I remember a time when my sister laughed at me because I couldn’t have a Facebook account. Couldn’t have one, you say? Yes, I could not have a Facebook account. It was impossible. Why? Well, some people may not remember that when Facebook first came about one had to have a valid college email address in order to create a profile and considering the fact that I was many years removed from having my West Chester University student email address available to me, there was no Facebook account to be had. At all.
However, by 2006, I, along with other people devoid of college email addresses, was finally permitted to create a Facebook profile. I won’t lie, as a former MySpacer, the transition was difficult, painful even. I didn’t like the Facebook format. I didn’t like having no option to display my “top friends”. I didn’t like that Facebook wasn’t MySpace despite the fact that I had been told repeatedly that no one used MySpace anymore and that by virtue of me still using it, I was deemed as good as elderly
I grew over the years to embrace Facebook. It allowed me to connect with friends I hadn’t seen in years- from high school classmates to girls I braved Girl Scout Camp with- and allowed me to interact with them on a daily basis despite their physical absence. But 2016 proved to be a pivotal year in my Facebook usage. I discovered I was loathing interactions far more than enjoying them. There were the usual unwanted inbox messages from men fucktarded enough to believe that telling me where I ranked on their “fuckability” scale would result in my parting my thighs immediately and allowing them access to my nether region. (Ummmmmm, no.) However, nothing proved more annoying and soul-irking than the statuses from some of my Facebook friends in the post-marriage equality, pre-election fuckery and present racially-charged environment that 2016 seemed to shove down all of our throats. To say that the events of 2016 and people’s responses to them have sullied my Facebook and social media experience is an understatement.
I understand that people come from different backgrounds, have had varying experiences that have made them who they are and that one can never really know the inner-workings of the minds of those we interact with on social media. Even with my keen understanding of these things, I was still underprepared for the shit storm of ignorance, bigotry, misogyny, racism, colorism, sexism, glorification of rape culture, homophobia, and outright intolerance and disrespect my 2016 Facebook feed continually rained upon me.
I’ve handled the influx of ridiculous fuckery in a manner of ways. Typically, I’ve opted to defriend and block people who reach Offensive Level Ten Billion with their posts and commentary. There were some posts so egregiously hateful that I became physically ill reading them and my body, or at least my “Swype finger”, was rendered paralyzed and unable to respond to the heinousness. There are people who say differences in opinion should not cause one to block and defriend, however, when your eyes, soul, and love for humanity all feel simultaneously lit aflame from a Facebook post, you will take the appropriate measures to ensure you never encounter or witness such douchebaggery ever again.
Defriendings and blockings aside, at times I have chosen to engage directly with flagrant perpetrators of ignorance. On one occasion, I saw this post on my Facebook feed:
Now, I found myself both wincing and cringing, not just at the headline, but because the person who posted it felt the need to state that a terrible crime such as the rape of children wouldn’t be deemed newsworthy. Additionally, I felt the immediate need to question who “they” were and had a sneaking suspicion that the “they” in question referred to either gay people or white people. My curiosity got the better of me, so, I decided to take a gander at the comments. What I saw in the comments fully resurrected the functionality of my formerly paralyzed “Swype finger”:
Double U. Tee. Fuck. I was floored! The second comment’s implication that gay people want children just so that they can rape them not only offended me but caused an immediate internal need to read the fuck out of the commenter. I have a slew of gay friends whom I love and respect and would be happy to see either have their own children or adopt the many parentless ones in this country. Hell, some of my gay friends are already parents and excellent ones at that, who would be just as appalled if not more than I to see ANYONE, regardless of sexual orientation, harming children. I warmed up my “Swype finger” and got to work:
Now, I am notoriously long-winded and very aware of that trait. I attempted to be concise and get straight to the point whilst simultaneously calling out the commenter’s ignorance. After posting my comment, I noticed the person who had posted the article in the first place decided to tell me, “I think she has a right to her opinion, whether you agree with it or not.” Ummmmmm, DUH! Everyone has a right to their opinion and I never stated that wasn’t the case. The original poster then decided to continue to comment by writing confusing and assumptive commentary about what I had to say:
“Upset” wasn’t the word to express how I was feeling about the implication that all gay people are pedophiles. I get upset when I think I plugged my phone in before taking a nap only to wake up and discover I have a dead phone. I get upset when I go to the supermarket and there aren’t any more family-sized Stouffer’s vegetable lasagnas left. I get upset when I straighten my hair, which I no longer chemically straighten, and then get caught in a rain storm. I get upset when I find a shoe I love in the window of a shoe store, go inside and find out they don’t carry the shoe in the size 12 needed to fit the feet anchoring my 6 ft 1 frame.
Upset to me is a much smaller description of what I was feeling. I was feeling the intense, overwhelming need to defend, correct in honor of and stand up for fellow human beings, in this case, gay people. I was also feeling the need to educate and call a person out on their ignorance. I stay “on my Namaste” and also felt the need to keep my wits about me in my response, making sure not to name call. Methinks, perhaps, my use of the phrase “beyond fucking ridiculous” caused the comments regarding “respectfully disagreeing”, however, I don’t think cursing overtly implies disrespect. I’m the type of person who punctuates sentences with curse words because I enjoy doing so and it is not out of the ordinary for me to tell people how fucking happy I am for them or how much I fucking love them. Get my point? Too much was being assumed from my comment, ironically enough not from the person I wrote my response to. I decided to make myself extraordinarily clear:
So, I let my wind get long only to result in being asked what would Jesus say? Hold up. Wayment! Buddha, bless it! I won’t give you a super long dissertation on how I view Christ, but if you are interested, feel free to take a look here, here, here, here and here. I am not your typical follower of Christ. To ask a person such as myself, into astrotheology and other against the so-called norm knowledge, WWJS is the equivalent of inviting yourself to like a week-long conversation with the prerequisite of at least one year of pre-study in Buddhist, Hermetic, Astrological, Esoteric, Metaphysical and other concepts. One cannot ask me about Jesus and get an answer suitable for the confines of a Facebook comment, but alas, I had to say something:
STAHP! Idiot time! My referring to idiocy is not just a jab at the response to my comment. Oh, no! By this point in the commenting scheme of things, I felt like an idiot for engaging in conversation/debate with someone clearly unable to keep up with me. I was “casting my pearls before swine” or expecting someone “tuned into” radio station 90.1 to clearly hear what I was broadcasting on radio station 106.1. It simply wasn’t going to happen. Not to mention, in all the effort and energy I had put into my comments, the person I initially responded to had still not said a word. This is a major problem and contributing factor to recent interactions on Facebook being unpleasant; sometimes it’s not the responses you’re getting but the one’s you’re not getting. I truly wasn’t sure if it would have been better to go back and forth with the person I initially responded to, or to deal with someone else I hadn’t responded to in the first place. I was beyond annoyed at this point. I had to end it all.
So, I did.
I really am happy I had the opportunity to end a sensitive discussion calmly and appreciate the end comments, but things like this play a major role in why it seems increasingly hard to leisurely scroll through my Facebook feed without encountering hatred. Hatred spewed against black people, the LGBT community, minorities in general, as well as women and movements that seek to protect and advocate on behalf of these different groups, is appallingly frequent and commonplace. It is jarring at times that from the comfort of your home, or wherever you opt to access Facebook from, you can see such strong opposition to the rights and humanity of entire groups of fellow human beings being spat by people you know.
They’re human beings.
Beautiful fucking human beings.
All of us souls occupying these bodies of ours for this short time on Earth. All of us part of a collective consciousness wherein each is so much a part of the other, that it is the duty of each one to respect the value of the whole. We do not have to want to be around anyone who makes us uncomfortable, or who we don’t particularly like, regardless of our reasons why. However, if we cannot acknowledge that each one of us deserves the same respect and rights to pursuing our happiness and freedoms, then we frankly don’t deserve those rights and freedoms for ourselves.
I respect everyone and their right to live freely and unoppressed by centuries-long divisions that need not exist. I don’t have to personally like anyone to wish them well; to want for them the same happiness I want for myself. My Facebook feed lately not only shows me that there are far too many people who simply don’t have true respect for others but also, unfortunately, that witnessing them behave so inhumanely challenges my ability not to have negative energy towards them. It is so easy to get sucked down into the negativity of some of the unfortunate posts we come across. It becomes tiring, even when everything within you prompts you to stand up for fellow human beings. We can’t and shouldn’t engage in every negative comment or post we see. It’s not healthy, but when we do make the choice to speak up and out we have to choose our battles wisely.
I recently learned I have high blood pressure. Though I have been proud in the past of my ability to work through stress in work and personal situations, I recognize the significant negative impact stress has on my health. I won’t let getting worked up over the opinions of bigoted, racist, homophobic, sexist or misogynistic twat waffles kill me. No. Niet. Negative. Nah. Nope. More nope. Whole lotta nope. Still more nope. Naw. Fuck outta here, boul. Nizzaw. In the illustrious words of Pootie Tang, “I gotsta say the ‘nay no'”.
The realization that it’s unhealthy to constantly combat ridiculous negativity strewn about Facebook, coupled with the need to speak out selectively against it, makes for a delicate balancing act. A truly appreciated saving grace are your other Facebook friends as fervent about speaking out against ignorance and injustice as you. It is far easier to fall back at times when you know there are others that will still fight against the bull shit as eloquently, quickly and boldly as you.
That’s why I love my girl, Keyana.
If a saving grace were a direct, intelligent, quickly-composed, ignorance-snatching, informative read, we would all pray to Saint Keyana for it. Following the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I found myself constantly embroiled in discussions about white privilege (mostly explaining to white people, regardless of economic background, that they had it), counter BLM sentiment from those declaring “All Lives Matter”, and the annoying and misguided tendencies of some white people to point out so-called black-on-black crime whenever the murders of black people at the hands of white people and/or police was the discussion of the moment. I had a few good experiences (one that will be featured in Part 2 of this post) as well as a few bad. But, Key stopped me dead in my tracks from responding to some ignorance in response to her post concerning the recent shootings of black people.
I couldn’t have said it better myself and I’m glad I didn’t have to. Despite all the ridiculousness I’ve seen , one thing I’m sure of is that I’m both humbled and honored to have so many amazing people like Keyana in my social network who bluntly stand up against ignorance. I’ve seen so many explosive conversations with back and forths consisting of nothing but insults and name calling. I enjoy the bit of snark and sarcasm sprinkled throughout what she said because it punctuates the fact that it’s frustrating to even have to explain so much.
I don’t know about you, but when something is eye-roll-worthy to begin with, then you have to dissect it into neat little pockets of understanding for some don’t-have-a-clue-ass people, you treat it like the annoyance that it is. Combating ignorance is important work that needs to be done but it’s still frustrating as fuck. There are too many people who don’t “get it” and too little time to fight/convert/educate/read them all.
We have to do better.
If you don’t have people in your social network willing to be a part of shattering ignorance by standing against it, without spitting back racial epithets in retaliation to racial epithets thrown, get you some! You can’t fight ignorance with ignorance and not beget more ignorance. It’s time to elevate, educate and inform. In these negatively charged times we need to surround ourselves with positive, bold, blunt people willing to stand as strongly for others as they would themselves. Start seeking out more people like that.
Bonus points if you find any who can snatch ignorance bald.
Until Part Deux, love and light to you and yours. Namaste.
She seriously bodied boul, though.
I love you, Keyana.