Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Where is the Love?

I started writing this entry awhile ago. I don't know when- I forgot to look at the date when I opened the draft. I didn't complete it because I didn't really know how. I'm not sure I know even today. I just know how I feel the next day after any racially and/or politically charged incident occurs that throws social media into an attack war. Where people I thought I knew, liked, cared about, are people I didn't really know at all....with such hate on their insides that seem to be proud to put it on their outside.

You are what you post. I've been saying that since I started hanging out on Internet message boards in 1995 when I found my first one. You. Are. What. You. Post. Whether you hold back or let it all hang out, it's your persona that you cultivate and the perception you give off about who you are. Doesn't matter if it's mostly schtick or if it's your real true self- it is what people see and believe. So you better make sure it's what you want it to be. To ANYONE who could possibly be reading. Your mom, your boss, your co-worker, your friends, your enemies. We shake our heads over what "kids today" are posting but what about the adults? Maybe we're not posting nudies on Snapchat, well, I'm not, but we're posting awful, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, hateful things. Ignorant things. Perpetuating lies without even fact-checking! When we're already ON the Internet! It's at our fingertips! Yet- we see something we think is true or has a grain of truth and just share it on like it's no big thing. Like smug douchebags. Hello, f'ing SNOPES! It's not hard to fact check. Yet, there's stupidity going around like wildfire, left and right.

I read some pretty vile stuff on FB the day I started this, other days, and of course, this morning. Hateful things. It wasn't even so much what was said- which was bad in and of itself, but it was the vitriol you felt coming from the words. Coming from people I actually like. In some cases, people I've know my whole life. People I wouldn't have guessed felt this way. It made me sad. In one case, the interesting thing of it is that they were all related to each other.

I've often wondered statistically speaking, of how this kind of thinking comes about. Not just thinking that's different than mine. Political views. Racist views. Religious views. There is a family where I peripherally know one of the siblings. I think there might be four kids in the family but I'm not sure. The one that I sort of know started putting out really racially & religiously charged political statements and memes on Facebook. I was shocked. I started investigating his profile and was bewildered at the hate, but then, worse yet- there were more of him! A whole family of him. It was like, "O'Doyle RULES!" in Billy Madison. I have to think their parents raised them that way. How else would they be SO steeped in hate like that? I barely know him but I didn't want to be associated with at this point. But he's friended to a lot of people I know also which scared me. I started wondering how many of them think like he and his family do. Thinking about it further, as I reread parts of this, especially about families of hate, I couldn't recall what family I was specifically referencing because I can think of three different ones off the top of my head that I've seen this kind of thing from.

I've also seen people I know "like" some of these ignorant comments. One time I questioned it. The answer I got was- "Well, I see both sides". I was baffled because the sides were pretty much- racist or non-racist. There was no way the one sides WASN'T racist.

I grew up in a town that was not racially or religiously diverse. I went through school with one black kid in my grade until high school, I think. Then by graduation, I think there were only three more and two of the were siblings. There were a handful of Latino/Hispanic, Asian, and Indian. Beyond that, pretty much everyone else was just white. White, Catholic, Irish and Italian. There were some us Jews, but trying to count them off the top of my head now, I'm coming up with around ten in my grade of approximately one hundred thirty six kids, at any given time. But race and politics was never really discussed. At least it wasn't something my friends were talking about. I had no idea what people I knew thought about those things. There were instances I did I feel "different" being Jewish. Someone I was dating told me that two of his siblings asked him if he told their mom that I'm Jewish. He was sort of surprised by their question and he was fine with it, so I just didn't pay it much thought. There were other, more subversive things that happened, but I think I was just too boy crazy to give it much merit. But now, looking back, I wonder if there were instances that happened that I was oblivious about. Maybe just because I was white & Jew-lite, I just didn't know any better.

College was pretty white too. White but racially charged. When I first started it was just known that there was a "black cafeteria" and a "white cafeteria". I thought it was weird but I was a freshman and it was my first time experiencing any real diversity. I didn't really have an opinion either way. Again, I was boy crazy and all I cared about was meeting new boys. Then we had the whole Phi Kappa Psi mess* and the shooting** on campus around the same time that was played out in the media for all to see. Racial tension was high but it still wasn't really discussed. Not in classes and not amongst peers. Maybe at the upper classes there were more discussions. But for us as freshman, all we really knew was the Naughty By Nature was supposed to play and then they were cancelled. The two incidents occurred during Rider's weird extra long winter break we had back then. Because of that, not many people were around and much of what happened was speculative and glossed over. There was no social media so anything people felt was kept pretty close to the vest I guess. I know there was anger on all sides of both incidents but unless you were directly impacted, it was easy to ignore. I had my own brushes with anti-Semitism in college there. I was sort of shocked at those brushes because I really hadn't encountered it up in Bergen County, but it still wasn't something I really dwelled on. It definitely was more of a bubble.

But now, it's ALL out there. Social media has pretty much made people into walking, talking advertisements for all their views. And that's fine. Many times disappointing, to me, but it's fine. However, what I don't understand, is how people don't realize that what they put out there on social media can affect their job and career. Nevermind just what people think of you. If you don't care what people think of you, that's fine too. I often don't care what people think. Although, I definitely would care if people thought I was racist. But if you need or want to keep your job, having the common sense not to put out racist sentiment would behoove you. I see in the news all the time that people have been fired for stupid stuff they put out on social media. Is the need for your controversial opinions to be heard trump common sense? I really have no idea. The motivation to have the world know you're racist or some other form of discriminating, escapes me. Even *I* know that not every single thought in my head needs to come out and do a tap dance for all. What exactly do you get out of giving your hate center stage? I assume to most of your friends and family, you're preaching to the choir and anyone else isn't going to magically decide your word is gospel.

I love social media and I've seen it do a ton of good. I love it for lively discussion, tv quoting, catching up, changing my mind for the positive about people, and for daily entertainment. But on days like this, I wish it didn't give a voice to the extremely ignorant and bubble-ized. The world is bigger than you and your narrow-minded views. You just have no right to be that dumb. We have too much education out there. You just have to be willing to seek it out.

I guess I'll stop here because I don't know what else to say. I just know I cringe before opening Facebook on any morning after any racially or politically charged incident occurs. I know I'm going to be saddened and disappointed by what I see and by whom. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. It's embarrassing. For all of us.

*Phi Kappa Psi scandal- http://articles.philly.com/1993-01-30/news/25958223_1_fraternity-white-students-frat-member

**Rider Shooting/Death- http://articles.philly.com/1993-03-23/news/25948741_1_racial-incident-white-students-black-students

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