This past weekend my sister posted a funny video depicting millennials in a job interview. We both have teenaged daughters, which made it funny because we see the likeness in our own children. I personally saw it funny because the much older interviewer referred to “technological skills” as knowing how to operate within Microsoft Excel — Which any career IT person will tell you, does not qualify as being skilled in technology. The juxtaposition that made it even more humorous was that the young girl in the video saw technical skills to mean her knowledge of Snap Chat, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and of course, they were both on the same side of being totally wrong in their assessment – from an insider’s perspective. The age gap was quite clear in that brief moment.
A young woman who follows my sister on this social media site happened to see this post and immediately took offense. At first I thought her remarks were sarcastic humor and laughed at them, until she kept commenting when no one was responding to her. Now, she made the personal choice as she was scrolling to stop on a post that was clearly making fun of her age group, in its title. She then made the choice to click on and watch said video, and then furthered that effort with commenting on it, repeatedly, until she received a response. Looking for a fight? Possibly — But that is not what I responded with. Instead I felt sorry for her lack of understanding and sense of humor, for what the real world actually looks like today. I felt the same kind of need to encourage her and assist in her seeing the reality of it, as I would for my own daughters. I responded with kindness and respect in trying to convey to her that we do not see the world’s problems as hers or her generation’s, but that criticism is all part of everyone’s existence. Every generation before her and every generation after hers has to face the same kind of ridicule for their generation, and we all learned to take it in stride and grow a thick skin in order to make it in this world.
As she came back telling me how I didn’t understand what it was like, I responded, again kindly, with how much I have faced judgment throughout my own life as a teenager and even now as a woman. Facing attacks based on many reasons, such as politics, beliefs, the way that I look, the career that I chose, etc. That is the very most that I said about politics. My personal social media page is private, all of it only shared among friends – A very small few whom most I have known closely for many years or all of my life and the rest, family/family friends. I have even the pages that I follow set for my view only. This young woman somehow hacked into my social media (mind you we are not acquainted, nor are we friends) and was able to see the pages and people that I had just begun following that same day. Her response was to tell me how glad she was and hoped that I am attacked every day seeing as how I follow a certain person (a well-known and dynamic young journalist). I didn’t think twice except to say that it creeped me out, when as soon as I said the word “politics,” she hacked into my account to see anything about my politics in order to attack me.
My sister stepped in before I could, and shut the conversation down, as the girl proceeded to tell me how offensive and wrong I was based on her assumptions of whom she believes I support, politically. My sister then deleted the entire post, which to me was not right. It was my sister’s page and she had every right to post what she saw fit, without the need to cater to anyone else’s liking. I thought that I was done with it. I still felt very sad for the girl that all of the insight which I was giving to her, went in one ear and out the other. My truth is that of an under-educated, minority woman, who was a teenage mother and wife, whom also educated herself in a male dominant field, which landed her a great career and equal pay, by working hard. I was shocked that my story could be deemed as offensive or wrong. I wanted the girl to see that she too, could have whatever career she desired no matter what she was up against, socially, as long as she worked hard to obtain it — Just as I and countless others before me, have done.
Starting from that conversation’s ending and every single day since, I have been getting spammed on my blog by phony e-mail accounts – Which is opposite of the normal that I typically see. Could it be this girl, I do not know, but it is highly coincidental and I am not one to believe in coincidences. Now, I am fairly new to this world of blogging, but I do know how quickly someone can grab any one of my articles and post them to as many hate-stirring sites as they want to. As well as write their own reviews of me so that my name and credibility as a blogger/writer is tainted. I am starting out and bad reviews for something I write is one thing that I would proudly own responsibility for, but bad reviews because someone has a grudge based on assumptions is something I’m not crazy about and could put this dream career of mine, dead in the water before it even takes off.
On the flip side, I am astonished that we live in a day and age where it is acceptable to attack someone’s business and way of life, all due to a person’s opinion of a page followed on social media. As a writer we have to hold near and dear the Freedom of Speech and Press. But it seems today because of the ones who have used this freedom to attack others and spew vitriol, it has become common place and acceptable for the rest of the world to operate in the same likeness. The bar has been set very low for the newest generations on propriety and respect, across the board.
I do not write about politics. I keep that part of my life private among those that I love and trust. For one, who truly knows the facts in politics other than the ones who are directly in it? I learned a few years ago as I watched mine and my family’s name be decimated by people who were hell bent on carrying their torch for fictionally created scenarios, that you can’t judge any situation unless you are directly in the center of it to witness the goings on. Otherwise you just really don’t know what the truth is and what it isn’t. Nothing is more infuriating than to be called a liar and slandered up one side and down the other, by people who have no first-hand knowledge of what you personally experienced, for themselves. And no, the ones that I share my opinions with often do not share in the same, but to me that is what makes this country and this world such a remarkable place! I enjoy hearing the differences of opinions because it expands my own mind as a human being. If I walked through this life always unopposed, I would never learn anything! We get to have a peaceable disagreement, and learn more about each other through that. To add to that, if I don’t agree with something that I see, to the point that it stirs me up inside, I leave it alone – Not counter-attack.
I did not share anything with this young woman that I wouldn’t or haven’t shared with the world in general. I shared my story and what my experiences taught me. I did not disparage, name call or criticize. I definitely had no ill will for her life, as she did mine. She felt offended by a video that she chose to watch and comment on and as soon as she hacked my page, she found a reason to fuel her initial cause for fight. A fight that I was not willing to give her and did not engage in.
But to that same degree, if I had actually made it political or argued any of my beliefs, would it then be okay for her to hack into my private social media account and possibly spam my blog, due to a difference of opinion? In my opinion, no. Everyone that I know believes something different. They each have their own moral compass that leads them to their truths and we don’t attack each other. If they say something directly to me, I answer with the facts as I know them to be, and only that. If we are speaking opinions, I choose my words carefully because my opinion really doesn’t matter. This is where we are today though, as a society.
There is a clear and definitive line that has been drawn, by our media, what we see on TV and hear on the radio, our celebrities, sports figures and politicians. A narrative that leads us to believe that we either fall on one side of that line or the other — When human thought is really the greyest of areas. What gives me any right to attack another person’s life, character and integrity based on an opinion? Nothing does. And yet 90% of the shows on television right now are hatemongering, one-sided, politically-driven and bash an entire population of people, based on political affiliation. Is it just me or does that seem a tad bit insane? It’s almost become a new form of bullying by adults, trolling others who do not share in their same ideology, just to defile their page as if that person is the one personally and single-handedly responsible for all of the societal injustices. It’s crazy-making how hypocritical we have become. “It’s okay for me to use my right to free speech, but since your ideals oppose mine, you are not allowed that same freedom. I will scream, cry, name call, accuse and shut you down, never hearing a word you said.” The level of intolerance is astounding.
I write my truth. Not the truth as it pertains to anyone else. I write what has been true for me based on my experiences. I do not write to offend or step on anyone’s toes. If I did, then I would expect the spam and slander. Anyone in a journalistic field with the goal to spread a specific message, do so knowing that they will likely face ridicule or reproach. They have accepted that as just a part of what they do. They know that they will be discredited by many who do not share their same opinions. I am not a journalist. I am a writer, and a blogger as a therapeutic hobby. I write things to inspire myself and others. I write to give hope and resolve to anyone who is searching for it. No matter what any of us believe in or about, we could all use a little encouragement and inspiration every once in a while. This site is called Breaking to Mend, for a reason. It’s not “Elizabeth’s Opinions Take It or Leave It.” It isn’t intended to harm anyone, but to help myself mend within my own life. It is a reflection of who I am and the ever-evolving journey which I have been on for the past few years.
So what do you do, when who you are and what you do are under attack and at the mercy of a stranger’s assumptions? The more that I continually see our freedom of speech being impeded, leaving it to a freedom that only those who agree are allowed to have, the more that I want to crawl in a hole and never come out. This is not the world that I once knew. The world that I knew was accepting of individual thought. It was accepting of change and each person’s own journey. It gave equal freedom to everyone alike, to speak their truth and do so without fear that they would be attacked for simply having an opposing ideal. It’s disheartening to know that it is only okay to freely speak now, if you can regurgitate the same line of thought as the one beside you and if you can’t — You must stay silent or face a consequence far passed what is warranted. I sincerely hope that it changes, and soon. Or my own daughter’s will be staring down the depressing reality of a world far removed from its people’s individuality, which has made life up until now, so awe-inspiring.