We all have a story. You've heard some of mine. What you haven't heard is how I feel about yours. So, here goes: Many of your narratives broke my heart (still do). The anger, I understand. The hostility and contempt over differences of opinions, not so much. What it tells me is that you are not open to new ideas. It's your way or the highway. You call the shots. You are right, and everyone else is wrong. There is no in-between. Dead stop. Zero progress.
My tongue is sore from biting it. Unfollow if you must. Cancel me if that makes you feel better. But understand one thing before you go: muffling my voice doesn't make yours stronger. Pretending my opinion doesn't matter isn't going to change my mind. And accusing me of being "this" or "that" to get me to question my character will never work. My ex pulled that shit for years. Look where it got him.
Many who follow me on social media have difficulty accepting the scathing and manipulative ways people are behaving right now. I know this based on past conversations. They appreciate my ban on politics and empathize with my personal uphill battles. But camaraderie doesn't pay the bills, and I can't help but wonder if all this effort is for nothing. *Taps keyboard*
Are you still there?
Self-doubt is tough to shake. It's comfortable, like an old pair of shoes that trip you up when their rubber toes hit marble floors. See what happens when bullies win? Bruises heal, but manipulation, insults, guilt, threats, and mockery will scar you for life. Ask anyone who's experienced this. I'm sure they will agree that it messes with your ability to distinguish insincerity from authenticity.
High levels of insecurity also leave you hardened to kind words. Compliments feel more like pity, and any praise seems forced. In fact, nothing appears natural except the deep contempt we feel towards ourselves after making another mistake. Disappointing others is not an option. Doing so can annihilate your ego. It may even prevent you from speaking your mind. Hell, you might even end up buying t-shirts that say it for you.
I recently shared a reel on Instagram, hoping to shed light on those facing similar issues. Immediately after posting, my inner voice said what it always does, "This is stupid. Nobody cares, and you look like an idiot." And then I started getting private messages thanking me for sharing my story. It wasn't the first time (and probably won't be the last) something like this has happened, but every time it does, a fragment of uncertainty breaks off and dies.
Life is full of tough decisions. One blunder can lead to so many problems. As a writer, knowing how to transfer thoughts without losing followers is tricky. All you can do is cross your fingers, hit publish, and hope no one shreds you to pieces afterward. No joke. This is why my comments are turned off. Even so, I feel my voice is worth listening to, or I wouldn't be doing this.
Bad things happen, I'll give you that. But we have shrouded ourselves in hostility—24/7—and it's wearing me down. People have resorted to violence to resolve their differences, hitting innocent bystanders with stray bullets day after day. It's Wild West bullshit and it doesn't end there. More and more children have begun packin' heat, revealing polished barrels to those who question their integrity or show disrespect. And don't get me started on misinformation, corruption, and corporate greed. My anxiety can only handle one disappointment at a time.
It seems as though, in our quest to conquer inequality, all we've managed to do as a society is create a new set of problems. Is freedom of speech no longer important? Why are we muting voices, suppressing opinions, and exploiting truth? Turning a blind eye to uncomfortable situations and erasing history isn't going to make them disappear. Shit happened. Why not use those experiences to teach our children right from wrong? What, exactly, do we hope to accomplish by accusing people of being anything other than human? And how can we ever expect to grow as a society, (re)UNITED as one, if we are completely split in half?
This isn't working. You can't tout rainbows and unicorns using the same mouth for hate, and we can't live together in two separate realities; it's not sustainable. We need a better plan. Perhaps Elon can shoot half of us to the moon and leave the rest down here so we can live like Stepford Wives—doing only what society permits. Nah, that won't work either. We'd probably end up killing each other for wearing the same outfit. Humans are funny that way.
Canceling someone because their viewpoints don't align with yours seems juvenile. It's okay to walk away when emotions run high; it's actually encouraged. But unless a person is abusive toward you, there is never a reason to silence them. Healthy debates are a two-way street, and I miss driving down those roads. You can't put someone like me in Pleasantville and expect us to thrive. We need variety and realism. We also need to be heard, and everyone deserves at least that much.