So I don’t know how to put this any other way.
I have been trying to write something more about the negativity and angst that I keep feeling on the internet for a long time now.
I wrote this “Be Kind Online” post, which is a topic dear to my heart as my work and passion immediately before having kids was digital rights and online issues for youth.
I personally perceived it to be a really positive way to try and give my thoughts on some stuff without getting too heavy… Not because I don’t like getting “heavy” on things but because PEOPLE NEVER READ MY HUGE LONG POSTS.
I am trying to share the similar messages and seek social change in the same areas as the people who I even had constructive criticism on that post alone about.
They told me I minimalizing things and trivialising issues that were huge.
To be fair I never said anything more than “be kind online” this wasn’t a particularly targeted answer to a loaded question.
This was just me reminding other mums of some of the aspects of a previous campaign I had worked on. These mums seem to be doing this “pack mentality” thing online even worse than the kids being bullied and killing themselves that I was always talking about before having children of my own.
I “left” that campaign, I didn’t really ever leave the topic I guess but I couldn’t be the driving force of that project the same when I had a real life baby of my own in my arms.
I am emphatic by nature. I u-turned on aspirations to become a psychologist earlier in my life cause I realised that actually, I would take on the problems of these people too much, that I wouldn’t be able to give myself the distance I needed to maintain self-care.
Once I had Josh, I was just like straight up, looked at James, “I can’t talk to people about the risk of children killing themselves if we don’t help them with these issues anymore. I can’t even say the words youth suicide without crying…”
Obviously I know retrospectively, that was probably just like hormones and I probably would have cried saying “potato” but that’s not the point…
I am crippled by the “rules” and anger on these topics to be honest.Like I get it, I feel it too and all the stuff surrounding it is totally valid and justified…
BUT maybe we are looking at it wrong?
It feels like we are looking for someone to blame? Someone to hold responsible?
Marriage counselling if nothing else taught me that in conflict resolutions, focusing on who was responsible for what did nothing to help.
Yes you have a chance to express your perspective. That valid. You need to be heard and the other person needs to learn from hearing of your experience.
Then you have to do the same for them.
Then you move on from that, check your emotionally luggage and move forward.
This is if you’re trying to resolve conflict right. I’m not telling people what they have to do I am telling you what the marriage counsellor we went to told us to do.
So issues and hate online makes me really scared we’re missing the point of these conversations in the first place again!
The world fucked up.
Somewhere along the line, our current social structure and power models got fucked up.
Or some could argue they were from the start.
History shows us many awful examples. Current global politics is enough of an example of how much it is still fucked up.
But every parent is trying to do the best they can for their children with the tools, resources and support they have.
Some of us have more than others.
Information and empowerment are definitely big advantageous ones.
When we shame people or critize the choices other people and parents have made, we are not adding empowerment and nor are they in a position to truly learn from the information
So what could we do…
Yes there is hurt, valid real painful hurt and frustration, like blood curdling, tear out you hair frustration… I know this as I experience it to, that’s the thing about privilege, most of us experience both sides of that (unless of course we are a rich white powerful man in the 1% of society, which seems strange to think I probably need to remind everyone- I AM NOT!)
But these problems and ways of thinking are actually systemic! Our systems and power sources define the outlines of our cultures and in turn how we “act as a society”.
They are engrained in the way we once upon a time decided to “set up our world” and its power systems.
The world has changed and continues to.
The industrial revolution is the change that made our current work models which are in the majority of what many of us convinced them to be – you go to an office from this time to this time and do what someone at the top tells you what to do…
WHY? Because we needed a central power source (a water wheel or something) and lighting and power and this whole aspect of our lives was new to us as a collective and the dude running the factory had to pay for it.
Does that mean that in current in our worlds now?
No. Obviously, not at all.
The internet made the world different and technology continues to change the way we interact.
But it’s still just about talking!
We are social creatures humans, so connection is a huge thing for our sense of selves.
I feel like I need to explain Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and also aspects of pedagogical and andragogic here but that’s an entirely separate post… (its late, I am squeezing writing in the dark hours because, well kids and I can’t think when they keep wanting things! Geez :P)
And also WE ARE SOCIETY. We make up this dynamic too.
We are not passive creations that need to be forced into something. People in power set rules, I view it that if we don’t understand them or why we are there, then we can ask why.
That it is a democratic right to ask why.
There is no emotion loaded in me doing that. I am asking a question.
I want to understand things. I am not saying they are wrong or right…
I am saying, “I don’t know enough about this to understand, can you please tell me why that rule is there so I get it better?”
But as someone who was taught this concept very strongly by my paternal grandfather who was a Minister for the Unity Church and my father who was a very successful businessman but definitely not considered himself a christian who were both MEN, I have faced my own struggles following this advice as a girl or woman.
Power models and business are strongly associated with traditional masculine gender stereotypes.
This does damage to all of us – What does it mean to “be a man”?
But when I ask why, I am not told, “that’s a good question young man” like I know my Dad was often as a kid even when he was being a shit stirrer and much more “cheeky” than I could ever get away with…
I am told things like “confrontational”, “aggressive”, “combative” – this is on the internet- I have no tone in written word right… Like people do get that?
I am not saying “WHY IS THIS RULE THERE?” *screaming shouty face styles* I am saying like “why is this rule there?” *with probably some kind of shrug or hand gesture to point cause I talk with my hands a lot as well*
If you understand WHY someone tells you something, then you can decide if you do or don’t think its relevant to you or in your case.
Its about clarity. Its about understanding. Its about sharing that with people who don’t. Empowering. Educating. BUT that can be done with kindness…
And I know I have already said that I would like to focus on the positive shit and doing cool fun things and finding different ways to share these messages but THIS, just writing this, makes me all rage status.
I am not effective when I am pounding the keyboard and screaming at people. That is scary. I can be pretty full on.
I have a tendency to get “manic”. If you know me in person you know what I mean no doubt.
I am high energy and in ya face kind of person. I do realise I have the power to use that and my privilege to create change and intend to do so, please don’t think I don’t care or am not constantly considering all these many things.
But for my own SELF CARE (I am allowed to make those boundaries, which is my right and responsibility to myself and my family) I cannot participate when it feels like this…
This kind of tension, it will either make me ALLLL CAPS RAGE EVERYWHERE ON ALL THE MESSAGES THREADS AND GROUPS OF FBLAND which in turn makes me an angry, worked up, short tempered person to live with… OR… I can continue to educate myself on these topics and continue to “lurk” in the shadows of some groups and block all notifications from others.
Again, don’t get upset with me. That is my right.
If I left the group I feel I would be walking away from important learnings but if I stay in the active conversations the “party” isn’t going to be the right kind for me, personally.
I want to do more cool and different shit and sometimes silly ways to create positive change in the world now. I tried the other way. I have plenty more stories I could share about how that didn’t work as well for me…
I am trying to find ways that make me still an ok mum and person too…
And like I am forever saying to my battling close in age boys, “BE KIND!”
So I am taking some of my own advice and being kind to myself too.