The old saw about a room full of horse shit is right. I mean, write.
So just in case you didn’t hear this. Kid opens the door to a room, room is full of horse apples.
She starts digging like crazy. His father asks her why on earth?
Kid, being the eternal optimist, says, “With this much horse poop, there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
If you’ve been on Medium for a while like I have, which is since March ’18 but not as long as many others, you’ve seen and suffered through a whole lot of changes. Some of them not well-advised. You’ve also watched the Get Rich Quick Ponzi Scheme scammers infiltrate, then the influx of trollers and haters. I guess they got bored with other platforms and came looking for another place to infect. Well, they did. Like the old Poltergeist movie,
So much so that those of us who really are here to write and to do our level best to be of service to our readers have been under attack, quite a lot lately, especially as the Summer of the Return of Trump didn’t exactly pan out. Not just that, but a whole lot of other terrible disappointments, such as this:
It’s kinda overwhelming if you’re a climate change denier, an anti-vaxxer and virulent Trumper. Not a good year for you, nor is it a good year for a journalists, even if you’re a seriously bad actor journalist covering riots, BUT you’re Asian, which to my mind is what is more likely here:
So with all that going on, along with the wildfires and floods and folks losing homes and farms, and life savings while rich POS White boys blast off in space and mock the lowlifes stuck on the earth they so desperately want to leave behind, you can imagine how Medium writers feel. Especially those who write professionally, those who want to write professionally, and showed up with an earnest desire to make the world better. You, I salute, and this article is for you.
Look, the reasons for all that unfiltered, raw hate are far more than just the above. People are shit-scared, for good reason. If you’ve ever studied psychology, you and I are watching Skinner’s Box in action. The reference here is to what happens when you keep shocking creatures in a small space, and they turn on each other for escape. The box is planet earth. Everywhere we turn there’s another shock.
My handywoman Carol, who is slated to mind my house while I travel, lost her father three weeks ago. I called her to give her some instructions. She was watching her grandkids just down the hill from me. She told me that she’d just lost her father-in-law and her teenage son is in terrible crisis, and she can’t leave his side. She can’t work because of this. One damned thing after another. You can relate, I’ll bet. She’s not looking to take this out on anyone. She has keys to my house in case she needs a refuge. I wish I could do more.
Up here in Oregon, we wake up to smoky skies, the smell permeating everything just like last year, the loss of our lovely forests, increased mask mandates, and all the organizations I so desperately wanted to join have shut down all social activities, furthering the isolation factor. I get it. We’re already stressed. It’s hardly functional for folks who are losing their shit to take that out on folks online and elsewhere, folks who did nothing to them and who have their own shitshows to manage.
On one hand I have great compassion for people in terrible pain, but as I’ve written before, it doesn’t do anyone any good to act like a heat-seeking missile to hurt and try to kill the spirit of those you desperately want to blame but who are not to blame: Asians, Blacks, “Libtards,” name your target. The folks truly responsible seem to always get off the hook, because they are in positions of great power. It’s ever so much easier to be manipulated into hating people who either can’t fight back, or whom society already marginalizes.
I had a flash of insight (doesn’t happen often, usually right after an orgasm and just as fleeting) this morning. No, I didn’t have an orgasm while making coffee; not only would that have me percolating in the kitchen a hell of a lot more often but I’d make Folger’s rich. But I digress.
What occurred, and I’d love your thoughts on this, is that right now, a great many White men are beginning to feel the hopelessness, pressure, loss and angst that women, Black folks, Minorities in general, disabled, LGBTQ++ et. al. have always felt. They don’t much like it. Well, to that, I say join the club. We haven’t much liked it either, Skeezix. And coming after us about it won’t solve the issue. We aren’t the authors of it. The patriarchal system, which damages everyone including White men, is the author.
I dunno if I’m right but that sure feels like it’s part of the issue.
Instead, like the great fools we are, we lionize the rich, elevate the unworthy, and attack those who have nothing to do with the larger problems because we simply have to siphon off the stress.
Hey look, I’ve done this myself in my own way, usually when I write a snarky article. When I succumb to the anger it’s usually because my defenses got beaten down and I strike out. There’s nothing I am pointing out here that I’m not also responsible for, which is why I can see it in others. I dislike this in myself, but three things: I see it, I own it, and I am willing to do whatever I can to work with that part of myself and heal it.
A great many of you, my fellow writers, are people society already marginalizes, either women, powerful women, disabled, troubled, struggling, poor, you name it. You have a story and your story matters.
Lemme repeat that just in case you were making coffee and hoping for that orgasm:
YOU HAVE A STORY AND YOUR STORY MATTERS.
You likely are targets, and how you proactively deal with being a target for hate gives hope to people needing good news. Whether it’s about autism or disability or rape or being Black or whatever, doesn’t matter. When you and I write to uplift, we take ourselves up a notch. The higher you and I go, the harder it is for others to tear us down.
How you cope, how you see the world, how you dance with the demons in your lives are what give others hope, strategies, perspective, laughter and a way forward.
The greater courage is doing it despite the onslaught. Back when Dr Mehmet Yildiz first started encouraging writers to submit to Illumination, I recall hearing about a few writers who were terrified to submit because we had one deeply troubled rogue editor who came after those writers with claws. She came after me too. Ultimately she was removed from the platform. She was a harbinger of things to come. Now folks like that are all over. I block two or three every single day.
This is my point. Our mental hygiene, your mental hygiene, depends in part on your willingness to shut down the shit show when you see it coming. You do not have to read every comment. Most of all, you are not required to read comments that are intended to harm you enough to shut you up forever.
The other tactic the works against the Angry Mob is to be kind. Look, I am tired of seeing all the yard signs. What I am not tired of are comments that some Dear Reader has left on my article which offered me such sweetness that I wept. That gesture not only heals Dear Writer, but it also uplifts Dear Reader. It goes both ways. That is the law of the sacred. When you heal others you are also healing you.
I got this the other day, and wanted to share it with you. This is not a brag. This is an example of what YOU can say to Dear Writer whose work makes a difference in your day. You can’t begin to know how such words heal the heart. I have this on my computer for those days where the horse apples rise to nose level and I’ve lost sight of my pony:
…May your day be filled with the deep, embodied knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of many through the power and truth of your words. Writing is such an ephemeral thing; for me, and for those who are close to me who practice the writer’s craft, the words we write, once they are out in the world, in the air, have their own trajectory. We don’t know how they ‘land’ with others, we wonder if our communication is understood, we lose all ‘control’ once the work is released into the world. It can be a challenging, difficult, vulnerable way to live, sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings and perceptions with an invisible crowd that you may never meet. So in the midst of all of this, you write with such courage, vulnerability, passion, and LIFE, sharing even the most difficult moments and experiences in service of readers who you will never meet. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I need to do this more often, too. Again, there is nothing I suggest to you that I don’t hold myself to as well. Every single time I choose kindness, or a caring gesture, I wash away layers and layers of that hateful miasma that others are trying so very hard to paint on others. I understand and have compassion for the compulsion, but it isn’t how we heal. It’s how we burn more people in a world already on fire.
Your words matter. Your stories matter. Your comments matter. That is, those comments meant to acknowledge, help and heal. And here’s the piece, a comment one kind reader left for me which I keep on my computer for bad days, and with thanks for hanging out with me this far:
Every single word you write or speak to uplift, uplifts you. Every single word you write or speak to heal, heals you. It’s a sacred law. If you want to feel better, write a kind comment, do something loving. Nothing in the world can help you feel more worthy than to act in such a worthy way.
Of course I forget this at times. I’m human, I struggle, and I am doing my best. I fail. And because I fail and care about it I recommit and try harder. That is what evolution looks like. It’s the intent that matters.
My hat is off to those of you Dear Readers and Writers who care enough to read, to write, to do your best. To stick with it in spite of, and whose words heal the spite of those determined to harm. You know who you are. You are the lifesavers in a flood of sewage. I am trying hard to return the favor.