The socials have the ability to educate, entertain, connect, conspire, and also to distract, deter, overwhelm, and act like a maniacal bully demanding that you do multiple, contradicting actions simultaneously.
Utter interconnectivity is a great gift that’s finally tearing down the walls of systemic separations across the board and opening up a planetary platform for actual people to opine, outrage and, when appropriate (or not), add levity.
I want to talk to everyone here, including those of you who lean to the side of silent reflection and the more quiet consumption of new information, yet care way too much to be complicit.
When it comes to politics and social justice issues, not everyone feels comfortable posting and engaging on social media, not everyone feels comfortable on the streets, or behind a bullhorn. Not everyone can handle the backlash of creating inflammatory writing and art. But, I’m so glad there are people who CAN handle this.
I just want to recognize the pressure to do these things in an environment where it feels like your moves, or lack of them, are on display. I want to recognize the guilt connected with needing to consume all the words, all the videos, and the voices to stay informed, despite its toll on your health.
In fact, if you have clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD, or you are extremely sensitive, social media may legitimately be counterproductive to your health and your work.
Silence DOES equal complicity when silence is defined as doing nothing whatsoever, turning a blind eye. But there are many ways to use your voice. Not all of them are loud or publicly posted.
Remember, not everyone can handle the behind-the-scenes empathic work either – so glad some people can.
All the voices are valuable.
1.The voice inside of your own head
If your internal dialogue is primarily around self-flagellation, angst, and crippling guilt, then you may not even be available for a compassionate debate with other humans. (But also, you might be. Perfecting yourself is NOT a prerequisite for being capable of caring conversation, but the elimination of subconscious projectiles and your general peace of mind is a plus.)
Start by learning to edit and re-narrate your story about your own self and worth. Wherever you land in the spectrum of social inequality is NOT YOUR FAULT. I repeat: It’s not your fucking fault. So, you don’t have to feel guilty (white people). You don’t have to be ashamed. You don’t need to suffer the suffering of the sufferers who handed you the lies. You were simply handed lies. Lies about your personal worth, and lies about the worth of other people that were based on factors that are unrelated to their basic humanity.
You don’t have to feel guilty for having feelings about it. That’s fucking normal. Feel the feelings. But then, instead of looking outward for validation that you’re still a great person (you probably are), focus on taking some kind of action. Reality may not always be palatable, but is a gift to be delivered into it. We get to start taking actions based on truth now.
Start by stopping the internal whipping. Stop the whipping by seeking mental or medical help, turning to your friends, your family, or your community for support. TAKE CARE OF YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH. Read, rebalance, remind yourself to focus on the many things that make you amazing and flex your muscles of empowerment – your power is needed. Do whatever it takes to put on your oxygen mask.
2. The voice you use with your children
Remember that the voice inside your own head is the one you often project onto your children, so your internal voice work is crucial.
If you’re a parent, especially if you’re a single parent, feel free to stop reading this list here and get off the socials all together.
(Feel free to stop reading this and get off the socials all together no matter what.)
Let us raise up the next generation of humans with actual life skills. Let’s teach them to listen, to have empathy, to honor their sensitivities and show up with strength. Let’s raise children who are armed with resources and resourcefulness. Let’s support them to be humans who respect their own bodies and the bodies of others. Let’s raise children who know how to suffer, for fucks sake. And then, how to alleviate the suffering of others. This requires raising children who understand that they are NOT, in fact, royalty. They are not princes and princesses. They cannot dream it and magically become it, but they can make shit happen. Let us raise children who understand the actual price of success, and how to succeed. Let us teach them how to work hard and rest well – how no one achieves anything without help. How to have the courage to commit to something. How to lead. How to follow. How to value humanity over sociopathy. How to love and be loved. How to mediate and moderate, rather than the all or nothing thinking of addiction and depression. And let’s practice the hell out of forgiving ourselves for doing it wrong. Do your best.
Your doing a great job already. Just so you know.
3. The voice you use with your family
Weigh your obligations against your ideology. Some families are legitimately toxic and should be avoided. You and your therapist can sort this out, but here is your permission to open up a whole new set of options about how to stay sane in a sociological sandstorm. Arguing with your family rarely engenders vast social change. Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run. Hold them accountable, but hold yourself even more accountable. Maybe your time is better spent with an audience that will benefit from your opinions, rather than creating a war among your DNA-mates. To the best of your ability, evenly divide the emotional labor. Get counseling. Find time to spend collectively planning your future. Family of origin, found family, earth family. Breathe.
4. The voice you use in your community
Ways you can get into the community: donate, volunteer, share information, buy locally, don’t be a dick. Don’t sit quietly while someone at work or in the streets is being a dick to someone else. If you aren’t comfortable stepping in, step out and contact someone who can. Refuse to participate in conversations that are harmful to others. Leading by example is paramount, so be impeccable with your words. Do keep practicing #1 so you are comfortable enough in your own skin to carry more fire with more grace. You might have to burn something down with it once in awhile.
5. The voice you use publicly
If you do have a public platform you have free speech, so use it however you like. It’s best for everyone when you use it to amplify your best work and the best work of others. Use your platform to raise up, raise up, raise up. Use your platform with the understanding that you have the awesome power and responsibility of the internet. Be thoughtful. Be insightful. And if you wish, please be incite-ful.
If you are someone who can articulate rage and rally the troops, by all means – PLEASE DO THE SHOUTING.
It’s all of our responsibility to monitor our own intake. If others shouting makes you uncomfortable, well, it’s probably supposed to. If someone’s silence of awkwardness makes you uncomfortable, don’t rush to assume they’re stupid or complicit. Let’s hang the fuck in there while, hopefully, a new, more equitable paradigm reworks your DNA.
Step in, step up, step out. But please, do not quiet the revolution.
WE NEED ALL THE VOICES.
All the voices.
Thank you for everything you do.