Don’t feed the trolls

If you don’t have anything nice to say, stay out of the comments.

There was a time, a simpler, less informed one when you learned from the 6 o’clock news, people undoubtably knew that the world was round, people trusted science, and you thought that people were in general, pretty decent overall.

Then came the internet.

I remember the days of Freenet message boards, and I used them. Our dial up became more sophisticated, as did our internet eventually. The social networking tools I used in the early days were Yahoo chat rooms and ICQ. I was connecting to strangers and friends alike. I was just enjoying the interaction, no more, no less.

The interactions we had online were different then. I don’t remember anything overly negative, but that might not be the case.

Social networking has undoubtedly evolved. All information is at our fingertips. We no longer get news at 6pm, but at all hours of the day, sometimes from user run media sources. Twitter is an excellent example of this. If something is happening in Ottawa, I’ll know it within seconds. We are aware of accidents in real time. This is actually the positive side of the coin. Our overall awareness on a myriad of subjects is incredible.

I use the internet for two purposes lately when it comes to non work or school related tasks: Share pictures of my beautiful family and updates on how we are coping together, and to raise awareness (my own and others) on social injustices.

Lately I have been very focused on Black Lives Matter – it’s an urgent cause. But I care about so many things: Women’s rights, Animal rights, Education and Health cuts, Environmental issues, Missing and Murdered indigenous women and girls, LGBTQ+ rights. I want to have information, and I want others to have it too – it feels like we are on equal ground, or moving toward it, the more we know about people that are different from ourselves. To be informed and in defense of voices who can’t or aren’t being heard – is a privilege.

Sadly, it also leads to the rise of ignorance. There are voices online who battle change and don’t care who they have to belittle via their internet rage.

Recently, I have admittedly been engaging with some of these bullies to an exhausting degree. Over nothing other than, embarrassingly Aunt Jemima table syrop. More directly, the outrage some feel over the long overdue name change of the Aunt Jemima pancake products.

From my perspective, society must be open to change to evolve as a whole. From small changes like changing offensive product names, to bigger movements, like ensuring there are more film projects getting funding and recognition that are led by marginalized people. And of course, huge, civil rights movements. This is how we do better for our children, our future.

Those who are resistant to change are often the ones who need it in their lives the most. I have tried different tactics to engage these people in hopes they might open their minds a little.

I have tried kindness, I have tried asking questions to engage thoughtful back and forth. I have failed at almost each attempt. It almost always results in the bullies insulting me harder. And of course – being called a snowflake.

Does caring about others make me worthy of “snowflake” status or does it make the people having a meltdown on me over a PepsiCo product a “snowflake”? If I’m the snowflake, let it storm. I simply cannot be silent about things that matter.

My theory is that, perhaps if we were face to face, we might be able to have a coffee and smile at each other, and have a civilized discussion. Behind the veil of (false) anonymity of their computer screens, people do not listen. There’s no embarrassment in ignorance this way. There’s no shame in blatant negativity. And no regret for hurting someone. This theory can sometimes be called dissociative anonymity.

Here is a great video on trolls and when dissociative anonymity comes in to play:

The Psychology of Trolling

Every news story has a comment section no matter what platform of social media brought you to it. This is how we connect to each other. The comment section can be full of hate. Racist, homophobic, sexist remarks. The more informed as a human I become, the more I see the resistance to evolution in others.

Could it be that they want a flat earth with no vaccines full of just…white people?

I have to, for my sanity, believe that’s not the case and that these voices seem louder because they have nothing to lose. Of course, sometimes they are paid bots.

Is avoiding the comment section the best possible solution?

I don’t know, and I’m not going to pretend to. I have learned, wholeheartedly that there are rarely arguments of value. In my eyes, there is no debate when it comes to human rights. For some, the line is drawn at the name change to their favorite pancake mix, because it reminds them of their childhood.

For now, at least. I have to stay out of the comments. How about you? What’s your tactic, and have you ever had success debating someone on an issue you felt passionately about online?

Sources and further reading:

The Internet Trolls have won. Sorry, there’s not much you can do (The New York Times)

7 Effective Tactics to Defeat Internet Trolls (Search Engine Journal)

Good riddance Aunt Jemima, and Goodbye to Uncle Ben too (The Globe and Mail)

Follow me on my other Social Media! 🙂

Facebook:

Don’t feed the trolls: advice from a Proud Snowflake: https://bit.ly/2Z2sIVo

Twitter:

Trolls are cancelled! Stay out of the comments: https://bit.ly/2Z2sIVo

Redefining beauty on Instagram

The body positivity movement is an important one.

It is empowering women and men of all ages and every shape and size possible to give up on their plight of “Instaperfectionism”, and instead begin to discuss and even display our flaws for the world to see.

If you aren’t familiar with body positivity, it’s doing what curated & airbrushed modelesque feeds are not – it’s helping people practice something that has been risqué in our culture – giving a platform for people to enjoy being their authentic selves, despite what society wants.

This video from Essence does a great job of explaining the concept of the Body Positive movement:

Body Positivity” Is A Social Movement That Celebrates EveryBODY | Essence

If you believe that you’re fat and that fat is a problem, there is a billion dollar industry out there waiting for you to open your wallet. If you don’t like the shape of your nose, the lines in your forehead, the little pouch of skin under your armpits even – there’s an industry waiting in the shadows to help you nip, tuck, and sell you a serum to “get rid of your imperfections.”

But what if, instead, the messaging we sent others an ourselves was to embrace ourselves and try to love ourselves not in SPITE of those things, but because of them.

Seems impossible right? Wrong.

One day, I was mindlessly scrolling Instagram while bored on lunch at work. I knew I could have been doing anything else, maybe even something I get pleasure from, like listening to a book on audible. But the allure to scroll is a strong one.

On this particular day, I got ready for work in a rush. My outfit wasn’t the greatest, nor my hair and makeup the neatest. The goal was to get to work on time, and maybe even enjoy 5 solid minutes of stretching before getting out of my warm bed. So I made my decision, and felt okay about it. Until the scrolling started.

Your curated feed is what you make of it. So in my feed I had a phenomenal amount of film industry professionals, friends, family, and you guessed it: Influencers.

Influencer isn’t a bad word. To influence can be impactful in wonderful ways, as we have seen with the current Black Lives Matter movement. Change is happening slowly but steadily in part because of the ways in which people are positively influencing each other to use their voices and platforms to help Black people get laws and regulations change, and see justice – which is badly needed.

Then there are the influencers who have those photos, you know the ones – the overly curated feed in travel adventures, food and cocktail perfection, and of course, their bodies/faces/hair/manicures are always on point.

I, however, am rarely ever on point with any or all of those things, and on this day, I really felt it. Sloppy and soft is how I felt, as I went through account upon account of highlights and images that only made me feel worse.

Right then, I stopped following anyone who made me feel bad about myself, I started doing my research on the right accounts to follow.

So…what accounts should you follow?

In this case, I needed help revamping what I thought I knew to be ‘ideal’ or ‘beautiful’. We only think that thin equates beauty because thinness has been sold to us for decades. Thin is being pushed at us by Instagram and Facebook ads promoting slimming teas. What if, in fact, all bodies are beautiful bodies? What if it was time to redefine what we think is beautiful?

I had read about the very public disagreement between actor & activist Jameela Jamil and the Kardashian family over promoting of “skinny teas”.  Through that story, I learned about I Weigh, an Instagram revolution she had developed to diversify and encourage inclusivity. At any size, any race, any gender, any sexuality. The posts were filled with kindness, love, and a clear mission to shame these tea companies and the celebrities that promote them. This account made me feel good, and informed, and it was through this account I found a few more favorites:

@thebirdspapaya: Sarah Nicole is a Canadian blogger and podcast guru in the body positive space. Her account is honest, and she writes often about her journey through divorce & remarriage, her recovery from her eating disorder, parenting and how to navigate social media.

@ownitbabe: I was originally a fan of Rini’s podcast before finding her instagram account. She no longer does the podcast but still provides great information on self care and mental illness as it relates to social media.

@scarrednotscared: Michelle has a really inspiring account, and is a great body confidence coach. I get excited to read her new content.

@CeCeOlisa: CeCe is a plus sized fashion blogger whose motto is “Don’t wait on your weight”, and is co-founder of the account @theCurvycon – she has a great message and it’s always great to support female entrepreneurs.

These are just a few of the amazing and inspiring accounts that Instagram has to offer to guide you on the right path of self acceptance and love. I personally like to follow accounts that I can relate to – and I love following accounts that I can’t relate to at all. Learning about other people’s life experiences help us to grow and change.

I won’t always feel my best every day. And  I certainly don’t need to follow anyone on social media who makes me feel worse. At the end of the day, the best advice I can deliver is this:

Love your body and all of it’s bumps, dimples, scars, and beauty marks. It’s been with you for your whole life, and it continues to grow change with you. It’s the body that you came into this world with. The body whose knees you skinned. The body that hugs your loved ones. The body that does it’s best to protect you. You are lucky to be here, in this body that you have. It’s yours and it tells your story.

I hope you’ll consider doing yourself this one favor. If you’re already on this path – what accounts do you follow that make you feel good?

Sources:

What is Body Positivity?

A brief history of Jameela Jamil and the Kardashians’ differing views on body positivity

Follow me on Social media!

Facebook: Redefining beauty on Social Media https://bit.ly/3hlWM6O

Twitter: Time to feel good: Redefine Beauty! https://bit.ly/3hlWM6O

A fight against racial injustice: white people, stand up!

This past week, the world witnessed something that a video uploaded to social media exposed: yet another black American man murdered. His name is George Floyd, and he was a human being whose life was viciously snuffed out by a disgraced white police officer. His gruesome, heartbreaking murder is one of many…a victim of the largest systematic, global problem: racism.

Racism is not news. It has been a problem forever. Now, with users being able to upload and inform people all over the world of anything, we are finally able to see it with our own eyes, in our own homes. For people of color, this is their reality. They do not have to see a video to know that this reality exists. But as a CIS gendered white woman, admittedly, I was not prepared for the horror that was the videos of the death of Ahmaud Abery and George Floyd. And of course, the unprovoked threats to Christian Cooper by Amy Cooper.

Amy Cooper is the very picture of being aware of having white privilege and using it to elevate her white supremacy. This woman showed what other videos did not. The pure condescension in her voice. The pure hate and racism. The most frightening part – the part where her tone, her voice says without saying it: stand down. I am a white woman. I can get you murdered. She used her racism as a weapon.

How many times has this exact scenario occurred without cameras to bring these racists to light? How many people have been hurt-have been murdered – and justice was not served because we didn’t see it happen? How many times has this exact circumstance occurred and no one was aware because it didn’t get shared globally via any and all social media platforms?

And finally, how many cases of racial injustice and murder were legally actioned because we saw the video on social media? Not because it had already been seen by officials who had originally done nothing?

After feeling helpless for far too long, and wishing I could do more, I had come to realize that I can absolutely do more. It is not enough to not be racist. As a white person, with white privilege I must dedicate myself to being actively and loudly anti-racist. I can stand up for those who need me the most and do everything in my power to engage others to do the same.

With being a non-racist, your job is simple: do not judge or hate people based on their skin color. However, to be anti-racist, you must be actively trying to contribute to eliminating behaviors and situations for the protection and solidarity of people with color.

Anti-Racism Educator Jane Elliott: ‘There’s Only One Race. The Human Race’

I’m at the beginning of a lifelong journey. I know it will not be a perfect journey, and I know that I’ll have to dedicate my time to ongoing learning and not be afraid to be called out when I make a mistake. As a white person it is so important to examine myself in the process if I am going to take my allyship to where it needs to be to make a real difference to help BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color).

I would like to share some steps that have resonated with me, steps that we can all collectively do to help ignite change:

  1. Social media responsibility: I am not talking here about reposting anti-racist memes, I’m not talking here about making sure that you are educating yourself by following anti-racist accounts on Instagram, twitter, and Facebook. I’m talking about using what platforms you do have to pass along education and messages of solidarity with BIPOC. Engaging in conversations. And continuing to do so beyond present time.
  2. Support by means of action: Act by standing with BIPOC loudly. Lobby lawmakers. Engage in antiracist activism practices. Donate to anti-racist groups. Dedicate your takeout and shopping funds to support businesses run by BIPOC. Support art, cinema, and any other initiatives run by POC. Sign every related petition that you can get your hands on.
  3. Educate yourself to educate others: Read. We have access to all kinds of information at the click of a button. So instead of using your free time to take yet another frivolous Buzzfeed quiz, maybe read or listen to a podcast or audiobook that will help further your journey. Listen to BIPOC who want to talk. Remember that it is NOT the responsibility of BIPOC to educate us. We must do this ourselves.

Remember, there is not going to be a quick fix in dismantling such a widespread problem. Your actions are important right now and always. Start today and integrate your anti-racist actions into every aspect of your life. Humankind is depending on us. Let us be committed to anti-racism, to listening, and to action to protect people of color. In a fight against racial injustice, white people must take a hard stand to help BIPOC. Start now if you haven’t already, and start with your social media accounts.

I am including some links that helped me get started – and I will continue to seek out further resources, so if you have any you would like to share with me, please do.

Books:

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, PhD (Amazon / Audible)

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad (Amazon / Audible)

How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (Amazon / Audible)

Social Media Organizations:

Antiracism Center (Twitter)

The Conscious Kid: ( Twitter / Instagram / Facebook)

NAACP: (Twitter / Instagram / Facebook )

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): ( Twitter / Instagram / Facebook )

Videos:

3 Things White People Can Do To Help Fight Racism (YouTube)

Understanding My Privilege | Sue Borrego (YouTube)

Take a Walk in My Shoes: Jane Elliott (YouTube)

Petitions:

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Breonna Taylor

The Minneapolis Police Officers to be charged for murder after killing innocent black man

JUSTICE FOR REGIS KORCHINSKI-PAQUET

Black Lives Matter Petition List

Donate:

I Run With Maud

Justice for Regis

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund

Source (s) / Further Reading:

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Chris Cooper Is My Brother. Here’s Why I Posted His Video.

White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy

Check me out on Facebook & Twitter!

A fight against racial injustice: white people, stand up…and keep standing up! (Facebook)

White Privilege and Racism, what you need to do #BlackLivesMatter (Twitter)

Social Media Vs. Moms

I will tell you with full confidence that in many ways social media has improved my quality of life as a human being. Maybe that’s not exactly true…but it has made it easier.

The ease of which I can flip from app to app, organizing events, connecting with loved ones, networking with people in the film industry, promoting my own films and even getting auditions is honestly incredible. I can’t even imagine how one would be able to juggle these things before social media existed. It has truly helped me obtain and maintain my wonderful, hectic (okay – chaotic) life have some sense of organization.

There is, however, one major way in which social media can make things more difficult. For me, and millions of other women worldwide. Specifically those who are parents.

Imagine that you are pregnant. You carry said baby for almost 10 months. You love being pregnant for 7 months of that until your swollen feet and ankles and the summer heat take you down mercilessly. You can’t sleep for the life you, no matter what you do.

Along the way though, you have had fun updating your family on your belly progress. At every month, you know what fruit or vegetable the baby is the size of, and you use all of your social media accounts to have fun with it. You can update all of your loved ones online, so you do. This saves you time for all the other things you have to do.

You read the books, you watch the documentaries and you do the shopping. You start following social media accounts of other women going through the same process and really appreciate belonging to the same club as them. Some are people you personally know, some are social media influencers, and some are celebrities. None the less, you feel the sense of community and solidarity with these moms to be.

You share advance tips. What is the best baby monitor? What kinds of birth options are out there? OBGYN or midwife? What in the heck is a mucus plug!? And oh – how are you decorating the nursery? What is the best crib? Stroller? Feeling overwhelmed? Yeah? Me too.

You take  parenting classes, researching for hours, days, months. You know what supplies they need. What supplies you need. Learning about all of the ins and outs of month-to-month baby stages. Milestones to shoot for, mandatory doctors appointments – the list goes on. It actually never ends.

It’s time now, to go through the terrifying and painful childbirth process, which never goes exactly the way you planned for it – but hey, here’s your beautiful tiny human. Your living, breathing mini you. Somehow the hospital finds you to be a capable human and you’re almost shocked when they send you home with your baby.

Suddenly it seems that everything you planned, everything you read, everything you thought you knew – exits your flustered mind and you’re scared you’re not going to know how to do this – but you will.

You go back to your social media community. The Moms-to-be you found on Instagram and Facebook. The ones who made you feel understood. They have to feel the same way you do, right?

While your newborn is napping, you pull up instagram and feel instantly horrified. That celebrity you were pregnant at the same time as – she looks like she never even had a human living inside her… and you could swear she was pregnant with you just two weeks ago.

Moms whose nurseries resemble something you’d find in a design magazine while you haven’t even assembled your baby’s furniture.

Moms who don’t look tired when you and your partner haven’t slept in days.

It escalates from there.

You’ll worry every time Moms have an early crawler, walker or talker, that perhaps your beautiful healthy child is not up to par.

You’ll think the problem is with you. You’ll lose sleep over it. You’ll doubt yourself.

Although you are anxious over all of the targeted post pregnancy weight loss ads that you’re flooded with daily, terrified of all of the supermoms online living their best #momlife, and even though its clear that you feel insecure and inadequate, you’ll log on and put yourself through this over and over.

You’ll find 1000’s of accounts on every social platform that make you feel like you’re failing at being a Mom. 

In comparison, you’ll find so very few accounts that assure you that even though you aren’t perfect, you are doing the very best you can. Your child feels the warmth in each of your hugs. They are happy, they are healthy.

I assure you, your child doesn’t care that your tummy still looks a little like a deflated balloon. They don’t care that you don’t buy all organic, or make 100% of their meals from scratch. They never will.

Sit down for a second and cut yourself a break. You have your coffee while the baby naps and realize that your messy living room is actually pretty great.

It’s proof that your child had a fun day playing with you on the floor.  Your crazy mop of hair and makeup less face show that you are giving this role in motherhood your all. Your life is authentic and not up for comparison.

So pick up that smartphone once more and start unfollowing all the people and accounts that make you feel like you aren’t good enough, post that hilarious photo of you and your child covered in finger paint, and know that without a doubt, you are doing your very best and enjoying every second of your role as a Mom.

“I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.” — Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

Source(s):

Social Media Makes Mothers Feel Inadequate: Refinery29 Canada Study

Edison research: Moms on Social Media 2019

Facebook: Social Media Vs. Moms

Twitter: Social Media Vs. Moms