soap·box: ˈsōpˌbäks/ noun a box or crate used as a makeshift stand by a public speaker.
The action of getting up on one’s soapbox (to soapbox [v.]) is someone with a strong idea, needing to share it in the moment, finds something to stand on. Often the impromptu platform for soapboxing was that of its name sake – a crate used for shipping soap. Soapboxes were a key component of street oratory; sidewalk speakers who were holding meetings or making speeches needed to put themselves above the crowd to be seen and heard. This also created controversy: it pitted public order against the freedom of anyone to speak out loud. It also set up “rival” soapboxers – someone who would be there to offer opposing opinions. Skilled speakers had to be quick on their feet, loud, and armed with wit.
Social media affords us the opportunity to hop up on our soapbox without abandon; clamoring and unfiltered. For better or worse, we’ve enabled opinions to be shared with everyone around the globe.
World leaders celebrities and Joe-off-the-street can hop online and broadcast their feelings with three taps of a finger and 140 (or 280) characters. It’s simultaneously an wonderful resource, and a horrifying insight into others’ lives. I can know exactly what skincare routine my favorite B-list sci-fi celebrity utilizes, and also know how my coworker feels about their customers.
I think that this could be made so much better. I propose the idea of soapboxing be taken literally. Boxing is just two people, generally wearing protective gloves, throwing punches for a predetermined time in a boxing ring. Soapboxing would be boxing, but involving the usage or application of soap and also public speaking. If someone has an opinion and would like to speak on it, they need to arm themselves with bars of soap, and start throwing punches while talking. Fists clenched tightly around the Irish Spring bar, and shouting their outlook on corn futures in relation to $SHOP shorting. If there is someone with an opposing idea, they also ought to take up soap and begin swinging.
I’m aware this idea needs some polishing, and I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps there’s the caveat that your feet must remain on a literal soapbox while punching? Maybe the actual soap boxes themselves should be used as the weapons. Or even the boxing ring could be soap-coated, and the contest is to stay upright while also communicating your ideas. Though that may be heading towards mud wrestling. We’ll muddle through the fine details on that later.
There is progress to be made in getting up on a soapbox, and we’re the ones who have to figure it out. Social media has been a step up, but we can’t take a soapbox at face value. We need to have soap and faith – cry havoc and let slip the soapbox of war.