Being Triggered is No Reason to Censor

I honestly strive to be level headed, compassionate and understanding, especially to all those around me who are going through difficult times.  I earnestly try to keep my overly critical comments to myself, and try to understand why I feel the need to be so harsh, rather than, whatever the opposite of an opinionated, judgemental so-and-so.  In this post, I am breaking that silence, and saying to hell with it.  I have a strong opinion on those who feel triggered by things in our society and then take great strides to try and ban or censor those things for other people.  And basically, I think these people to need to grow up, and not project really shitty things that have happened to them onto others.  I believe censorship teaches us nothing, and banning things directly violates our freedoms, and yes, I think less of you for wanting to impose your skewed belief onto me.

 

A few weeks ago, I had a friend tell me that she supported the banning of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” because every time she heard the lyrics, “what’s in this drink?” she felt triggered.  It was a painful reminder of the situation that lead up to her first rape and she was in complete shock that I wrote about not wanting to ban it here.  Now I know she shared this very painful moment with me to illicit sympathy and understanding as to what she went through every time she heard the song.  The pain, is for her, still as fresh today as it was many years ago.  And while I wanted to pause, and give her a shoulder to cry on, the realist in me took over and basically told her that regardless of her specific situation, banning a song would accomplish nothing.  You cannot shelter yourself from that specific phrase for all time, and you have zero right to impose your pain on the rest of us.  That is plain wrong.  To take away something from me, that I love, because it causes you pain is the epitome of selfish.

Here is what I equate this thinking to, in all it’s ridiculous form.  Imagine, as I know many of us can, myself included, that the word rape makes you uncomfortable.  Now imagine, for example that any form of that word would trigger in you some form of emotional response, as again, it does for so many of us.  Now, let us imagine that you are shopping for peanut butter, and decide to quickly peruse the ingredient list to ensure that it is appropriate for your specific dietary needs, and BAM!  Without warning, you see the word “rapeseed” listed innocently amongst the listed inclusions.  And you, understandably, do a double take.   Now, here’s where we see rational get overtaken by the emotional, because in that moment, you vow that you will never look at the word rapeseed again.  You vow further to ensure that you a) never read an ingredient list again, or b) start petitioning food manufacturers to take this obscene word off of the list (screw anyone whose allergic to it) or c) you work in earnest to get this seed renamed for the sake of “all the children” who will be exposed to such a vile word (again not taking into the fact that this could have serious consequences for those who are unaware of the change and ingest it accidentally).

Yes, this example is ridiculous and way out in left field, but I do feel it makes a pretty clear point.  When you are triggered, you do not think rationally, and that is completely understandable.  I am not trying to shame your gut reaction.  What I am hoping to accomplish here, is that you take a step back, perhaps remember this crazy illustration and maybe, take pause, to remember that censorship will not in fact heal you.  It will not make you feel better in the long term, and it is selfish to try and impose your will on other people, especially when you have become overcome with emotion.  Hiding behind the word triggered is just that, hiding.  If you need to hide for a while for your own mental well being, then please, do what you need to.  But know, imposing your pain on others does not make you a do-gooder… it makes you selfish.  There, I said it.  Sorry, not sorry!

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When You’re Separated by a Screen, Don’t Forget There is a Human on the Other End

Yesterday something happened while on a dating app that I never thought would happen.  I have tried to pretend that it didn’t bother or affect me, but I just cannot do it.  Yesterday I was brought face to face with what I have said for years, that there is in fact a human being on the other end of that screen and you never know what really is going on with them.  And we must never forget that, and must always do better to be ethical and kind when interacting with strangers.

As I said I was on a dating app yesterday and I was contacted by a man who opened with a fantastic line of flattery or so I thought.  He said that he wished he was good enough to one day get with a woman as beautiful as me.  I responded right away, asking what he thought he needed to do to make that happen, and made a silly joke of responding in my dating coach voice as I typed.  He said that he needed to win the lottery to become attractive due to his short comings.  I laughed and said money wasn’t everything.  Obviously, he had been down this road before and said, because he was only 5’5” that no woman would ever find him attractive without money.  I brushed this off and said that as a dating coach maybe I could help him with his confidence if we wanted.  And if you have made it this far in the little back and forth between us, here’s the kicker.  And I quote, “I am just here killing time, before I kill myself because no woman will ever date me”.

I was positively floored.  In fact, I still am.  I am sad to say, my gut reaction was that he was using this as a ploy to get my attention.  But after a few minutes, my compassion and brain went into overdrive.  If there was even the slightest chance that he was serious I needed to do something.  But what could I do?  For all intents and purposes, online dating in anonymous.  I would have to do some incredibly serious sleuthing to find out even the slightest additional information about a person in the real world, and that would only be possible if we had chatted for more than 10 minutes.  I had nothing to go on.  So here’s how I reacted.  I wrote him a message saying that I wanted him to seek professional help immediately.  Then I copy and pasted the message and reported it to the app under other in the hopes that someone would have a data base of his information when he signed up.  I then wrote back to him the 1-800 number for suicide hotline.  To which he responded that he wouldn’t do anything drastic as long as his pets were alive, as they were his reason for living.  I implored with him one last time to seek help and then just like that, his profile was gone.

As I sit here typing away, I am reminded of one simple fact, the online world often removes the humanity in us.  We need to fight that urge and remind ourselves that there is a human being on the other end.  I didn’t accept what had happened right away and was in a horrible mood for the rest of the afternoon.  In fact, I was outright rude and argumentative to a stranger online who just wanted to meet me.  I pushed him until he said something silly, and goaded him into a fight.  I feel awful for doing that.  And I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  When you interact with someone online,remember you are not talking to a bot, even Siri was voiced by a real human.  Why?  Because shit flows downhill, especially in the virtual world.

So be cognitive, be aware, be kind!  Do not put your crap on a stranger, as I did.  And do not ignore the pain of someone reaching out as I was tempted to do.  Live as ethically online as you do in the real world.  Let’s make the experience better and more human for everyone.

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Just live… Quest for Happiness

I am currently reading an interesting book which poses a debate between Freud, and CS Lewis about various subjects stemming from their opposing views on theology, called “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex and the Meaning of Life” by Armand M. Nicholi.  It’s interesting to read on how our views on religion seem to affect how we view happiness as well.  As I wrote about in my previous post, Just Live, the idea of living for yourself and being the beacon of your own happiness is instrumental.  It was really interesting to read about two intelligent individuals in our recent history having this posed debate.  I know that I will look back on my lifetime, especially in the last few years and be proud of the actions I took which resulted in attaining my current happiness level.  I will not have to include anyone else in attribute of that achievement.  This is what drives me to get up every morning, responsibility and complete control of my own self fulfillment. 

Of course we are all individuals and what works for me will not necessarily work for the next man down or even what worked for me in the past.  I have mentioned my previous believe in God and I will admit that I did find a comfort in achieving a lifestyle for him.  I worked diligently to try and follow the teachings of the bible and put my trust in a higher and seemingly more educated power.  The entity that knew inherently what was right and wrong.  In my early teenage years this was a guiding light in a very chaotic time for me.  Slowly though I discovered something about myself, and that was I felt the same sense of well being when I began to internalize my prayers.  When I started putting faith in myself and what I could and couldn’t accomplish I felt a real wholeness, and a more complete me. 

I very slowly recognized that I was blaming God for my shortcomings and praising myself for my achievements.  When this became apparent I realized that it had to be all or nothing, rationally I needed to accept God in my corner for good and bad as a Christian.  And selfishly I realized that I couldn’t do this.  I was the one living, and making choices, so I needed to accept the good and bad in me.  I could not use an alternate force in times of trouble.  I realized that, I was a strong individual and could attain peace and comfort in my own actions.  I didn’t need the navigational principles of religious teachings to be a good and sound human, it was inside me.  And further I grew to believe that our human race would not have evolved to where it is today if this basic and fundamental rational human being did not exist in almost all of us.  Of course there are always exceptions and variations which allow for cruelty and disgusting examples of humans and their behaviour, as evidenced by many of the genocides and corruption in our world.  This is an evolutionary variant and I do not attribute to any faith or lack of faith meme.
This is my journey of my self-discovery, and why I confidently say that I am the source of my own happiness.  When life is stressful or I am in the pitfall of an emotional roller coaster, it is up to me to attain happiness.  It is my choice to stay in a level of poor me, or to find a way to get out of it.  I have chosen to seek professional help when I was not able to get out of a depressed state on my own.  So I will always recognize that there are situations that we are not always able to find solutions to ourselves.  Be it a simple girls night for emotional team building, or therapy and possibly anti-depressants or mood stabilizers with a doctors strict care.
I have a very brave friend who recently posted on facebook a status regarding making mental health as open as physical health.  I couldn’t agree more, as it is with acknowledgement and openness that we are able to fix the symptoms and provide treatment versus putting our health and welfare into invisible beings and faith only. Happiness is attainable, and more than that, it should not be an end goal or a prize for life’s hard work and achievements.  Happiness should be a daily and even hourly reflection of all that we do in life.  A smile every day is the simplest thing we can do.  It’s your life, so live the best way you can, find the happiness inside and out.