Yesterday, I was interacting on Facebook with my personal feed. I made the joy-filled decision to talk about the flu and the flu shot. That was fun! People spent more time going at me about statistics and how it is a marketing scam and there are no statistics that prove it works and how the article didn’t mention the specific number of people who got the shot and “shame on them for not including it”. OMGOSH. It quickly became a hellscape of lunacy. The point of my post was not a complete, unabridged version of every National Institutes of Health collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, but rather a very factual ~in my opinion lol~ statement that obtaining the flu shot does not give you the flu. Can you get sick? Yes, if you are already exposed to the flu or come in contact with something else. Can you have a side effect? Yes, while rare you can get them and they can be severe. I contracted Guillain-Barré Syndrome from a flu shot years ago and I still get my shot every year.
The next day, of course, people had moved on. I think with the COVID-19 virus, also known as the Coronavirus, many people have been on edge. Internet judging certainly doesn’t belong to a narrow bit of posts on Facebook about health issues in the world, but it’s interesting to see reactions when you post something that’s not fluffy or sharing pictures of whatever/whoever in your life. When I share something interesting to me, sometimes friends and family chime in and make a comment or click an emoji of some sort and that’s the crux of social media to begin with. Being able to connect to others in your life with whom you don’t share physical space makes it nice. However, don’t EVER post something controversial, or you will be taken to task LOL.
We all know the apparent, social rule that says we shouldn’t discuss religion or politics. We’ve all seen how fun that gets on the internet. There are many other topics that make it to the boiling point level of discussions though. I’ve seen people get in fights online for saying a spider is scary in a group about tiny animals. [For the record, I am TERRIFIED of spiders, but if I see a post of one, I just choose the “hide post” choice and move on.] I used to remind people of how scared I was of them when they posted on my timeline to scare/mock me, including in print, so now I just either hide the post, remove all future posts from that group, or in a ridiculously tireless barrage of posts from a person after I told them it truly scares me, put the person on unfollow. It’s kind of silly that it comes to that, but there’s that whole passive-aggressive aspect of people.
I saw a meme from someone recently that said, “Quit being a little bitch.” and the person who posted it commented about “if people really had something to bitch about”. The reality of that comment truly being about judging is so deep and intentional I almost have to wonder if the person knows just how much. For example, let’s just say I bitch about my water bill, for a weird, broad example so I don’t clash with “real life” too much. In the old days, my mom would have reminded me that “some people in the world spend all day walking and carrying water, just so they can eat”. If I am truly remembering correctly, we would have called that a “guilt trip” back in the day.
I get it. There are people who live in horrible living conditions. I feel fortunate and grateful for my life and the fact that I don’t have to struggle for the basic necessities in life like water, food and shelter. While I have two children with Autism, I am grateful to have the home to shelter them, the ability to pay the bills and be home with them and the opportunities that I have been able to give them like trips and cruises. I do believe however, that I should not be judged for it. I do not have much in the monetary sense, so I try to do good in small ways like recycling to make the world a better place in my eyes, donating food when I can or participating in a charity event or purchase.
I will readily admit to wondering about the post I saw my friend share this morning. Was this some sort of retort based on me? Then I quickly realized that no, it most certainly is not. There is an inherent risk with my anxiety oftentimes to feel personally connected to things that I read. It’s par for the course with this relentless feeling that comes with this disorder. However, it doesn’t prevent me from at least thinking about it, ruminating over the concept and wondering if I can handle or process that feeling better. There is no hard and fast rule that I must read and process each thing I read online, in a magazine, hear in a store etc. The person who beeped at me because I was doing the speed limit and they do not, is not a reflection on me. It’s just reality. There will be things around me out of my control and completely devoid of any connection to me. I can try to find new ways to avoid the feelings of persecution that don’t truly exist coming from others that I feel.
Do I judge others? Oh sure I do. I’m not innocent by any means. I judge people who don’t vaccinate their children. I judge people who harm animals and other people. I judge individuals who abuse, lie, cheat, steal etc. Sure I do. Some more than others. I judge the person who walks out of the restroom without washing their hands LOL [not really LOL’ing with the amount of icky repercussions that come with that…YUCK!, but more about the seemingly petty aspect I feel that is *judge* wise] So I certainly don’t exclude myself from the judging part of life. I just believe that I can do better.
That quote right there about sums it up. I would be very curious to learn more about how this type of exchange happens in other cultures. Just how entitled am I here in the U.S.? Do other countries and cultures show great disdain for opinionated people, or is freedom of speech a universal concept? Sure, I am aware of cultures who have a predisposition towards the suppression of voices, but I am not truly educated on the nuances. I’m sure there are many different caveats surrounding this kind of expression. All I know is that for me, as a person who shares online often, I either need to “grow a thicker skin” or be prepared to take my lumps, as it were.
Choosing to write on the topics of Autism, Domestic Violence, Parenting and Mental Health issues, well, I think some of these can be just as explosive as politics or religion, well maybe not when I think about it!