Tara says:

    Eep, I definitely know I’ve caught the bug. It’s been in remission for a couple of years but seems to have returned during open con due to intense verbal intercourse. I’m sure of it as I spoke out against sexual harassment for the first time ever on Monday!

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