Last night, I lost an acquaintance. Not to death, but to Facebook blocking. I had Liked several comments by a stranger stating in a very rational manner that a post using the word “rape” to describe a non-actual-rape situation was inappropriate. The commentor, the survivor of a horrible trauma, was far more calm and collected than I would have been, especially in the face of opposition from the original poster and a fourth party. I decided to take the OP’s advice to not comment myself and hit Unfriend because they were not a good enough acquaintance to tolerate their quirky “non-PC sense of humor” — and then found out the OP took it another step further and Blocked me.
Consider the following ironies:
- The OP posted a “#metoo” status earlier.
- The OP is a liberal artsy type who abhors our current president yet apparently doesn’t mind participating in the rape culture he perpetuates (“it’s just locker room talk”) that allows the OP to be harassed at their job on a regular basis — and then they followed 45’s example by Blocking those who dared to speak up and share a different opinion. [Heck, I didn’t even speak, I just Liked.]
I 100% fully understand that the OP has the right to post whatever and block whomever they darn well please. I do not claim to never make a joke that may be in poor taste. We all have our lines in the sand, and that is fine. But in the reign of 45 in general, and on a day when social media is being flooded with stories of sexual harassment and assault in specific, it is one thing to describe an example of capitalism in action as rape [Although, no. They may both be about power, but only one do you have a choice to participate in.] — and totally another to then belittle a survivor for calling out you out for minimizing the word. I was appalled on so many levels. This was a person whose beliefs echo many of my own, who I was proud to know for doing so much in our community. Their choice to immediately go on the attack when confronted with a differing opinion was shocking.
Contrast this with Project Runway last week. After some… drama (no spoilers!)… those who started said drama, yet were ultimately in the right, showed humility and a willingness to accept that they handled things poorly. Yes, I know that there is a lot of editing done on these “reality” shows, but they showed one designer’s first comment to be an apology to Tim for storming off stage, not an attack on the person who, ultimately, was shown to be in the wrong. Another designer was unwilling to “throw someone under the bus” when first questioned by Heidi. The show could have been edited to show all thrown accusations and raised voices, but it wasn’t, so maybe it really did happen in the responsible way I want to think it did.
All of this to say: it’s not that we must be perfect, it’s how we deal with being imperfect. Or with others who think we are, even when we’re sure we’re right. There is a difference between showing a dark sense of humor and showing how dark your heart is by attacking someone who is trying to have a meaningful and mature conversation. And you may be right and you absolutely have the right to disparage others’ beliefs — but what do you get out of that? The self satisfaction of proclaiming your opinion in bits and bytes like the toddler on Twitter in the White House?
And you know what, maybe you’re not right. And maybe you need to listen to constructive criticism because part of the beauty of life is that we are capable of changing. It may be awkward and uncomfortable to admit our own biases or privilege or ignorance, but that is where we find the best art and the best understanding of life.
I am grateful for these two wonderful reminders of grace and restraint through, of all places, social media and reality TV. May I strive to speak with truth and kindness, as well. Let’s change the world. Or at least not be jerks.
[featured photo from Pinterest. A Google image search was not helpful in looking for the original artistic attribution.]
ETA – just saw this great article about “Me, Too” — https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-me-too-campaign-was-created-by-a-black-woman-10-years-ago_us_59e61a7fe4b02a215b336fee