Every morning (Ok, afternoon and evening too), I open up my Facebook and scroll past all the different tidbits from friends and pages I like. Mixed in more and more it seems (or I’m just sick of them so they seem more numerous) to be memes that shame EVERYONE about EVERYTHING. Perhaps it’s the political climate right now with elections in the air or people just don’t care anymore.
I am far from a champion for human rights, but every day I strive to learn more, be more compassionate and try to understand different perspectives. However, when people that I know start to shame everyone and everything for every possible reason, I wonder what their motivation is. Just in the past two days, I’ve seen memes and postings shaming Muslims for their beliefs, numerous “you’re too thin”, “you’re too fat”, breastfeeding in public shaming (like feeding your baby is some horrible thing, ‘OH MY GOD, IT’S A BREAST AND IT HAS MILK FOR THAT BABY TO DRINK!), WAY too many memes shaming either Caitlyn Jenner or transgender people in general. SERIOUSLY people?
How would you feel if you knew of a child or person who took their life based on a lifetime of being bullied? People lost their ever-loving minds when Caitlyn Jenner won an award, practically storming the gates of the internet because their choice of winner wasn’t chosen. Being a hero or being brave isn’t always about one specific role or action. It can be about inspiring people, creating awareness, doing the right thing, standing up for something you believe in. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.
Now the handicapped space shaming has returned with a fever pitch. For crying out loud, how do you know who is handicapped or not? How do you know that the overweight person you see using a cart isn’t bloated from years of steroid use or crippling arthritis pain or WHATEVER THEIR PRIVATE DOCTOR DECIDED QUALIFIED THEM FOR IT? I feel like it HAS to be screamed from the top of the highest mountain. We have every right to free speech, opinion, to hate or shame however we please. That is part of our rights as American citizens. In many cases, the conversations that evolve out of the shaming have educated some and helped people become more aware. Then, in other cases, it has revealed the deep-seeded hatred of some in our society that cannot be quelled by conversation and polite debate.
Places like Facebook, Imgur, Reddit, Twitter and the many other ways we are more and more often choosing to communicate our feelings are enlightening, that much is true. I feel like I am able to see the people I know for who they are. I get it that people want to say Merry Christmas or keep “One Nation Under God” in the pledge. I must capitulate to the individual who does not want a transgendered youth in their daughter’s locker room, not because I agree, but it is their RIGHT to feel that way. However, I wish things were different. I wish people would open their minds AND their hearts to accepting the incredibly diverse world in which we live and understand that we are all unique in our own way. Fat, thin, gay, straight, old, young, dealing with mental illness, disabling conditions or just trying to get through this crazy world. I can still hope, can I?