Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Why I Don't Speak Out More...

Think of this as me hiding under my duvet from Twitter and potentially letting my tea go cold in the process.
I have realised that, for my sanity, I have to take a regular Twitter detox. I find Twitter so incredibly stressful nowadays, to the point where it is keeping me up at night worrying, stressing and getting annoyed over it. There are a number of reasons I find Twitter so stressful but the main one that plays on my mind is to do with how people engage with each other about politics, beliefs etc. People who are 'engaged' with the issues on both ends of the political and social spectrum. People who are vocal and will discuss these issues.

 I don't mean that I dislike these people because I, too am one at heart. Part of me wants to join in and call people out in their crap and post about issues I care about. I want people to know that I care, that I am engaged. That I have been very active in feminist, anti cuts, anti fascist movements since I was a teenager, I've founded groups, organised big demonstrations, spent hundreds of hours in endless meetings. You probably would never know that from my social media/ blog feed though. I find it uncomfortable to talk about. I just get so stressed talking about these things on social media because of the hate from both sides.

 On the one hand, I can't cope with the shit from straight up trolls. I wish I could call people out on their shit more, because I see so much vileness, but I just can't take it. I get so scared. Maybe that sounds like a cop out but I am just being honest. I personally can't let arguments, even online with people I have never met, go. I won't sleep or eat because of them. They occupy my thoughts constantly. Even ones I had years ago I will still obsess about. It's not good.  I have had a lot of conflict in my life and I just think I am spent. I also suffer badly with anxiety and Twitter is sometimes my biggest trigger.

 I do though think it is important. Some people don't like this way of communicating and just say "others are allowed their opinion" and yes, if you are doing that, that's fine. However people shouldn't just be able to spout hate. And when they are unwilling to change or listen, there isn't always a lot to do but call them out. I do think it's okay to call someone an arsehole, when they are really being one. I have tried navigating the delicate process of effectively calling someone out on their shit, without getting their back up. Making sure that it doesn't just make them hate your argument and counterproductively reaffirm the belief you are trying to explain is problematic, when they may have been open to new ideas. Again though, I find it so difficult and anxiety producing, even when it is civil, I am tenterhooks the entire time. I really do admire people who do both of these things, I think it takes guts. 

Sadly, what I find more difficult though, is shit from the 'other side', if you will. People whose politics align with your own (mostly) but who seem to use it in a bad way. I am talking about those who use their politics as a way of building up some kind of self-importance, so they can knock others down. Judge everyone who isn't as active as they are or as knowledgeable. 

I totally get those who find dealing with triggering shit stressful (I am one) and wanting to call people out but that's not what I am talking about. I am talking about, bascially, snobbery. I don't want to engage in these issues often because I am scared more of the people who agree with me, in principal, more than those who don't. I don't want to engage with a sneering comment thread about how shit everyone else is or get into a subtle contest of who is the better activist. I see this a lot in feminist movements, both online and IRL.

There is a difference between wearing pride and wearing something so that you can put others down who may not have had the same access to education as yourself. I'm not saying take shit from people but there is a difference between someone who is unaware and someone who is hateful. I am NOT saying that people should 'tone' it down or stay silent. I think that would put things so far backwards. But I just see so much disempowerment of others who are an ally because they wanna be better than them. Like they have to prove that they know more, act more, do more, are more. Like they are better. Shouldn't we want everyone to be the best, together? Encourage that if and where we can?

Sure, there are a lot of people who do need to be told to fuck off because their language or actions are damaging to others but I often see more energy spent in being weirdly competitive with each other than uniting. I'm glad that people seem to be coming more aware, it's great and I think will really create positive change but using that knowledge to bring yourself up and push others down puts us further back. It personally stops me interacting and I would bet a lot many others also feel isolated.

 Fearing your allies is worse than fearing your enemies. I think it's a sad time when you are scared of people who should be supportive but would rather judge than be with you. If you find me missing of social media (mostly Twitter) this is probably why. This post is honestly not aimed at anyone specific. It's more of a culture that seems to have emerged and is enacted through varying differing degrees. I have been feeling this way for a really long time and just had to get it off my chest...

Sorry for the rant and I hope that made sense! 

Let me know your thoughts! 

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