I thought I was done with this topic.
I burned at the time, in shame, in fury, in isolation, in grief, in the amazement at my own power – I burned in so many ways.
And eventually, I talked about it. And so many people came forward and said, thank you. I’m so sorry you experienced this. I’m so sorry this was your story. And – me too.
So I thought it was done. Over now. Lessons in my life I needed to learn that had been learned and I could pass safely through to the other side. I had no desire to be a spokesperson for this.
It was a small, closed chapter of my life that eventually led to beautiful things and a gathering of true sisterhood and deep friendships and opportunity.
(The beauty is always after the ashes, when new life springs).
I witnessed something that made my stomach turn. A very public burning of a woman.
Someone had very deliberately posted on their social media to warn others about a woman who ran an online coaching practice.
And there were – I kid you not – over 300+ vitriolic posts and comments. Many by people who didn’t know or had ever heard of her but were expressing thanks for the warning.
I tried not to give it energy. But I couldn’t help but scroll through the comments. A slight handful expressed sympathy for the person.
Said it must be something in her past or her DNA that caused her to be this way.
This poor woman was trialed via social media, attacked, and found guilty without ever having chance to speak out.
I flicked over to her own social media page, and (very dignified I thought) she had only left a short bible verse and a sad emoji. Her website was pulled down, her social media pages no longer active.
In short – thanks to trial and burning via social media – her life transformed overnight. Sadly, I don’t think she is one of the strong ones. Here to deliver a message and a purpose, who has the inner strength to continue regardless.
And so here lies another life trialed, burned, and buried by social media.
In this era we have been gifted incredible power to speak out. To voice opinion, to share story, witness, testimony.
We have been granted the gifts – and we are using them not for the greater good, but to burn one another alive.
I’m not arguing for lack of responsibility on her behalf. That’s not the issue – the issue is that I’m furious because the way in which this Salem style lynch mob mentality continues online.
When we have been given all this power
– that what we continue to do with it is to burn each other alive at the stake.
And when we see others doing it – what on earth encourages us to join in with the tearing apart of an actual stranger and something we know nothing or mere fragments about?!?
Is that sisterhood, community over competition, all of those other sister-support hashtags I see bandied around on Instagram?
Is that soulful, spiritual, loving or even at its basest level, representative of basic human kindness??
I read of Leonie Dawson’s decision to create another non-persona based business and take a break away from social media recently, in part due to how she felt her online community was no longer a safe, fun space to be in.
She told of how even her husband had received vitriolic attacks concerning his appearance.
And I cried.
I cried for Leonie, I cried for the woman online I did not know, I cried for myself and my husband and what he has had to deal with by having a wife who chose to live in the public eye, like the time one charming troll threatened us as a family by saying ‘you can’t hide, we know where you live’.
(Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out by the way, I post it all over social media).
I cried for the fact that this is so reminiscent of the playground bullies who clearly never grew up and I cried for the women so depressed, repressed and angry with their receiving of this experience called life that their only reprieve is to tear down that of others.
I don’t know what the answer is. But it’s not ‘well if you can’t take it, go do something else’ or ‘toughen up’.
We are all trying to find our way in this world and sometimes we will screw it up entirely. That doesn’t mean anybody deserves hatred and poison thrown in their faces when we make a public mistake (or several).
Why is it we struggle to stand together in our vulnerability? Why is it we cannot reach out to help one another? Why is it instead of reaching for understanding first, we seek to publicly denounce and shame?
Why is it in an era of ‘love and light’, when we sing the praises of incredible women like Brene Brown who champion our vulnerability, we all clap hands (rightly) for the positive body image movement-
How is it that so many of us fall into the pack mentality of tearing another down? Where does the love and light, the big sisterhood support movement go during the times of bitching and vitriol?!
So many questions and I have so few answers.
I stand comforted in the knowledge that I’m surrounded and upheld by women on their own personal missions for such greatness and impact that they have little time or head space for gossip, unkind words, online drama. They’re women minding their own business. I’m thankful for them and their vibrations daily.
Yet I’m aware by talking about this I’m possibly raising more negative vibrations, I’m stirring something old and laid to rest, and that I should carry on with what I do best and let them all get on with it.
I’m the mother of two daughters. To think of them experiencing what I went through, or Leonie, or the poor woman from last week –
Feels like a butcher hacking at the edges of my soul.
There’s got to be a better way to coexist together as women. To stand together side by side even in the mistakes and hurt and anger and frustration. There has to be an end to public lynching- and for that to happen maybe it’s not the online hater phenomenon that needs to change to begin with
It’s right at grassroots level. In and amongst the daily conversations we have about one another, offline or on.
But deeper than that
Maybe when we all become happier in ourselves
So caught up and focussed on our own purpose, mission and vision
So absorbed in our own healings and deep love for ourselves
And our desires which ultimately I believe we all share, to believe in and see and reach for a better world
Maybe then no room will be left for the hatred to exist.
We are blessed by each other, even when those we look to mess it up or become imperfect or become entirely vulnerable.
And the monsters under the bed aren’t the things we see in front of us
But the things we refuse to see hiding within.
The only way we get to move through hurt, disappointment, let-down, grief, frustration, anger – is by calling that into the light and out
Not by pulling others down into darkness.
And for all those suffering or who have ever been burned
Know that your business is to not sacrifice what you believe- to lay down for the command of others.
But to continue irregardless
To hold faith
To support those around you
And to not retreat.
Every day we are gifted with choices – the words we choose to speak, the actions we choose to make.
There cannot be more online casualties and sacrifices of the voices we ALL need to hear.
So choose with love, choose to open portals of tenderness and to dissipate the hatred that drive so many voices to silence.