Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Post That Sh*t

I stood talking with a group of women who I hadn't seen in months, back in my pre-Covid life. A few spoke about how they've been keeping their families busy. We garned ideas from each other, gave the low down on a few must-do's in our area, and went about our way. It wasn't until later, as I uploaded pictures from our day, that I realized I had seen none of their adventures posted on social media. I didn't need to ask why because I already knew the answer. I've heard it from many before:

online shaming

Online shaming is a real thing. It's pointing out imperfections, cruelly telling a person they're doing something wrong. It was bad before, but since we've hit Covid times, it's gotten that much worse. People have an opinion about everything. 

Friends have admitted to not posting pictures on Facebook for fear of the backlash they may receive from simply going about life. I recall, early on in Covid, I posted about running errands with my husband. I posted how I left my house after being home for a full 10 days. Someone quickly commented "be sure to not take the kids because they shouldn't be near others." Nowhere in my post did I say we were loading our kids up in the minivan and hitting the town, nor that they were coming with us. I responded nicely with a, "no, they're at home. It's just an adults day." It made me think: why should I have to put down exactly what was happening? Why is it anyone else's concern? I could have totally put what we actually did that day and gloated about what a good human I am (we ran errands for family in the high risk category that can't go to the store themselves, for friends who were in quarantine, picking up a prescription for someone who wasn't able to do it themselves...it was my day of good deeds, but I also don't need to tell social media about every decent thing I do in life).

I didn't let that one comment dictate what I do and what I don't post. I naturally don't give a shit what people think about me, I do what I want, when my kids tell me I can (not a huge exaggeration honestly). However, I know others who have responded differently to the critism of others these days. They've stopped posting on social media, only highlighting big life events: birthdays, home purchases and moves, new lives. They skip the rest for fear of someone NOT agreeing with their life choices, critizing the things they do. I feel a twinge of boiling anger, but I quickly stop myself because although I wish online shaming would stop, I wish people would stop and think before posting "helpful" advice or comments, I realize it's not going to change. Unless we do away with social media, the shaming of all things won't stop. People feel too comfortable hidden and protected behind their devices.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for not letting the shamers get to me. Yet, as I was going through pictures to post for the weekend, I found myself unconsciously making sure I chose photos with us wearing masks or writing a quick blurb about how we were social distancing. As someone who rarely let's things get to me, I guess I DO want people know I'm not an asshole and think about others who are more vulnerable than myself right now. I do want to paint a picture of what is actually happening behind those photos.

What I want to happen is for people to post their shit. I want to see what friends, acquaintances, family, anyone else I know or don't personally know, are doing. I'd love to get a look into people's lives. I'm a person who grows in many ways when I see how others are living their lives. My own ideas grow, my opinions are formed or changed, I can decide to try something new when I see someone else give it a try, I learn. Yes, I DO get all of that from social media and beyond. I use social media to my advantage in that way. There's always going to be someone who doesn't agree with how you live your life. There's always going to be someone who feels the need to shame or comment unnecessarily. Speaking for those of us who have our opinions, but won't let those opinions stop you from having yours, post your shit. Please. Because I know I'm not the only person who went to a pumpkin patch this year or who has taken a road trip or is figuring out life in this new world.

To all of the shamers who can't seem to see beyond what's in front of them: knock it off and stop ruining things for the rest of us.