Anyone who knows me knows that I am no shrinking violet when it comes to language. I know my share of four letter words and other lettered words and how to use them. I know how to shape my critiques like spears and aim them wickedly, sharply. But I have to say, in recent weeks, perhaps months, I have found myself shrinking away from some of the language that is aimed at people on my social networking sites.
In fact, I find myself shrinking away from the social networking sites themselves, because the surfeit of crappy outbursts is often overwhelming and clearly dehumanizing to anyone who reads them as well as to their authors. I suspect it’s a measure of how deeply and profoundly marginalized many people feel these days, how “at the effect” of their lives they are feeling. I think as a society, we’re sort of at that point where in the film, “Network,” Peter Finch’s character Howard Beale shouts to the world, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
It grieves me deeply when I read ad hominem attacks on people, just because you disagree with them. It pains me to read the vitriol and know that degree of animus being spewed is being spewed by my friends. When you deal in do-do, some of it unavoidably sticks to you and your parts. That is an ugly image. I don’t like to imagine my friends covered in do-do. I prefer images of orchids, colorful parrots and landscapes.
I’ve been watching a lot of BBC comedies lately, and I have a strong preference for the tongue-in-cheek, humorous approaches to giving the offending parties a piece of your mind. The out-loud skewerings for which the Vicar of Dibley is well noted amuse at the same time that they make their points. I can agree that the offending parties truly are offensive, but in a “forgive them for they don’t have a clue how ignorant they really are” kind of a way. There is a humanity in that type of put-down that is totally lacking in the “F*#k the f*%k+^g a$#h%&*s” diatribes that I’ve been seeing on Facebook lately.
Friends, I just want to say to you: I get that you’re frustrated, feel lied to, and cheated. Who doesn’t? I get that you’re angry and feeling stuck and helpless. But you don’t have to stay stuck and helpless. Get off your butts, figure out who else is working on the issues that you care about, and join them. Become an advocate at the least, and an activist if you’ve got the gumption. Make your moves where they will count and effect some change.
As Mr. Rogers’ mother told him, “Look for the helpers.” Then, go help them make a difference. Be a supporter. Help champion your causes. Stop complaining, and DO something.