Facebook is a cesspool.
Did you know that? I knew that, but I knew it somewhere in the back of my mind, some place where I didn’t really consider it much, but it always lurked there. In other words, logically I knew Facebook (and social media) is a cesspool of trolls and cruelty, but I had never experienced it much.
Well, that certainly changed for me recently.
Some quick backstory. There is a Rhode Island donut shop called Allie’s Donuts. It’s been around for 50 years. It’s very popular and well-known (and their donuts’ are delicious). Recently they announced they would be getting rid of their military and police discount until police are held accountable for their actions. In the wake of protests, riots, police brutality and the murders of people of color simply for being people of color, it was a small stance, but it turned into a powerful one for the small, local donut shop.
I posted that I supported their stance (see image below) and well, it blew the hell up.
By saying that I supported equality and then used #normalizeequality I apparently triggered some folks who thought that what Allie’s was doing was not only wrong, it was anti-equality and anti-military and police.
But it was more than just triggering some troglodytes, the very first comment was “Nazi!” That’s it. No other context, no other words, just a woman I don’t know deciding that because I supported taking away a discount on donuts that I was a Nazi.
I was, simply put, stunned and also kind of amused.
For those that may not know, I am married to a man of color. I am a feminist, and I am, and have always been, a supporter of equal rights for all. I am as far from being a Nazi as one can be, but I am not about to explain that to someone whose go-to insult is Nazi for anyone who has an opinion different from theirs.
Well, it continued from there. I was called fat, that I had yellow teeth (WTF?), that I was liberal garbage, and that I was a piece of shit. Typical, bottom of the barrel insults trying to get under my skin.
I was also mildly threatened that some people hoped I would choke on a donut and/or that they hoped I would never need the police. I mean…seriously? That old chestnut is one that got me thinking. The police don’t work that way. They don’t decide they have been insulted by a business or person and then don’t do their jobs. And if they do work that way, then there we go, systematic issues within our police force.
I want to say that none of this got to me, that I laughed it off and went about my day, but I can’t…
Look, I want to say that none of this got to me, that I laughed it off and went about my day, but I can’t, because then some people went onto my Facebook page and decided to start leaving easy comments there – telling me to “Go fuck yourself” or “Have you ever seen a dentist?” Those people I blocked and deleted their comments. That kind of hatred will not live on my page. Ever. I know who I am, I know what I stand for, and I know that I am neither fat, nor garbage, nor have yellow teeth. I am not a Nazi. And shame on all of those people for descending into such childish attempts to shame and hurt me.
It got to me though, not because it was personal insults, but because I know that there are people who are getting it way worse than I did the other day. I know there are people who are fighting the good fight and getting harassed, threatened and treated like they don’t matter.
It breaks my heart that people are so cruel. Which sounds simplistic and naive, but I am beyond caring about what I sound like, because it’s the truth. My heart broke a little yesterday that these people exist, have families, friends, coworkers, and that they think like this person, they support this person, they learn from this person. Perpetuating hatred and cruelty for generations to come.
The fact is that arguing on Facebook is a massive waste of time. It’s like banging your head on a wall while arguing with yourself. All you end up with is a headache, feeling frustrated and needing a nap.
I won’t argue with someone who tells me I am a “Karen,” who’s the real “Karen” here?
I won’t argue with someone who says, “I must have been bullied in high school.” (I was, and I got over it).
I will laugh at someone who says that I must have been “Triggered” when they have clearly been triggered by what I said.
I will laugh when someone calls me a Nazi because guess who the potential Nazi is here?
Good people don’t get mad at stuff like this. Good people understand that there are two sides, there are reasons, and that everyone is trying to take a stand the best way they can. Sometimes that offends people, but the good people, they’ll understand.
But look, there are light spots too.
Allie’s had a huge line, and sold out of their donuts the day after their decision. People supported them in waves, and I love that. People supported me as well by saying they agreed with my opinion, and that they agree with Allie’s decision. People were amused at the Gif’s I used to respond to people — because words won’t change their minds. They want a fight, and I won’t give them a Facebook fight. But that helped, knowing that people supported me as well as Allie’s for taking a stand.
This world is a confusing, scary and dangerous place. It’s also full of light, beauty and kindness. It’s just that the angry and scary bits are so freaking loud, especially now, that it can be hard to hear the good bits.
I admit, I had moments the other day that I wanted to delete my comment, that I wanted it all to be over because it just hurt so much, and then I looked at my husband, a man of color who has been fighting this type of hatred his whole life, and I thought about all those who are dying, being hurt, and being murdered, all because of the color of their skin or their sexual preference and I realized I couldn’t take down my small comment on a small local Facebook page. That would mean the troglodytes won.
They cannot win. They will not win.
They can get under my skin, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know who I am. That doesn’t mean that I toss out all the work I’ve done to be better mentally and physically. But for those who struggle when they are torn down by the trolls of social media (and you are a troll, don’t get it twisted) I wish I could reach out and hug you and let you know you are going to be okay, and that those trolls don’t matter. It must be so sad for them, living such a hate-filled life.
The flip side is staying silent. Honestly, we are past the point where silence is acceptable. I know there is a lot to process and take in. I understand it is scary to speak up — I understand it more now than I did a day ago — and even as I type this I am afraid of what or who might find this blog and attack me, but I won’t be silent.
I won’t pretend that this stuff doesn’t matter. I won’t pretend that there isn’t problems, systemic, deadly problems in our society that need to be changed. People that need to be heard. Fights that need to be fought. And elections that need to be won.
Speaking up is hard, and I commend each and every person who is brave enough to speak up against the hatred. I applaud you and I want you to know, wherever you are, whoever you are, I hear you. I believe in you, and I support you.
This is hard. This is so fucking hard it breaks my heart every day. But I want to stand tall and say I spoke my piece. I stood behind my beliefs and I did what I could to help make the world better.
Losing self-consciousness and fear allows us to focus on the content of what we are saying instead of on ourselves. – Gloria Steinem, 1981
Let’s keep our foot on the gas, and let’s take care of one another. This fight can be won. Equality for all.
#NormalizeEquality #JusticeForThemAll #BlackLivesMatter