My usage of Social Media, and by which I really mean Twitter as that is the only platform this side of my personality uses tends to ebb and flow with my mood. I have mentioned before how it can be both my safe place and somewhere that can be a source of pain. The most frequent cause of pain being when users sometimes forget that when they embark on one of their keyboard crusades, they are actually dealing with real people with real emotions and real feelings, not just a faceless entity sat at another screen whom they will never meet.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for bringing people together, but it can also be a weapon of horrifying divisiveness, when self-appointed champions of whatever cause the believe in stir up their cohorts of followers into a frothing mob, directing their ire upon those whom they feel have wronged them.
Sadly, the more tolerant, supportive side and inclusive of twitter is all too easily consumed by the nastier, hurtful side; the side that is convinced that they are right and that that gives them the right to vilify any who dare disagree with them.
The shame of it is, is that in so many ways, the beliefs that are shared, the goals that are being strived for are aligned and yet rather than build on that commonality of purpose, there are those who would seek to divide. Whether that be to achieve some sought-after pre-eminence, or simply for the sake of stroking their egos, some people believe that they are simply more important than others, that their voice carries more authority, that their opinion is more right, and that anyone who disagrees is, in some way, part of the "other" against whom the fight must be taken to.
Most of us, however, are simply just doing the best we can. None of us are perfect and we all make very human mistakes. When those mistakes are identified, most of us apologise and redouble our efforts not to make them again. Some, however, not only refuse to acknowledge the mistakes others make, or the apologies that are expressed in respect of those mistakes; they refuse to admit that they themselves are fallible. Should a transgression even be acknowledged, it is justified on the grounds that it is in the name of a greater cause and that alone excuses it.
There is a word for such people. It's not a nice word, but it is short, direct, and cannot be misinterpreted; these people are, to put it bluntly, bullies. They accept no responsibility for the pain they cause others. They lash out when anyone attempts to take their behaviour to task. They deflect criticism and use it as evidence of how they are the ones being wronged. They are like Jack, in Lord of the Flies, demanding: "Who will join my tribe?"
The quote this week was:
But feelings can’t be ignored, no matter how unjust or ungrateful they seem.
This post has been an expression of my feelings; a reflection of the turmoil that has been fermenting over the past couple of weeks, and an extension of my previous post, and more.
It is an acknowledgement that everyone's feelings and emotions are valid; there is no monopoly on being right, or wrong. It is an admission that, when one experiences pain, sometimes lashing out at those we feel responsible for inflicting it is natural, but that we should never automatically assume that "being natural" is the same as "being right", nor does it give us any particular rights.
At the start of this post, I mentioned how, as it is for so many, Twitter is my "safe space". It is where I can come to howl at the moon and unburden myself of the worries and concerns that weigh me down. Like many, I find this aspect of it to be hugely beneficial; I know I can reach out when I need and someone will be there to offer me what support they can. In return, when the needs of others are greater than my own, I can reach out to offer whatever succour I can. In these less than certain times, I believe we are all feeling things more acutely, that things we would normally take in our stride are having a much deeper and more profound effect. We all use Twitter and other social media channels in ways that allow us freedom of expression and we need to be mindful of the fact that with that freedom comes the need to be responsible as to how we employ it. Freedom of expression does not give people the right to be deliberately hurtful, it does not bestow any special freedom from our duty to be respectful, it absolves no one from the need to act like a decent human being and maybe pause to consider the effect on others of what we are about to say.
Times are difficult for so many just now. We need to stand together where we can, put aside differences that serve no purpose, and not fight amongst ourselves making it easier for those who benefit from our disunity to use it against those who most need our support.
We can all do better and it is the responsibility of all of us to try to do so.