Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why so hateful?

Srsly, stop it...

Why so much hate?  Sometimes, as I browse through my Facebook timeline or Twitter feed, I can’t help but click on the comments of a story that I know is a “hot” topic.  I don’t know why I do it.  I know it’s going to give me pause to question why I returned to the world of social media after saying goodbye a few years ago.  I am not na├»ve to think that everyone should think like I do.  I am all for individual opinion.  However I do not think that it is crazy to believe that an individual’s opinion should not compromise another individual’s safety.  Maybe you know what I’m talking about or maybe you don’t but thinking about some of the most recent “hot” topics being shared and commented on across social media, I am sad to acknowledge that I am part of this “human” race.

Ebola.  The word itself brings up feelings of unease and the unknown.  If you limit your “knowledge” of Ebola to the sensationalized “news” reports of your local media, you might be inclined to think that there is a real threat of an Ebola pandemic in America.  You might even start to feel like this terrible virus finding its way into the United States is all part of some huge conspiracy of some sort.  There are laws in place to provide safety for the public for anyone arriving in the US who have been in Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone in the previous 21 days before coming to here.  This is a safety measure.  So many news media outlets seem to revel in the chaos they encourage when they choose to take very single preventative quarantine, even where there are no signs or symptoms, and make it an “OMG EBOLA IN OUR COUNTRY” pseudo-news story.  Pick any one of the myriad “Ebola Scare” stories on the web right now and you can likely find a number of comments about how “those people should be shot” or “send them all back where they came from” or “burn ‘em” and this makes me sad.

Street harassment.  That phrase can mean so many things, depending on the context and the person.  The video that has been recently circulating was intended to provide one person’s point of view on the subject.  People have attacked the editing of the video, saying that it shows only a racist view of street harassment.  Others will scream that those men were being nice, complementary even, and how dare she call that harassment.  What so many of the opinions are doing is negating the fact that this is what SHE felt about HER experience.  It seems it has become the general public’s right, no, responsibility to diminish a person’s feelings about how they perceive their life experiences and this makes me sad.

Fat Girl Costumes.  This one is timely since yesterday was Halloween.  Several website ran stories on one online retailer’s controversial clothing category titled “Fat Girl Costumes”.  Four of the pages I follow on Facebook alone had this story highlighted recently.  This one was a great example of a behavior I like to call “blind commenting”.  So many people seem to have huge, important opinions on social media that only make one thing glaringly obvious: they did not read the article/look at the picture(s)/watch the video.  They made a decision about something solely based on the lead title and/or picture without knowing the whole story...isn't this sort of, oh, I don't know...judging a book by its cover?  This was not a story about plus sized costumes or even fat girls.  It was about an unfortunate choice of one marketplace vendor’s words when naming the category of a certain selection of women’s costumes.  I don’t use the term “unfortunate” here because I disagree with using the term “Fat Girl” as a descriptive.  Hell, I’m a Fat Girl and I’m not afraid to use the term.  It’s only a word, a descriptive word, like thin or tall or short.  It only draws gasps and causes feelings of shame because people have allowed it to be used in a derogatory manner.  A word is only powerful in a negative way if you let it.  Commenters who said that Fat Girls should “be happy they have costumes that fit them” and need to “take a look in the mirror and put down the ice cream” and “get up off the couch once in a while” are the same kind of judgmental individuals who will take any opportunity to shame someone who is different than they appear to be.  As much as we try and break down the barriers of hate and shame that have been built up over years and years of being told what is beautiful and what is ugly, it is so ingrained into the average American’s psyche, I believe that even those of us who are actively fighting against these stereotypes and profiling still find themselves fighting that fight internally every day, which makes it ever more difficult to turn the other cheek when it comes at us from others and that makes me sad.
 
Renee Zellweger.  Love her or not, she has reemerged into the public eye.  Bridget Jones, Jerry Maguire, Reality Bites, Me, Myself & Irene...pretty sure we've all seen at least one movie with Ms. Zellweger.  She removed herself from the limelight for quite some time.  No one "needs" to know why or what she was doing, she's completely entitled to live her life privately.  As she returns to the big screen, she bring herself back to the red carpet and, unwittingly, into a firestorm of the public's harsh and cruel scrutiny.  "Why did she ruin her face like that", "she used to be so pretty", "what the hell happened to her face".  No, Renee, I think you look great and congrats on your upcoming film.  I am happy that she found a project that she was excited about.  So, public, you would prefer that she go under the knife or needle to conform to what your expectations of her looks are?  Wow, that's pretty f*d up and that makes me sad.
 
There are so many other things and events that people glom onto to spread their hate.  If you find yourself wanting to respond to a story about a person – a HUMAN BEING – by deciding that they should die, maybe think what that is saying about you as a HUMAN BEING.  Yes, there are heinous acts that are carried out by humans every day and that is horrible.  And of course people have the right to be appalled, horrified and angry and even confused at these acts.  Child abuse, terrorism, rape, animal cruelty…all horrific things that I wish would just stop…but they’re out there.  How does wishing death or violence on that person go toward making change in society as a whole?  I am no idealist.  I do not consider myself a pacifist.  I have even found myself, in the midst of an awful personal experience, thinking how the person causing me pain should feel the same pain they’re causing me.  I think that is a common coping mechanism but it’s a fleeting thought and it passes as quickly as it arrives.  You don’t dwell on it and you certainly wouldn’t put it in black and white on the world wide interwebz…..would you?  Those who take news stories and such things so intensely personal and choose to lash out and wish harm to others, well, that makes me sad and I’m really tired of being so sad every time I scroll through Facebook and Twitter.

Rather than being sad, I have decided to make this into an opportunity.  An opportunity to weed out all of the pages and people that bring my smile down.  I will no longer engage those commenters, not even to ask why they are so filled with hate, because it never changes their opinion or outlook anyway.  It’s just giving them what they wanted to begin with, undeserved attention.  Life is hard enough.  My sadness ends here.
I dare you to look at this and not be happy...
 
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