Send this to 5 friends including me.
You have one hour to forward this message or you will have 5 years of bad luck.
Grab this twibbon if you support women’s rights/animals rights/the long-gun registry/bringing Buffy back/bringing sexy back
Do this today/don’t do this today/wear this today/don’t post that today/show them/show us/show me/ show your/support us/support them/follow us/boycott them.
I’m kind of tired of the internet telling me what to do.
I love that social media and the people using it have become amazing, powerful catalysts for education and change and support, but it is starting to feel like every single day there is new, powerful mandate being unveiled on twitter, on blogs, online. And sometimes I feel like they come with a caveat that if I am not joining, not following, not supporting that mandate, than I temporarily have no place in our community. Sometimes I feel like these movements come with a veiled sense of, either you are with me or you are against me. Sometimes I feel guilt if I don’t join these movements, and resentment if I do.
Since I’m not interested in being passive-aggressive, I’ll give you some examples.
Almost daily, I get a well-meaning email from somebody I love, telling me how much they love me. These emails are often accompanied by photos of kittens, flash animations of grumpy yet sage women rocking in a chair, or a badly photoshopped image of a lamb sleeping with lions or some such crap. So, this email telling me how much I am loved, must be sent back to the person that sent it to me, or else they will, what? Think I don’t love them? Think I don’t love kittens? Think I am godless and heartless and have no time for friendship/beautiful women/strong women/women that only get better with age week?
I never forward these emails on. I appreciate the getting of these emails, but I hate feeling bad that the person that sent it to me is expecting me to reciprocate. Because I always delete these emails. But it’s not because I don’t love the person that sent it to me.
And then I log on to twitter, still feeling bad about the kittens, and find that the next day has been declared ‘Complaint-free Monday’ on Twitter.
It’s a nice, really nice thought. It’s meant to keep everybody’s spirits and hearts and attitudes in the pink.
But I kind of resent it.
Of course – OF COURSE – nobody is forcing hashtags on me, or forcing me to follow the mandate, but, when a hashtag like that comes from a popular, well-respected blogger, it spreads like wildfire and is being declared over and over again in my twitter stream constantly. And it does kind of smack of an almost parental, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it,’ kind of vibe.
And to me, that means that I’m going to bum people out if I tweet what I would really like to tweet today, so I’m kind of staying off twitter. Because it’s possible that something I say is going to sound like a complaint, and then someone will undoubtedly remind me that it’s Complaint-free Monday and I only have 140 characters for my kvetching, so I can’t afford a disclaimer in front of every one of my complainy tweets.
And I could use the sympathy of my twitter peeps today. It’s our first day without our nanny, and I miss her and I still feel really sad about some things that happened last week, and I couldn’t sleep last night because I was upset and stressed and things feel worse when you’re stressed and tired, and I just wanted to lay it out there and –yes – fish for some love, because that’s one of the things that twitter is really, really good for.
But I can’t do it today, because even though I’m bummed out, the mandate is not to complain, and it’s a big enough mandate that it’ll be obvious that I’m ignoring it when I tweet, and then it’ll be like I just broke some unwritten rule about internet rules.
Twibbons bug the crap out of me, too. Well, I shouldn’t say that – I have a twibbon on my avatar right now, supporting gay rights. But I didn’t put it there because everybody else in my stream had one and I felt like I needed to prove my solidarity with those that I follow. I put it there because it represents a cause I believe in. But I never mentioned that I put it there, and I never told you that you should put one of your avatar, and it didn’t spread like internet wildfire and I didn’t assume that you don’t support gay rights if you didn’t put one your avatar.
I know nobody is keeping track of whether or not I forwarded an email or complained on twitter or wore a tutu or any of that, but these mandates can feel oppressive. And bossy. And like I’m not a good person if I don’t do them, when the truth is, I simply have my own shit going on, and that the level of my online commitment to these things might have nothing to do with my love/support/encouragement/belief in the awesome things that you are doing.
And this might be my own sense of guilt talking, but sometimes these campaign make me feel like I have been put in a, ‘you’re-either-for-us-or-against-us’ position, and not wanting to choose between the two, I simply choose silence.
And that, I’m quite sure, was not the point at all.