As I have been pondering my move over here…
I have been thinking about how I have heard my mother and aunt say that because they are over a certain age, post menopausal, they are entitled to speak their mind freely and as they want. Frankly, at this point, I think this makes them out to be more like trolls (definition here) than adventuresome women who are fearless.
I recall I time when I heard them say this and thought it was so wonderful, that they were fearless. But does age really allow us to be rude?
I don’t think rude is ever good.
I actually think it, this tendency to speak ones mind freely and without censure, is more about the anonymous public thing… when you don’t have a sensory interaction with another person, it is as if you have a license to be a rude asshole. I have seen it in a few different places. With other people. In general, I don’t like internet assholes… and it takes a special talent to interact on the internet without coming off that way, I can only name a few active “online” friends who can usually manage it with a modicum of grace, most others are just rude assholes.
There is enough bullying going around.
Notice how when you see a face, or hear a voice… that you often have a deeper understanding of the situation and I would guess that we are kinder and gentler in those circumstances.
Journalists, of course, suffer this consequence… being a silent voice to challenge and stimulate conversation Journalism is certainly not for the faint of heart in this. But I have never thought of bloggers as journalists. I tend to think of them as people willing to expose a part of themselves. In my case, I started my blog so I could document my pregnancy. I found tremendous support through my friends who read it, but the strangers who came across it were kind and gentle with me. I developed several friendships with people I had never met. They are different kinds of friendships than the people I know if life. But they were deep enough to get invited to funerals, to foster connections, to grieve together via email. It was kind. It was gentle.
I myself have engaged in an ungraceful manner on-line. I usually realize it and apologize… and have tried really hard to be mindful that we have enough horrid in our daily lives that something kinder and gentler is probably more productive.
There is even a news piece about how to deal with anti-vaxxers saying that putting them on the defensive may cause more harm than good. And what happened when this writer met her cruelest troll.
I think people are feeling disconnected.
I just see how ugly and horrid things like politics has become – in the case of politics both sides using horrible terms to refer to the other side, names for the president that are shocking (at least to me), names for our female politicians that are misogynistic at best… I recognize that this is not new, but it is more vulgarly inflammatory now.
Then there are what I traditionally avoid when reading news stories… the comments section. Often full of hate and vitriol, scathing off the cuff accusations against the author or subject… its a little much.
As I age, I am finding it mandatory that I be more gracious and kind. That I invite into my life (and by default my family) something kinder and gentler. That I find a way to shift the ugliness of character in myself, that I allow my exposure to grace to be the driving force. Age is not allowing me to tell people to fuck off, it is not allowing me to be mean, it is not allowing me to speak my mind with freedom. It is calling me to be quieter. It is calling me to be gentler. It is calling me to use a phone or move to be in person when I have a concern or opinion.
I know that we all need to face ugly and deal with criticism and hear unseemly things, but there is just so much. And as I sit here, managing life after a cancer diagnosis (which shifted my way of thinking) I want to commit to gentleness. I want to commit to kindness. I want to avoid trolling.