I needed to take a break from social media last week. With everything happening in the world, I felt that I needed to take my own space, pull away from technology and simply turn within instead of oversharing.
I withdrew from posting my opinion on current events because for one, the app was already flooded with similar quotes and images circulating among accounts, and two, I needed time to process what I was really thinking and feeling about everything that's happened in 2020 so far. Instead of writing a post on Instagram or Facebook, I went out and volunteered at local food drives in my community last week.
My full time job is as a director of an alternative high school that predominately serves at-risk African American and Hispanic youth. I've worked as an administrator and teacher in this setting for about five years, devoting my time to increasing the possibilities of success for my students. I genuinely love the connections and experiences I've garnered along the way as it's my passion to help others reach their best selves, and I'm able to do that in many creative ways within the school setting.
I send an email to my mailing list every Sunday night to spark inspiration and positivity before a new work week begins. This past Sunday, instead of including current events in my newsletter, I decided to share a story about my adventures in Italy when I was 21 years old. I wanted to lighten things up, offer an escape from the seemingly consistent stream of negativity and just share some highlights of my life. I didn't do this to ignore or detract from the riots and protests occurring around the world - I remained committed to Struck Inside Out's mission of spreading love and positivity - especially now when the world needs it most.
I received an aggressive email from someone who I considered to be a friend, attacking me for not talking about racial injustices in my newsletter and for not using my platform correctly. I replied letting her know that instead of writing about how I felt, I went out and took action to volunteer my time and help in whatever way I felt that I could. I asked her what she had done to help the situation and if she thought that sending me a hateful email was sparking the change she was apparently fighting for.
I then received texts from this person not only attacking my brand and message, but harassing me as a person. Her dialogue had nothing to do with current events or me using my voice to help the situation, rather she spent 24 hours sending spiteful and mean messages about my life and character. She made assumptions about how I got to where I am based solely off my appearance, insinuating that my parents paid for my college tuition (even though I'm still very much paying off my student loans).
She went as far to say that the only reason I got my position as director of the school was because the school was in a period of transition at the time, that no one else wanted the position and so they offered it to me, and that my parents must have forced me to take the job since they "didn't pay for me to go to college to be a bartender."
I didn't reply to any of her texts, yet the stream of negativity continued all day, where I was in shock that someone who I had a great rapport with in the past could be so vicious, angry and abusive. Her harassment would have justified filing a restraining order, yet the more she was met with silence, the crueler she became. Although I don't believe any of what she said to be true about who I am, it still really hurt to read those messages. I've never dealt with someone who was filled with such misdirected rage, wanting to take down anyone and anything along with her.
What is this situation really about now - the racial injustices and systemic racism that's occurred in the world or someone's delusional rantings to support her own insecurities?
How was her desire to change racial injustices being used in a way to actually affect change by personally attacking me on matters that had nothing to do with current events? Weren't her actions reflective of exactly what she's trying to expel? How was her voice being used to rid the world of its hate by harassing someone with the same hate that sparks judgment, divide and wars?
I'm not writing this post for attention on how this situation has affected me, rather I want to bring to light this type of egocentric, pseudo moral high ground in response to current events, which only perpetuates the problem. This behavior doesn't create change, it only spreads more hate. Attacking me through a screen may have made her feel that she's doing something righteous for her cause, but in reality, she hasn't made a single positive stride forward by spending hours obsessing over my life and what she believes I should or should not be doing with my voice.
My mission with Struck Inside Out has always been grounded in uplifting, inspiring and supporting others. I will never stray from that and I won't apologize for staying committed to my own voice - one that's remained consistent since I started blogging seven years ago. In a world that showcases every personal and intimate moment, I didn't need to share what action I took last week to prove that I care about global injustices. I know that I care, and that's enough.
Maybe the problem isn't so much about what we're doing or not doing on social media to spark change, but the actions we're taking in our everyday lives to spread our message. Yes, a story or post to spread awareness on sensitive topics can certainly help, but to become the change you want to see, to embody the message of your cause, is where real change occurs.
I wish this person well and I hope that she's able to make the changes she so fervently wants to see, but if she continues to act in the same way as oppressors do, then she's only adding more injustices to a world that's already endured excessive violence. Positive change starts from within, and only from within, can you spread it without.