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Silenced

I was recovering from being ill this past week, but that wasn’t the reason I didn’t post. I actually had a post all typed out and ready to go, and yet I didn’t. The reason for this is that I’m back to the old place of trying to find that line. You know, that line that says “If you’re going to share, don’t share any more than this.”

Remember the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all“? I never thought that would become something that people can honestly say they’ve never heard before – but it actually IS happening with the younger generations. Instead, the saying (if said at all) has morphed into something more akin to: “If you don’t have something nice to say, and you’re worried about repercussions, just make sure you create a fake account and say it anonymously!” However, that’s only IF the person in question is actually worried about getting caught, which seems to be less of a concern now.

Our highest office is showcasing various public attack methods, so why would anyone else hold their tongue? I don’t plan on referencing politics very often, so don’t worry – but given that just a day or two ago our President was using profanities against those he views as his enemies at a podium (you can google it) is just one example of how things have changed at a very basic level. Once upon a time, the very idea of any of our Presidents cussing away on a tirade was completely out of the realm of possibility. Now, it’s simply the way it is, and it’s just a fact. It doesn’t matter what side anyone is on with their political leanings; things have changed.

If those individuals who are visible to all, from our political leaders to celebrities, embrace a culture of vitriol – why wouldn’t the population follow suit. I suppose one could argue the population went down that path, and this is the result in the political and celebrity sphere. Chicken or Egg… either way, this is where we are as a society. Given that, it has given me pause before publishing because I do not want to be a target of that kind of behavior – especially as I have no intention to ever join in.

When I first started blogging, myself and others came across the occasional “troll” who would post anonymously with something hateful, hoping to draw a little blood. Mostly, trolls were a pretty rare occurrence, and I remember we would all be a little taken aback when it happened to one of us. It was hurtful, even if I deleted the comments, because the sheer act of taking the time to reach out and write something in order to deliberately attack another person is a deliberate effort that someone undertook in my direction – for whatever reason.

There was one incident that will always stick in my memory, though, as a lesson to think about the person on the other side of that comment. I received a hateful and cruel comment on my blog, attacking me personally as well as my family. It was intended to be anonymous, but the author had accidentally forgotten to delete her email address from the form because she was a regular/normal commenter on my blog. I was pretty shocked when I realized who it was, because the comment was just so different from anything else she would normally post. Even the structure of the sentences were different, moving from a normal flow to something short and staccato-like, as if the hate leaked from her in sparks and flares.

I couldn’t let it go, and I decided to email her privately and ask the question we all wanted to when we get comments like that; Why? Instead of more vitriol in response, which I felt I was clearly risking, I got a completely mortified answer explaining that she actually didn’t know why she made that comment. She was having a hard time in her life, and she just lashed out. She said she was just so angry, and that being called out on it completely stunned her – not because I found her out, but because she didn’t recognize herself in her own behavior. She was sorry, and it was in earnest. She said she needed to work on her own life, and she realized that lashing out didn’t help.

I am grateful to have had that experience to remind me that even when someone is being horrible, deep-down they’re still human. In most cases. I think. Even so, especially given the changes of societal norms now, I feel nervous to put anything serious and vulnerable out there. The reason I do… I would have said we do, but I don’t know what others’ motivations might be… is because I want to feel less alone, and maybe someone else will feel that as well if they come across it.

So where’s the line. Where’s the line that you can share up to, but not past. Where you can talk about things affecting you, but stop short of where it might impact others involved. How you can say I’m hurting, scared, lost, or hopeless without causing harm or creating too large and irresistible a target?

This place will not become a heavy and sad place to visit… but sometimes life is heavy. I can’t post rainbows every time, I won’t, because that just isn’t reality. I guess as soon as I figure out that line, I’ll tackle some of those things.

Or maybe just eat a lot of chocolate.

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6 thoughts on “Silenced”

  1. Where is the line? Yeah, I hear you. I’m currently struggling with this, as well. How do you respect the privacy of others when recounting your personal story involves those others? In some cases, it’s easy. You just change the name, maybe, or generalize things so the identity isn’t known. But in some of my situations, I can change the names all I want. People are going to know who I’m talking about.

    I am thinking I need to start asking friends and family if I can include them in some posts, tell them I’m blogging again and they may come up from time to time.

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  2. Trolls are always annoying and hurtful. I would imagine it’s even worse when you discover the person behind the comment. All I can say people have issues, and more often they are not about us as it turned out to be with your troll. I just wish people didn’t take out to social media (and blogs) to lash out but work through their issues in private. We all have challenges, life isn’t always rosy and any sensible person know this.

    I hear you about “Where’s the line that you can share up to, but not past. Where you can talk about things affecting you…” My answer, it’s always a delicate process the sharing of personal stuff because it will often have an impact on others.

    As a writer, I experience this with some family members; always looking for themselves in (or getting offended by) my writings. I’ve got a novel in the pipeline that I know it’s going to elicit a lot of finger pointing but it is MY story. If I allow being bullied to silence, then I might as well take up another occupation. That said, I’ve learned how to write without hurting my relationships. It’s a tricky balance. Good luck with this!

    Sorry for the long comment, but your post are so thought-provoking. And I love reading the long form. So, keep writing! 🙂

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    1. I like long comments 🙂 Good luck with the book, I hope that whatever storm is causes settles quickly with those involved. You are right, it’s your story.

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  3. I actually had an opportunity to confront a troll that had done something similarly inane while leaving a comment. I opted against it. I blocked the person. That you got that kind of response is pretty amazing.

    So when do we get a group chocolate consumption date?

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