I woke up this morning to a text from a friend saying folks online are going after me and my fiancee and Elephant because of that article about cults, and facts being more important than rumors, and love in response to tragedy, not hate…I don’t even get it, I called my own childhood community out on various things (while appreciating other parts of it) for years before social media platformed that kind of thing and made it, too often, rumor-based and degraded.
It’s like trying to call things out on facts while appealing to our better angels is a lose-lose, these days.
It’s little wonder that so few good people enter politics, society (weaponized by social media comments, anonymity) is vicious and degraded.
It’s a wonder than so many good people still enter public service—their bravery is so much greater than mine.
How it feels to be me: Elephant Journal (a community of 100s and thousands of writers, not led by me, not my voice, just guided by me in terms of journalistic ethics and mission) constantly covers controversial issues that are important to a kind, honest, fair, needs-to-improve society. Abortion rights. Vaccination. Food access. Affordable housing. Communication in relationship. Stress, burnout, fear, right livelihood, composting, eco homes, mindful travel…everything.
And in so doing we, and I, touching on controversial issues, get hated on by both sides of any debate, the extreme edges of each. And then, in the middle, there are some brave and nuanced, fact-based comments. I don’t mean the middle politically, but the middle in terms of the height of a mountain, reflecting kindness, education, nuance, understanding contradictory notions and values (like, my latest, don’t call everything a cult, but some communities are cults, that can be established based on facts, not rumors; and, don’t turn the love and kindness following this local firestorm climate crisis tragedy of 1,000 plus lost homes into hate and mob mentality).
When I write such, with good intentions, and do my best, which is always imperfect, there are sometimes degraded anonymous or public forums that start up hating about me, and what I’ve said, though they have no idea who I am, and don’t really care of course what I’m trying to get at. And it’s painful.
And I wouldn’t change that part—because the pain means I am open, learning, vulnerable, caring, feeling, and that is where I want to be.
But, still, yes, it does make me want to retire, not try to help, give up on society and humanity. But that’s how “they” win. We can’t let social media rumors and hate and a lack of caring about the vital issues continue. We have to try, right? So then I go back to trying, and caring.
But what if I don’t want to keep getting attacked, anonymously and otherwise? Is my only choice to stop caring, to retire, to go away?