It’s easy to forget that, but forgetting is probably the worst thing we can do.
I see this problem a lot with people involved in social justice. People who have genuinely good intentions of raising awareness for good causes. They want to be on the forefront of social changes. I get that, I feel that way too. But everything from the types of sites you visit to the people you surround yourself with all mold and color the world social media shows you. And it’s easy to forget that’s not the whole truth.
My old Twitter feed, for example, would have me think the world is consumed by the gender controversies of gaming. Everyone I know and respect would be tweeting their support and/or criticisms, and then of course the endless stream of arguments that ensue because of that. It wasn’t until I was sitting face to face with a group of friends that I was shocked back into reality.
“Seriously? Feminist Frequency? She did that who series about Feminism in gaming? She’s spent the last couple years getting followed around the internet by MRA idiots?”
Then the real kicker-
“…what’s the MRA?”
I just stared blankly, realizing I had spent about 10 minutes ranting over coffee about something my friends were oblivious to. I envied them because the mongrels who stalked and doxxed Sarkeesian had infuriated me. I ruminated about their stupidity and sheer willful ignorance as the world went on happily around me. And eventually came to the frustrating realization that the only person giving these pathetic neckbeards any power… was me. I had fallen down a social justice rabbit hole- with the best intentions- but I had lost all sense of size and proportion. They looked like a huge, unmovable threat. Marching ever forward with their pitchforks aimed at the ideals I held most sacred.
The reality of course is if any of these dweebs ever got up the courage to say anything to me up front, I would have laughed right in their face. I experienced a similar situation in high school when the hyper-fundy Christian felt to the need to give me the:
“Do you believe in God? You should, he believes in you…” I tried really hard not to laugh. I did, I swear I did. But I failed, just as I would inevitably fail not to laugh at the painfully awkward gamer who decided I needed his wondrous guidance. It’s all just way too sad.
This phenomena doesn’t just affect the way we perceive the world, I see it affecting our health too. Yes, that sounds very granola of me, but that’s what my observations had led me to believe. High profile feminists and social justice people have talked openly about struggling with depression and anxiety. It’s like a shitty job where you get yelled at all day, social media also often becomes a venue through which people tear you down and that’s without pay.
I eventually couldn’t find a reason to stay. I was being bombarded with articles that could ruin my afternoon, every afternoon. People complaining about the awful dredges of society, and of course the dredges themselves always manage to pool around the bottom. It made me angry when in my real life I had nothing to be angry about. When in fact my real life is full of happiness, love and friendship. So why waste my time?
And why waste your time?