I am upset. Frustrated. Sad. I feel like I want to disappear from every possible online presence I can. Before writing this, I contemplated (for at least 30 minutes) the reasons why I shouldn’t cancel all my social media. I realize how dramatic that sounds, but when I feel overwhelmed with negativity, I tend to go to an all or nothing mindset.
Thankfully, it never usually lasts more than a few days. Something will happen or someone will say something, restoring my faith in humanity, and I plunge headfirst back into the abyss. I open myself up anew, as if the wound never existed, and risk it all over again. Because I want to believe love and kindness exist more than hate and cruelty in this world.
I have chosen, in recent years, to attempt eliminating judgment from my life. It is very important to me not to judge anyone for anything. If I find myself disagreeing with someone else’s opinions or ethics, I won’t argue, I will simply step away. Sometimes I will express a kinder and gentler opinion, but you will be hard-pressed to find me take it any further than that. When a friendship/relationship does not serve me or my personal well-being, I will begin to remove myself from it slowly and politely.
I try hard to live by the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” philosophy. As a result, people often tell me I see the world through rose-colored glasses or I am too idealistic. The truth is, I have seen and experienced quite a lot in my life. I just choose to live in a way that looks forward, not backward. I do not dwell on the bad things from yesterday, I believe in the good that is in front of me today, and tomorrow.
But I am human. If I see social injustice or inequality, I get frustrated. Sometimes downright defiant. It is hard for me to understand hating someone because of the color of their skin, the country they come from, their sexual orientation or gender preference, their religion, their immigration status, etc. There is no conceivable way for anyone to determine if an individual is a good person by passing judgment on them for any of these reasons.
The amount of judgment and negativity I have seen this week (mostly online) is incredible.
Late in 2014, I discovered the nomadic community on YouTube. I began subscribing to channels and watching them faithfully. With only one or two exceptions, everyone seemed to get along with each other. Not everyone saw things the same way but no one questioned anyone else’s integrity. Until they did. Or until I noticed at least.
Peace and harmony are not the status of things as they stand today. The community that inspired me is now making videos against each other, even creating whole channels to mock creators they don’t like or approve of. I’m seeing mean angry rants, rant responses, and a lot of everyone worrying what other people are doing (which is really none of their business).
Then you have the people who cause real-life trouble for those they don’t like online (YouTube, FB, etc). These folks find and post personal information online about the person they have decided they don’t like. Then they encourage others to call companies the person does business with, trying to get the company to drop the person as a customer. They make threats against the person, threatening personal safety, property, pets, etc.
One troublemaker recently went so far as to post the license plate of a person they dislike and encouraged people to call in to report anonymous fake claims for drunk driving, stolen vehicle, reckless driving, littering, and worse. Shockingly, people did it! Where does it stop? Where is the line?
Look, if you don’t like someone’s channel, just unsubscribe. If the way they live their life doesn’t vibe with you, you don’t have to have anything to do with them. Don’t like their Facebook posts? Unfollow them, remove them as a friend, or totally block them if you feel the need.
If you are looking for a reason to dislike someone you are certain to find it. Try to consider why you don’t like them. For example, there is someone I ran across online recently that bugs the hell out of me. After some deep reflecting into why I didn’t like her, I realized she bothers me because she reminds of myself when I was younger. During a time I am not proud of.
Does that make her a bad person? Not at all. The problem is with me, not her. She is younger and growing as a person, much like I was at her age. It’s not her behaviour I don’t like, it’s the memory of my behaviour. She just reminds me enough of myself to make me think about it.
As I close this post, I would like to suggest that before you photograph, videotape, post, or even comment, ask yourself if it’s necessary to say what you are about to say. If it is a topic you are passionate about, are you representing that passion by presenting it in a respectful way without ugly or combative language? Will it hurt someone else? Will it hurt someone you know or care about? Is it more important to make your point and cause drama, or to have a peaceful and kind day?
I’m going with peaceful and kind. All day every day.