On Monday, journalist and independent filmmaker Lauren Southern announced her retirement from the political public sphere to take on a more full, private life. Just 23 years old, Southern plans on furthering her education, and has not ruled out political contributions in the future.
“Farewell,” Southern posted in a tweet on Monday. “I’ve enjoyed this all greatly but it’s time to start a new chapter of my life. Thank you to all my incredible colleagues who I’ll be cheering on in their fight for truth – and my wonderful supporters who made all I’ve done possible.”
“I’ve been slowly moving towards a life less ‘lived’ in the virtual world and more present outside of it,” Southern wrote in a post detailing her decision to exit the political stage. “I have long wanted to pursue this less public life, but I have also felt a sense of duty to stay and make a difference. It’s not that I don’t deeply enjoy the creative and political aspects of my work: it is that I would prefer to find that fulfillment in a more private capacity. I’ve finally decided to fully make that commitment.”
“Rest assured, it is not that I regret my past experiences. These have been the most formative and phenomenal years of my life,” said the 23-year-old. Southern’s work has brought her to riots exploding on the streets of Paris, the embattled farmlands of South Africa, and ground zero for migrant crises in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
“I admit that I’ve stumbled on my words. I agree that I’ve lacked tact in my approach to politics at times. I’m certainly not perfect, but I’ve always done my best to be honest and improve. I like who I am now and I like that I’ve allowed myself to grow and learn through all of this. At the same time, I will not apologize for things that are not true, no matter how often the media has attempted to affix labels and events to me as false scarlet letters,” she continued.
Southern noted of the inevitable “trade-off” when one is engrossed in such a life. “While I was thrilled to travel, report, and debate, in what many would regard as the adventure of a lifetime – career and adventure are only one aspect of a meaningful existence. If our connection to other human beings becomes primarily through a screen or in short passings through cities, and our interactions largely cold calculated and political – one misses out on some of the most beautiful aspects of being human,” she wrote.
“Sadly social media and politics can at times become an addiction if overindulged,” said Southern. “Unlike other addiction this one is particularly dangerous because there is truly a good excuse to engage in it. It is far too easy to rationalize over and over again why whatever ’cause’ one is pursuing is more important than any other aspect of one’s life. At that point you’ve lost balance and in the end lose perspective. This discombobulation in the glare of the public eye is pervasive in our modern era, and affects everyone, of all political leanings, and with all interests.”
Using her on-the-ground experience, Southern revealed that she plans on “returning to school and pursuing my academics again.”
“Who knows? Maybe you’ll read my name on papers, in journals, or as a byline in articles,” she said. “The story of my political career may have more chapters one day, but they will not be in the same televised firebrand capacity you’ve seen before.”
“I truly believe the idea that ‘you can have it all’ is a fanciful dream we tell ourselves,” Southern explained. “In some cases if you want something you must make sacrifice, and I’m more than happy to sacrifice my small little piece of ‘fame’ or ‘notoriety’ to continue to grow myself as a person and evolve in my political contributions. To focus on my family and future family, to focus on my studies and my soul.”
“Thank you once again to all those who have supported me and made my work possible. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together – and you should be too,” Southern ended her candid post. “God bless.”
At the end of May, Southern released a documentary on mass migration, “Borderless.” The documentary was quickly censored by YouTube without explanation; the journalist was forced to upload a “backup” of the film, diminishing her view count.
“Really heartbreaking when our team has put months and months of work into a project just to have it censored by [YouTube]. It can’t be a coincidence that it’s not in notifications, shows as deleted, not on my videos list, doesn’t show in recent history,” Southern shared on May 25.