Hello, my name is Tam. I’m a girl with feelings, happies, sads, annoyances just like you and generally, I’m fumbling through life just as you are. :) Why am I telling you this?
The other day I had a spare moment and absent-mindedly started browsing the intarwebs and I stumbled upon a public chat room on a ning site in which a few people were chatting. I think the people did not realise that the chat room was public and that anyone browsing (like me) could read their conversations because they were writing some things about other people (“high profile” online people in my circle of peers) that I assume most people wouldn’t simply share so blatantly if they knew anyone could read it. They were so blasé about it, as if talking about which shoes they did or did not like, rather than people. This was pretty shocking to me.
Then another thing happened just a couple of days ago. A Facebook acquaintance got the wrong end of the stick and thought I deleted a comment of hers (I hadn’t), she seemed upset in general. A lot of comments on my posts come through while I’m asleep (as I’m UK based), so I wasn’t able to attend to her being upset straight away (I usually do if someone is upset on a thread of mine; I care).
So when I woke up in the morning and looked at the thread I noticed she was upset and checked out her profile page to see if she was ok. Then, I was about to send her a personal message when I scrolled down her page and noticed she had written an angry post about me with stuff in there that would make most people hide in a corner and cry for a week; according to her I was narcissistic, constantly shared videos of myself singing, over-shared my ‘nauseating life’, loved being ‘fawned over my groupies’, produced crap art and a whole bunch of other quite horrible accusations and judgements I won’t elaborate on. So that was super fun.
While I was fairly able to look underneath all the judgments and see her pain and how this was *her* stuff, (when someone really goes overboard on judging you, it’s actually easier to see that it’s ‘their stuff’, lol, if the accusations are more subtle you can make it all about yourself more easily, so I have to thank her for that, ha), I was still blown away by how some people just seem to forget that ‘people you know online’ are people with feelings too. (I’m sure she didn’t mean for me to read it, she must’ve thought the post was protected, but even still, I wouldn’t ever dream of writing something similar to what she wrote about me anywhere about anyone, protected, public or private).
I know I live my life quite publicly and have acquired a fairly large “following” over time. (I put ‘following’ in inverted commas because to me each and every person who reads my stuff, or is part of my ning network, is an FB friend/ acquaintance, takes my classes, watches me on youtube etc etc is a beautiful, flesh and blood, alive with feelings and needs human being to me. No, I’m not always able to connect with each and every person personally, but I respect and love them all the same.)
Sometimes when you’re seen to become more ‘high profile’ (whatever that is!) or more successful, and have a larger network of people ‘following’ you, it triggers stuff in people. Sometimes it’s jealousy, sometimes it’s admiration, sometimes it’s celebration and sometimes it means that people forget that a ‘successful person’ is just like you; a person with feelings and needs who can hurt just like you.
It’s almost as if becoming more successful makes people feel that they have permission to bash you around more than they would with someone who is less in the public eye. It’s like that with celebrities. When you see what people write in the newspapers or online about celebrities it can be so mean and judgemental, like they’re not people anymore, but just some sort of public property that can be bashed about and judged.
And I’m not putting my success/ growth/ “fame” on the same level as celebrities (lol, I’m glad it’s not like that, I’m scared to imagine the ‘shit’ I’d have to deal with!), but Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Obama, Angelina Jolie, Eddie Izzard, Tony Blair, Me, You, The Homeless Person on Your Street and your Neighbour: all the same. All flesh, blood, human, with feelings, needs, sads, happies and ambition and dreams and hopes and inspiration and insomnia and whatever. We’re all just people, people. No better, no worse than anyone else. Human. And need to be treated as human, not as shoes.
The other thing I want to bring up is this. When you ‘follow’ someone online, however way you do it: FB/ their blog/ youtube, whatever. The only thing you glean from their lives is a mere snippet. Some people share more, some people share less. Even the person who shares deeply in depth stuff about their lives is still someone whose story is incomplete: you do not know them fully. There is so much more to a person than their online output. Notice how your own brain tries to fill in the blanks. The assumptions we make about others based on snapshots and snippets of that which they do share. And notice how those filled-in blanks are highly influenced by your own story, your own baggage, your own life choices. It’s what some people call ‘projection’. When we know only some stuff about others we project the rest and ‘the rest’ is very biased by you.
When someone triggers you, online or elsewhere, it’s a good idea to dig deep inside and look at what it is about you that is triggering you so much. I do it. Whenever I’m browsing online and someone or something somewhere triggers me, I don’t go to the next chat room bashing this person or thing about, instead, I look inward and I own my shit. Then, when I’ve identified what is up for me around that person or that post or that image, I empathise with myself and then, I actively send love to that person/ post or image that triggered me in the first place. This is how I like to make the world a more peaceful and non-violent place: by owning my shit and working it out. Sure, at times I go off on one and judge and blame internally, and still: I always come back to owning it. Why was this so painful for me? Why did that person trigger me so. What inside of me needs love and attention?
One of the core milestones on the path of consciousness transformation is the moment when we can fully integrate the radical awareness that our emotional responses to the world and to things that happen to us are never caused by another person. This awareness stands in stark contrast to our habitual speech, which states that we feel what we feel because of what someone else did. Instead, we learn, if we apply ourselves deeply to this practice, that our emotions are only caused by the meaning we assign to what someone did, and that meaning is generated from within us, not by the actions.
But mostly, I just wish that people remember that whoever you’re dealing with, online, offline, ‘famous’, local, whoever; we are all people that need to be treated with care, respect, love and understanding. And I want people to know that I’m just a girl with all the usual problems that girls have and I have ups and downs and lefts and rights and yays and omgs and glitter and broccoli in my life; just like you, just. like. you. :) I often don’t shower, have bed hair, wear dirty socks, drink too much carbonated soft drinks and can be a beautiful mess. And sometimes I shine and love my life and have epiphanies with rainbows and moonbeams and happy stuff. Me, you, them; we’re all connected and the same.
And sometimes, seeing how people treat people online makes me want to hide away, skulk, dim my light, just live quietly, diminish, grow quiet, be afraid. And then something inside me roars and says: No. No matter how much someone else is triggered and is incapable of owning their own shit: I will not hide my voice. I am here. I am here to stay. I will shine, share, be who I am and how I need to be, want to be. And I will continue to try and connect, even with those who attack. And I will retreat or disconnect in peace from those who insist on not connecting. And I will continue to offer what I have to offer to those who want it and I will encourage others to shine their light and share their voice as well. I’m not going to censor who I am. Hi! I am Tam. I’m here to stay. :)
Thank you for listening and being here. I appreciate you. <3