Yesterday I had one of “those days”, when much of the external stimuli with which I had to deal seemed purposely placed in my path by some higher being in order to really test my resolve to think more positively. And yes, I found myself slipping back into old, familiar thought patterns, which left me feeling pretty icky the rest of the day. Maybe I need one of those wrist-snap things that Larry Hagman used to hawk for the Great American Smoke-out, and snap my wrist every time I feel myself slipping into familiar, but not undesirable, negative thoughtspace. (Here’s a quick Instagram reaction I had to yesterday at one point.)
Anyway, I just read a message on Facebook by SF author David Gerrold (whose place in SF lore would be secure if the only thing he’d ever written was the Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”), in which, in the course of explaining why he doesn’t like laughing at photos of morbidly obese people, he says something that lines up with my thinking these days:
As human beings, we have the capacity to stand for each other, to support each other, to be compassionate and nurturing. We have the very human capacity to make a difference for everyone around us — not just friends and family, but everyone we come in contact with. Other human beings deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
This isn’t a new realization for me. It’s merely today’s recognition that toxic behavior of any kind makes me uncomfortable. (Last year, I edited out of my life a friend of twenty years because despite her unerring moral compass, I couldn’t stand the way she bullied and abused anyone who dared to question her unerring moral compass. Instead of teaching, she attacked. Her unerring moral compass was applied to everyone else’s behavior but her own. I also culled her enablers and yes-men.)
I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, we all do. But as a rule of thumb — I make a continuing effort to NOT judge people by who they are. Instead, I respond to what they say and what they do. I look at their behavior. Because what a person says and does is the clearest expression of what he or she is up to on the planet.
I think Facebook (and all other social media) has the power to transform who we are as a society. We can learn from each other. We can learn to listen to each other. We can learn to respect each other. Or we can be a global circular firing squad.
Every time we post, we’re making a choice. We’re choosing to elevate ourselves and the people we connect with — or we’re choosing to kick ourselves a little bit farther down the muddy slope. I choose not to be an enabler.
I agree with the "look at the behavior, not the person" argument. Behavior can be changed; something like body weight or the shape of one's nose is much more difficult to change. Also, how I behave toward someone affects them directly; the size of my waist does not.
I also grow tired of the mocking on the basis of matters of what might be termed "taste" – flipping around this weekend, one of the channels (VH1, maybe?) was showing a clip from a breakdancing tournament, and interspersing it with comments from comedians, mostly centering on how breakdancing was now "stupid" because it was "outmoded."
And it just wasn't funny; it was petty. Breakdancing takes a crazy amount of skill and strength (I think it does; I've never tried it). It just seems shabby to run down something you personally don't like just because you, personally, don't like it.