Okay I know I've pretty much skipped a couple of months in my blogs and I apologize for the lapse. No excuses, just too many balls in the air and I had to let some of them drop temporarily so I could get back on track. Plus I was waiting for inspiration from just the right subject matter to start back with--preferably something upbeat and happy-esque, kind of a feel-good thing to kick us off into the Holiday season.
Yeah that's not what I got.
What I got is a subject that I'm absolutely loathe to discuss because as a rule I generally steer clear of controversial subjects like this. But something happened this week that I have to admit I was more than a little bothered by, so I felt the need to put aside by reservations and tackle it head-on.
Earlier this week there was an incident where a video was posted on social media that caused quite an uproar among the majority of people on my friends list. I don't think it's necessary or helpful to go into details, just suffice it to say that there was a 10 year old child in the video whose behavior some considered to be appalling. She used some pretty harsh language and exhibited some rather aggressive behavior, but in all fairness the video only showed one side of the confrontation, so viewers had no way of knowing how justified, or not, her behavior might be. To make matters worse, one of this girl's "friends" on social media decided it would be a good idea to video the exchange, and then share it with the world. I'm not even going to go into what I think about that type of "friend" who would commit that type of betrayal--that subject alone almost needs its own blog. But basically, this is pretty much the point where things really hit the fan.
Immediately there were thousands of critics of this child coming out of the woodworks from every corner of the country. They leveled their judgements and their opinions at her, her parents, her friends, her lifestyle--pretty much condemning her in every sense of the word. And still these people continued to share the video--they shared in publicly on social media so everyone could see it and comment or share again, they shared it privately to all their friends to encourage as many people as possible to participate in what quickly became a social media lynch mob. I personally received the video from no less than 10 people on my friends list. My newsfeed that first day was full of little else than the video and people's comments on it or about it. Even a day later it still dominates my feed--I just can't seem to get away from it. Knowing we have a business with an endorsement program for young people, people I don't even know very well have seen fit to message me to make sure that I know the story--one person on my friends list even took it upon herself to contact this child's sponsors and fill them in, to make sure they took punitive action.
Now, I had decided almost immediately that I was not going to publicly address this situation. But, since there seems to be a number of people who felt I needed to make a statement, here it is, as succinctly as I can possibly put it:
1. Yes, I have seen the video.
2. No, you don't need to send it to me...again. Please refer back to number 1.
3. Yes, I do have an opinion about it. That hardly makes me exceptional--everyone has an opinion and you know what they say about that.
4. No I don't want to post my opinion on social media. Why? Because it's...wait for it...None. Of. My. Business. I don't know the young lady in the video personally, but here's what I do know: She's not my child, not my student, not my employee, not my endorsee. That's the limit of my right to voice my opinion about it. I'm certain there are plenty of capable adults in this child's life who can give her guidance if they feel she needs it. I'm also certain those adults do not require my assistance or opinion to do so. I lost count of how many people commented "If I had done that at her age my parents would have...", or "If my child did that I would...". And while those may be accurate statements, the simply fact is that THIS situation ISN'T about you. Or YOUR child, or how you or your parents would handle it. So the comparisons and the judgements that come along with them, is not only unnecessary but inappropriate as well.
5. Something else I know--I am completely capable of reading or viewing something on social media, and then moving on WITHOUT commenting, liking, sharing, posting, emojis...or any other type of public response to it. I'm not extraordinary in this respect, it's not a super-power or anything. We all have this ability. I wonder sometimes if one of the problems in these situations is that there's a segment of people on social media who simply don't realize that you don't have to respond. AT ALL. You won't be put in Facebook or Instagram jail because you scrolled past a post without acknowledging it. And....now this may come as a shock to some....but the world WILL survive without the pearls of wisdom some are so anxious to share regarding their opinion. I'll even go you one better--the world will not only survive, but will be better for it if more people kept their opinions out of public forums entirely.
6. So what does this mean? Does it mean I condone the behavior in the video? Does it mean I condemn it? Well if the person in the video were my child, or my student, etc..., I would tell you. As it stands, however, I don't have a dog in this fight so my opinion is irrelevant, as is the large majority of opinions posted about it. Now I can make the choice to keep my opinion to myself, rather than add it to the already bloated pile of horseshit opinions currently being used by the mob of righteous keyboard warriors to bludgeon their latest target. I so choose. Any way you slice it there's just no way to justify destroying another human being like that.
7. We can be better than this--I know we can. So, how about we tend our own gardens, clean our own stalls, or toilets, or whatever, raise our own children, and afford everyone else the courtesy to do the same WITHOUT our interference? A novel idea, I admit, but one with merit I think. I mean, we all seem to be experts on a lot of things so our own lives must be perfect, right? That's the thing about pointing out someone's imperfections--gotta watch where you throw those stones.
8. Right or wrong, agree or disagree, it's been my experience that things usually have a way of working themselves out. And either way, there will always be some who are unhappy about the outcome. But the last time I checked, life went on anyway. You may not like an individual's behavior, but if they are talented, they're still going to do their share of winning. And the most offended ones will be even more appalled at their audacity to just go on with their lives. But the moment we become more obsessed over someone else's success than our own, is the moment we need to give ourselves a time out. There's been a lot of talk about children being too immature to handle social media. I for sure don't think this condition is limited to children.
So there it is, in a nutshell--just mind your business and let everyone else mind theirs. And be kind. It's not that hard and it won't kill you. And you may find yourself one day in a place where you'll be happy to see that kindness offered back to you. By all means form your own opinions, but if you're not asked for it, don't give it. And if you are asked for it, deliver it firmly, but compassionately. And above all else, privately.