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.