I asked my ideal reader, who also happens to be my life partner, to review and comment on a previous version of what you’re about to read. She provided wonderful insights, and closed out her communication with the following:
You have to watch Twitter…it can be a mean hateful place and getting sucked into it does you no good. It’s not helpful or productive. It’s no good for the spirit and soul. In this current time, shouldn’t we be looking for the light and love instead of perpetuating the hate and anger?
Twitter can be a marvelous venue for community building, independent journalism, education, sharing one’s art, and relatively direct access to people with whom one would otherwise never be able to communicate so immediately. However, it can also be a festering pit of anonymous hate, button pushing, conspiracy, fake news, chest thumping, masturbatory trolling, and bullying.
In other words, for better AND for worse, right up my alley.
In the aftermath of Trump I shifted considerable attention to Twitter, well before I knew how to interact without absorbing all of the negative energy. So I absorbed a lot. Still do, truth be told. But I’m learning how to limit my time, check my interactions, and avoid people and topics that stoke the fires of my barely dormant misanthropy and pessimism. I refuse to ever bury my head in the sand again, but I also need to take care of myself as I put my worldview into action. Shoot, if I’m being completely honest, I need to figure out what my worldview is and from whence it came.
Here is what I wrote last week, modified and mellowed given the sage advice of a person who has to live with me! (Yes, I know. God bless her.)
As I sit in a coffee shop in Pittsburgh, PA, there’s a man in Cleveland who murdered a random stranger while on Facebook live and blamed his decisions on an ex-girlfriend.
That’s all the background that really matters at this point. If you want additional information, a simple Google search will garner you everything from opinions to the actual video of an innocent man dying as a gun emerges from the upper right portion of the screen. I will not watch the video nor will I provide you with a direct link, but I saw a still taken just moments before the murder. It looks like a scene from a single-shooter POV game. It’s horrifying enough just having that information.
The murderer claims to have slain more and promises additional lives taken should his bruised ego not be healed by the woman he claims is the reason for his atrocities.
I followed various threads on Twitter related to several sub-communities, and what became obvious to me reading through the timelines, retweets, responses, and likes is this: No, we can’t all just get along.
It’s a distinctly pessimistic and misanthropic perspective.
And to be completely honest, these are my default positions.
I’ve spent much of my adult life both fighting and counteracting them with non-mainstream spiritual exploration, meditation, running, writing, mantras, and, most recently, pharmaceutical and other similar contributions.
But this occurrence, and what I’m seeing on Twitter along with the mainstream news coverage, challenges my drive toward optimism and philanthropy.
In a word: Men.
The world remains so frustratingly misogynistic, patriarchal, and hyper-masculinized that the murderer’s ex-girlfriend was relentlessly trolled on social media, felt compelled to apologize for HIS behavior, and a significant portion of my viewed and experienced sample immediately placed at least some blame on her.
I see this across media, not just the online social variety: blaming women for men’s behaviors.
Rape? Her fault.
Infidelity? Her fault.
Professional failure? Her fault.
A man broadcasts the premeditated, self-broadcasted and narrated murder of an innocent bystander. And? Her fault.
I’m reading the thoughts of person after person, the comments and the headlines, and there are entirely too many people (…one person is too many, but I’m talking about over 50%…) laying anywhere from 1% to most of the blame on her.
The right answer is:
ZERO PERCENT OF IT IS HER FAULT.
Professional failure? Zero.
When I do something bad or wrong or illegal or unethical…I did it. That’s it.
We really have become a culture of limited personal responsibility…from our governments to our economies to our public sectors to our private sectors to our individual behavior.
By “we,” I mean men.
Unchecked, I suspect we’d destroy humanity. (You might argue we’re already a decent portion of the way there.)
Not the world. We’re trying, but the earth will figure out a way forward once the scourge of flaccid penises with too much time, money, and power self-eliminates.
But humanity? It’s unclear to me right now.
I’m finding most of my optimism resting in those who are NOT white, heteronormative, Christian, men.
And all this testosterone? Also, unclear to me right now.
We’ve got to begin looking long and hard in the mirror.
And listening to the communities who’ve persevered our supremacy for centuries.
P.S. (1 week after first draft, several drafts in.)
As I sit in a different coffee shop in Pittsburgh, PA, the man in Cleveland who murdered a random stranger while on Facebook live and blamed his decisions on an ex-girlfriend…has apparently committed suicide. As for all of us left wandering the earth, there should be nobody blaming her. If anything, we might consider taking some responsibility ourselves for perpetuating debilitating, dehumanizing, and clearly dangerous sex and gender stereotypes.
P.P.S. (1 week after P.S., several additional drafts later.)
Admittedly, I’ve endeavored here, and in general over the past 6+ months, toward confirmation bias. That is, seeking information and examples that bolster the negativity and fatalism coursing through my consciousness. I’ve selectively ignored examples, perhaps the preponderance of examples, countering my misanthropic narrative. I’ve largely ceased all of the above-mentioned behaviors meant to counteract my unhealthy clinging to nihilistic melancholy. I need to turn all of it around. My wife’s words seem to capture it perfectly: In this current time, shouldn’t we be looking for the light and love instead of perpetuating the hate and anger?