How to handle the politics... of Facebook
I had a business feature about an amazing woman planned for you today, but the events of this week have caused so much stir in my heart, I’m going to push it to next week.
Today I want to talk about something else.
Something I’m certain everyone can relate to, no matter what area of the political spectrum you’re on.
The politics… of Facebook. Or Instagram. Or wherever you hang out online, where people are posting and commenting.
It’s a HOT topic of conversation I’ve had with friends lately.
“How do I respond to so and so’s comment?”
“DO I respond to so and so’s comment?”
“Is it bad if I unfriend or hide her?”
“Ugh… there’s so much negativity out there. Part of me wants to post my opinion, but I don’t feel like getting attacked. (And does it even matter?)”
Even if you aren't a social media person, and you haven’t experienced any of the above dilemmas, I'm sure you’ve felt the flurry of energy out there.
…. Because it’s dark.
Really, really dark.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my character has been tested this week.
I’ve had to ask myself again and again, who am I? And what do I stand for?
Not just politically. But personally.
On social media, we’re interacting with our friends.
Each time we post, the people in our social networks — people who may or may not agree with us — are going to see what we write. How we feel. What we believe.
And that is, in this 2016 election, quite a big pill to swallow.
Which brings me to the topic of today’s post, because it’s not actually about politics at all.
It’s about empowerment.
The power to decide who you are, no matter what anyone else says about you.
I’ll give you an example.
In the time it’s taken me to write this, I had a friend of a friend blast me on Facebook for a video I shared about two men with Trump signs harassing girls at a women's college on the east coast.
It was a lengthy, angry comment, detailing why people like me who share these kinds of videos are the ones, in fact, spreading hatred in the world.
Realizing that this comment served no purpose other than "getting back at me," you wanna know what I replied to her?
“Okay. I hear you.”
And that was it.
I acknowledged her, because all people want at the end of the day is to be heard. But I didn’t give her anything. I didn’t feed her darkness.
Instead, I let her sit in it.
I let her sit in her own darkness. Alone.
With her message, she was essentially saying, “I’m angry at you! And I need you to be angry at you too!”
And in less than 5 words, I told her no.
No. You can’t touch me. You can try to tell me who I am, but I won’t let you.
I’ll tell you something right now: There is NO better feeling than being completely unafraid of and unaffected by what other people say about you.
And the reason it feels so good, is because this feeling is freedom.
Total and complete freedom.
There’s many brands of feminism and female empowerment out there, but this one is mine.
Freedom to be yourself. To trust your own judgment. And to walk whatever path you were put on this earth to walk. Regardless of what anyone says about you.
Even if that means going against what certain feminists may tell you.
“You should be angry! The world is unjust! Get angry!”
If you feel angry, and you believe that you should be, then be angry. Because that’s what you choose.
But if you don’t want to live with anger, and don’t believe that you need to be — you don’t have to. You can choose to let your anger go. And you can still be a feminist!
The bottom line is this:
The power to decide who you are lies solely with you.
No one gets to tell you who you are, because YOU tell you who you are.
If you’re holding yourself to someone else’s standard —
“I can’t express my anger because that’s not zen,”
“I can’t NOT be angry because then I won’t be a feminist,”
“I can’t post how I really feel because so and so isn’t going to like me,”
then you’re living constrained, and that is not what empowerment is about.
There is nothing empowered about withholding your viewpoints to please other people.
You can choose to withhold them, yes, for reasons that, again, you choose.
But if you’re withholding the expression of who you are and what you believe because you fear the consequences of what someone else might think, say or do, then you’re letting other people have power over you, and you’re living suppressed.
And what a shame that is! Because you, my dear, are AMAZING.
You wanna know who’s consistently out there in the media? Commenting on everybody’s posts?
Really loud people with obnoxious, thoughtless opinions.
You wanna know who’s consistently not out there in the media?
Kind, intelligent, “quiet” women who think, “Gosh, there’s already so much opinion online, I don’t want to be like all those obnoxious people. Does the world really need to know what I think anyway?”
Now, you don’t have to post your opinions online if you don’t want to. Nor do you even have to engage in politics whatsoever — if that’s what you choose. Because again, no one gets to dictate who you are.
But if you are someone who is feeling suppressed, feeling like you can’t express who you are online, please know that that obnoxious person ISN’T you.
I guarantee if you were to put your voice out there online, you would get a slew of thanks from people in gratitude for your refreshing viewpoints.
I know I certainly have!
I lived in fear of “rocking the boat” for the longest time. Trying my best to always present my most polite self. The self that everyone would like.
And that worked for a while.
Until the pain of withholding who I really was became too much to bear, and I could no longer hide anymore.
It was a scary day the day I decided to be myself — publicly. On Facebook, in a blog, in a book.
Because I knew deep down, all along, that the cost of being who you are, is that some people aren’t going to like it.
And it hurts… for a bit.
But then a REALLY, really wonderful thing happens…
You feel free!
You’re not shackled to anyone else’s standards. Unable to voice how you feel because you fear the darkness of whomever is going to attack you.
You can hit “send” or “post” without anxiety.
You can see someone write something nasty about you and think, “It’s okay. What they’re saying isn’t true about me. Because I know who I am.”
Ultimately, you get to trust your own judgment of yourself.
And it feels GOOD.
In a world in which we have so little control, this is the one thing you will ALWAYS have control over.
So take control of it!
Take control of how you feel about yourself. What you believe. And then act on it.
Live empowered, rooted in your beautifully authentic power, and your light will shine brighter than you could ever have imagined.
Blasting away whatever darkness surrounds you.
And I think we can all agree that the world, in it’s currently dark state, could really use a bit of our light.
P.S. Empowerment, by nature, will always be a welcoming club. So if you liked this post, please share on Facebook or forward to a friend!
Thumbnail image via: We Heart It