My news feed is not an echo chamber. Not only do I see things I wouldn’t share (which is fine of course), I see things that I find wildly disrespectful and problematic. I see things which make ire rise inside me, these things are so often bland parroting of oppressive notions that are still cemented in certain people’s minds.
For the most part, I feel that the people sharing these sorts of things are not very discerning, they haven’t really looked into the thing in the depth that I would before making a public post about it. They reactively respond to articles or videos with what they deem as a simple, rational argument but comes across to me as the most banal, un-thought-out conclusion.
I can see a lack of experience and research gilded with the bullshit of angry prejudice and misplaced arrogance. They have this seemingly unwavering belief in the trueness or correctness of their argument. They think they’re being wholly rational and original and I’ve heard their words a hundred times and it’s tiring.
It’s tiring because, sometimes, these words feel like they’re a direct attack on the worth or existence of other human beings and they’re tiring because I often feel a violent urge to respond and defend.
The thing is, a lot of the time, these people don’t think these issues really affect them, or that they don’t really affect anyone, they are framed as a thought exercise or a detached discussion topic.
However, in reality, the issues discussed affect people’s actual lives, and to flippantly post drivel such as this is misguided and irresponsible. If people who recognise that they are affected negatively by systemic problems such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia see people who aren’t affected in the same way posting about “the transgender ‘argument’ ” or “reverse racism” or “straight pride” or the “myth” of the wage gap or poverty being ‘self-inflicted’ because an individual hasn’t “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” they see that their plight for justice is not supported by the poster.
Not only is it not supported, it is trivialised and it is made more difficult, it is evidence of this being a common opinion in the populous, it is aggressive towards the very real struggle for equity for those who are oppressed.
Justified anger coming from someone who is directly affected by these widespread problems is framed as “irrationality” and as “getting too emotional”, and this leads the poster to dismiss their arguments – this is tone policing.
I posted this because I was angry, because I saw something on Facebook this morning that I knew to be blatantly untrue and the poster spouted it with a self-assured grandiosity that pissed me off. It’s not the first time he’s done it and I haven’t commented, although I did spend time finding a concise and informative video on the topic to which I was going to link in the comment thread.
I had to weigh up whether or not I was going to get involved, I had to make that decision based on whether I have the energy to educate someone on something I don’t think they really care about because they don’t think it affects them directly.
I had to see videos coming from the opposite side, perpetuating the same myths he was sharing, I had to see movements I hold dear called “cancer” by the same content creators.
I had to discuss with a close friend, whether I should reply, just to get it off my chest and feel a sense of support and validation coming from someone I respected.
I had to feel myself getting angry and consider the consequences of the argument, would his friends all rally around and insult me personally, would they send me harsh, threatening messages about my appearance, my sexuality, my gender? Would relationships with mutual friends be complicated?
Was it my duty to respond as a form of activism? Would I feel better or worse once I pressed the enter key? Would it be better to prioritise my own mental health? I don’t know, and as of yet I haven’t acted, but it puts the poster in a category in my brain: can’t be trusted, ignorant of important issues, impulsive with misplaced self-importance and limited restraint, despite vastly empty knowledge of the significance and complexity of the societal structures that contribute to human suffering.
In a dark corner of a 7-11 Samantha drooled on the pink and mint floor. Plump drops of thick liquid fastened her to madness in the eyes of the average onlooker and Angie Curtis was your average onlooker.
Tiff spun her candy cigarette in her fingers, it hit the tiles. She picked it up and returned it to her mouth with greedy swiftness and munched it into chalk.
All the while, the pool around Samantha grew and Angie’s anxiety went swimming in it, her body became more and more rigid and she sank into fear.
Samantha had gone to a place unheard of, with purple walls reaching into blackness, skies so vast it made one quiver on insect-jointed legs.
Confusing lines were drawn over and through things that we hold as opposite ends of a spectrum: day became night between breaths. It was hard to tell if you were outside or in, if you were breathing air or liquid chocolate or shit.
Clammy coldness flickered to feverish heat and the senses entwined in a swirling fluid chaos.
10 minutes of deadness in Samantha’s eyes made Angie frantic and convinced her of a harsh pragmatism encasing a deep and fearful desperation.
She emptied a water bottle over Sam’s head and with a wheezing shock and speed the two of them swept the shelves into their bags and bustled into the stock room at the back, dragging Tiffany with them.
After the adrenalin had worn off Samantha crashed into a pile of their coats and packing cardboard and slept heavily for hours.
Angie pushed all the packing crates against the door, stacking them into towers. She regretted soaking her, but it gave her something to think about as she wrung her clothes back into the empty bottle as best she could and hung them up.
After eating a miserable feast of sweets she would have once enjoyed, she sing-song spoke Tiff to sleep and fell into it herself. Her dreams were grasping hands and heavy footsteps.