A previous version of this post was published on June 5, 2020 in The Fresno Bee.
Time to parent in real life & shut up on social media? YUP.
Recent current events are proving to be too much — mentally, emotionally, physically. Los Angeles (aka: the place where so many of my professional and personal dreams came true on television and in real life) was burned for about a week straight (or more?) and pretty much gone. GONE — lives, businesses, our collective spirit, my own affection for Southern California.
Many protested the death of George Floyd peacefully. Many stole, looted, vandalized, set street fires, blocked firetrucks so firefighters couldn’t extinguish fires, threw water bottles filled with cement at law enforcement and held signs that said “F— the police” and “Kill the rich.” (I was recently told off, scolded and shamed on my own social media profiles and pages for posting something nice my girls and I did for our local sheriff’s station — to try and counteract the misguided, trendy new collective hate for police officers who had nothing to do with current events…) Many are now angry, hurt and downright confused why criminals who caused anarchy (and/or violently resisted just arrest) are not apprehended or threatened with detainment and/or fines from local and state leaders like the rest of us were for not wearing a mask and questioning a curiously-extended ‘safer at home’ orders for COVID-19 just a few weeks ago (despite data that proved the disease was not as life-threatening-to-all as previously thought).
All are fighting one way or another — face to face and on social media. As a public ‘media/opinion personality’ I share thoughts, articles and/or videos that I find fascinating — media that challenges us to think individually and analyze past a blind, groupthink mainstream narrative. As a mom, I am utterly depleted and infuriated by all of it — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram shamefully riles me up more than I’m proud to admit. (You too?) The media-part of me deeply values freedom of speech and conversation. The private citizen part of me wishes everyone would just shut up. (Don’t tell my kids I said that. Saying ‘shut up’ is still a serious offense in our house.)
How novel it would it be if we all just stopped yelling at each other online and tended to our own kids, our own homes, our own families, our own friends, our own health and our own jobs (what’s left of them, anyways) in real life — you know, like the old fashioned days. Get to know our neighbors, talk current events with those we actually know and care about, hang out with our children without scrolling our phones to check if we were digitally assaulted someone we worked with over 10 years ago and haven’t seen or spoken to in-person since.
What would happen if we opted to not attack, berate, falsely accuse and/or put words in someone else’s mouth (online and in real life) because we didn’t agree with them — assuming that what they communicated was not a direct threat to community/personal safety and merely an alternative point of view. What if we all actually listened to counterpoints that we might not understand at first — I know I do, but I’m not so sure that others extend the same respect to me. (You too?) What if we all took a big break from going online — for just a day, or a week, or a month! — and actually spent quality time teaching our kids values, morals, how to look each other in the eyes and treat others and how to think as individuals through our actions. Maybe half the world’s issues would rectify if we all just stopped.
Because much of online vitriol fueling our latest tragedies is coming from parents who should frankly be indefinitely grounded from all devices asap.
The big slogan for raising children these days is “Be Kind” — a philosophy I deeply believe in, live by and post by (despite some harassment I’ve personally received from sharing some of my current views). Be kind with words — even if you don’t agree. Be kind with words — even if that person screams that you must ‘educate yourself’ (despite the fact that you have, and have subsequently come up with an opinion that does not please them). Be kind with words — even after that person berates you for respectfully responding to them in a way you would like to be responded to.
From what I’ve experienced online [from fellow parents], there’s a heck of a lot of “Do as I say, not as I do.” (From all sides. This piece here is admittedly not my ‘kindest’ — so fine, guilty for calling it all out.)
The same parents who claim to be outraged by hate are ironically first to pounce, puncture and eviscerate a stranger (or a colleague, or a friend) should that person have an opposing point of view. I wonder how some kids and teens would react if they discovered how downright disrespectful, condescending and rude their parents’ social manners truly are? Maybe these are the kind of parents who raise looters, criminals and/or protestors who throw injurious Molotov cocktails into crowds during ‘non-violent demonstrations’ as a way of being ‘heard.’
Attend a peaceful protest and share pictures and videos if it moves you? Fine! Share an alternative point of view if it strikes you as mind-blowing? Yes! Demolish a stranger’s or friend’s personal character (on their own profile, where you are voluntarily visiting) because they do not see the world in the same way you see it or did not say something the exact same way you would opt to say it? No social media for you for the next 2 weeks!
Because if we don’t grow up now — with our own actions, words and online stabbings — our kids’ future IS doomed at the sole fault of bad parents. (Some would say it already is.) Kids are watching. Reading. Listening. Learning. And they’re onto us. Be the change already. IN REAL LIFE, AT HOME, ONLINE.