There is something that has weighed on me for months now, but I wasn’t sure how, or if, I should say something.
As we’re closing in on the end of a year, I’m learning that this has been a big year of change for me and the way I participate on my social networks.
For the last half of this year I chose to keep my social networks primarily anti-politics and social issues. At first, it wasn’t intentional; I was going through a lot physically and for awhile, I simply didn’t have the energy to participate.
When I did check in to my social networks, I noticed a lot of bickering and debates. I also noticed a lot hate.
I’m a natural arguer and I love a good debate, but I know how I react when I can’t push people to see my point of view. It’s not pretty and frankly, it’s not good for me health wise.
While I was learning to disconnect from stress, I had to accept the fact being online drained and stressed me emotionally. My social networks used to be filled with joy, humor, and staying in the know about my industry. But had turned into an arena filled with anger and hostility over every big (and little) thing that’s happening to our nation.
From politely “let’s agree to disagree” to “It’s my way or no way”
I wanted to chime in, rise-up with my pitchfork and take to social media speaking out against the injustices of the world too. But, I knew if I did, I’d go to the level of so many others I knew and I’d lose people I genuinely loved and cared about.
It was with that knowledge, that I finally made the choice to keep my social networks as peaceful as possible.
Shaming in the name of justice
Maybe people are creating change with phone calls, emails, snail mail, or maybe they’re speaking or volunteering in their communities. It isn’t for me to say how people create a change in their world. What I can do is trust that the people I know, love, and care about are doing something that works for THEM.
I can’t tell you what people do behind their closed doors. I don’t believe it’s right to make assumptions about where or how they’re eliciting change. And I don’t believe it’s fair to unfollow, unfriend, or block people based on how silent they may be.
Is it truly anyone’s place to ask, “Say, I don’t see you sharing or liking what I posted on Facebook. Does that mean you don’t care about this issue?”
The reason I don’t ask is because I don’t know what someone else is dealing with off screen.
They could be like me: dealing with a chronic health problem or other people that I know; fighting their way out of depression.
Maybe they are dealing with both.
If you want to use social networks to be a catalyst for positive change and activism then ROCK ON.
However, if you’re using it to passively or directly chastise people for NOT sharing every detail of their time spent offline, their right to have a life off social networks, or giving you mad props for regurgitated posts from somewhere else? You may want to rethink what tolerance and respect means.
Who “did it better” doesn’t belong in Activism
There are many forms of activism and actions you can take to make a change. It doesn’t have to be on a big grand scale or shouted on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. In fact, I’d prefer that it isn’t. I don’t believe social networks were meant to stroke our egos, but sadly it often is.
Social activism can be as simple as helping one person better their life. If you can raise JUST.ONE.PERSON up, then you create a better future for not just them, but the lives they touch as well. And that’s what we chose (or I should say, chose us) this year.
Being an activist doesn’t mean you have to humble brag all over social networks or make assumptions about those who don’t.
More than Facebook
Honestly, does it matter that much to you if I don’t share every time I sign a petition, call my representatives, or participate in a community march, or change my profile picture for every cause because I can barely remember to change over the laundry before I have to rewash it.
To the people who have unfollowed me, or I them this year: it’s not personal on my end.
I still adore and love you, but I needed to create peace in my life before I could create something good or a change for others. My actions, or interactions online, don’t ever completely reflect what I do off screen and it shouldn’t. My life is more, and means more than my social networks.
And if you’ve judged me for my silence without knowing what I’m working through? Then the problem isn’t me. It’s you.
Maybe this sounds crazy and you haven’t experienced the passive shame but I have and I know other people have to so I can say with certainty that this is happening.
In our quest for love, tolerance, and respect in 2018, we focus less on judging what our neighbors, friends, and loved ones are doing online and more on practicing the tolerance, respect, and love we’re want in our nation and our communities.
Nikki, you expressed this so much better than my single attempt in our writers forum. Thank you.
Haha! Thanks Cathy! This is something that I’ve been wrestling with for awhile. I didn’t think going into the new year I should leave something like this unsaid.