“Why can’t we all just get along?” “Why do you have to get offended at everything?”
I keep seeing this sentiment pop up all over Facebook and other social media.
Here’s the short answer ― no, we can’t all just “play nice” and act like everyone shits rainbows and sprinkles and no, we can’t all just “focus on the positive” because that’s not f***ing reality.
Let me back up. As a country, we continue to become more and more divided. And as this has happened, I’ve seen more and more of the groundbreaking <sarcasm> idea that if only, ONLY we could all just be more positive and spread love, then things would magically get better.
Don’t get me wrong, I HATE that our country has turned into a total shit show. We’ve become the literal embodiment of the comments section online.
Yet, those who would implore us to play nice or not focus on the negative are arguably as dangerous as those who spew hate-filled, racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic (etc, etc) rants online.
You may be thinking, woah there Amanda, that’s a pretty big jump.
Here’s why it’s not:
Asking people for positivity or to just love one another ignores the entire reality of the pain and suffering that so many women, POCs, and LGBTQ people feel in today’s world.
Asking people why they can’t just “be kind” is to say to them, well your suffering isn’t really THAT big of a deal. Maybe if you were just nicer to the racist/homophobe/whatever, they’d suddenly decide they were in the wrong and life would be perfect again.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many times when I have to go high when someone goes low. When what I really want to do is tell them to go f*** themselves.
But I know saying that will get us nowhere and will in fact perpetuate their beliefs about me and others like me.
So why are those who ask us to be more positive as dangerous as others? Because they lack the wherewithal and the emotional fortitude to confront the issue head on. It’s easier to sweep it under the rug than it is to actually deal with it.
I get that that’s how many people live their lives. I’ve dealt with it in my own life. People generally do not like to be confronted about an issue because it’s uncomfortable and it forces them to solve it.
I completely agree that it is infinitely easier to just ignore an issue or to sweep it into the corner and pretend it’s not there.
But as my therapist reminds me, emotions repressed will only resurface 10x stronger.
By ignoring the reality of racism, misogyny, homophobia and other issues, you’re actually perpetuating them.
Is it exhausting to be upset over these issues constantly? Absolutely. I have to take self-care days sometimes because it grinds your soul down to deal with this bullshit all the time.
However, the luxury of being able to “tune out” or “just be nice” showcases not only your unwillingness to accept and change the real world, but also your privilege.
I know that the minute I drop the word “privilege” many people will stop reading what I have to say. It’s become such a triggering word for so many people because as soon as they see or hear it, they tune you out.
But ya’ll, white privilege, gender privilege, and socioeconomic privilege are a thing. They are as much a fact as the sky being blue and water being wet.
Your ability to ignore or to choose not to worry or deal with these issues means you are privileged, because obviously then these issues don’t directly affect you. Maybe it’s your race. Maybe it’s your gender. Maybe it’s your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Whatever it is, choosing to step out of those conversations means that you’re not encountering those issues as you’re living your everyday life. Consider yourself lucky. But also know that that’s a privilege.
Do you think POCs WANT to have to deal with race daily? Do you think the LGBTQ community WANTS to have to hear slurs or be insulted or mocked? Do you think women WANT to endure misogyny?
Nobody WANTS to have to fight these things. Nobody enjoys it (and if you do, you should seek help). But we fight daily because we are terrified that the minute we stop fighting, we’ll lose our rights. We’ll be pushed back and things will get even worse than they already are.
So instead of wishing for everyone to just “be nice,” it might be better for all of us if you’d educate yourself. Learn why people are protesting. Learn why these issues exist. Learn what you can do to help others.
I’m not saying to never post anything funny or cute or carefree on social media. Hell, half my pictures are of my adorable dog. I love a good meme as much as the next person.
But you don’t get to excuse yourself from the national conversation and you don’t get to sit atop a moral high ground and ask others to “just get along.”
Because if your biggest problem in life is that you wish people would stop “being so mean” and “getting offended over everything,” then you’re no better than the white supremacists who marched in the streets in Charlottesville.
Know better. Do better. The end.