If you prevent the oxygen, the "haters" will suffocate in silence.
That sounds eloquent, right?
I can't count how many times I've been told to ignore. To stick to the message. To stop giving "free air space."
I understand the well-meaning intent behind the words and from those who say it. They say it because they want it to be true. They say it because they believe it's the right way to support me. The problem is, silence isn't working, hasn't been working (for anyone), and — and now I'm convinced — probably never was working, other than to enable the harassers and the abusers who continue along without the fear of being challenged on their behavior — all because we tell ourselves that ignoring this behavior demonstrates we're taking the high road.
Some high road that is.
Maybe it's a controversial approach — to turn on the flashlight. Maybe people feel silence is polite or mature. When people tell me to not comment and then "it will stop," I realize that, because of my silence, so many will never grasp the true scope of all I do ignore. Of all I'm silent about. Of all you won't learn in this short blog.
Were you shocked by this picture?
I wasn't. As I was laying in bed, waiting to see if it was time for AB2's bottle, I popped online. It appeared in my inbox. I rolled over to my husband, laughing.
I laugh because I'm not shocked. I laugh because every day, when I see that someone sent me a "photo," I open with anxiousness, expecting to lay eyes on the latest lie or meme about me. And 99% of the time, that's what those pictures or screenshots are.
I laugh because while for many, you are just now hearing — to an extent — what's been going on, this is my reality day in and day out. Every single day. All day long. And sure, I've played my role. I won't pretend. I hold and share strong opinions. I've made poor post choices. Mistakes are plentiful around these parts. I won't pretend to be surprised that there are people who dislike me for a myriad of reasons. I learned a long time ago that it's too much work to try and please everyone and that you can't spend your whole life answering for a person you no longer are.
I laugh when my husband jokes that my murder will make a great Lifetime movie. I laugh when we estimate the over/under on how many people in Conejo Valley rabidly hate me. I laugh, because it's the only response I can have at this point.
I mean, there are multiple hate pages dedicated to yours truly. I have Truthers... who, um, reveal "the truth" by collaging public comments I made on my public page, publicly! Like that's a real thing. I've seen posts where a group of people were organizing to COME TO MY HOUSE on the night of Mike Dunn's censure. They were advised by their group's admin not to proceed with their plans. I've seen almost every organization I'm affiliated with receive calls filled with threats, lies about me, or both.
Tell me, at what point is asking someone to be silent more about a comfort level or perceived idea of "taking the high road" than recognizing we have a real problem if we're annoyed by those who finally say ENOUGH.
Because I'm saying it.
I'm done being quiet about it. I'm done attempting to please others' comfort levels by remaining silent. I'm done being told to "stick to the message." What message? It's my page. I've got lots of them. I'm done being told what is best for me to write about and how best I can appease someone with the content on my page. I'm done because, "If you aren't in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I'm not interested in your feedback." (Brene Brown).
I'm done being silent because these are teachable moments. These are moments and behaviors and actions we can use to learn what's appropriate. If they're never spoken about, it's easy for people to deny we have a real problem in the way in which we communicate and in the way in which we disagree with one another. I had a discussion with a friend recently who suggested that we have lost the art of discourse. I wondered... did we ever have it to begin with?
It used not to be polite to talk about politics at the dinner table or with friends. It was taboo. At the soccer field you talked about the weather or school events. It was not long ago that people lived without devices that can upload us in a second, from multiple different platforms, on everything from pop culture to world events. Never before have we experienced such an influx and ease of opinions and articles at the tip of our fingers — on demand.
We now have to learn to navigate what technology means for how we educate ourselves and how we interact with people we never had experience being exposed to before.
That doesn't happen overnight. But it also doesn't ever happen if we don't address the elephant in the room that we're trying to hide in the closet.
We all know how to agree with one another. Maybe it's time we take a real hard look at how we disagree with each other.