You Do You

Something happened to me on Twitter last week that really pissed me off.

Social media in general is great – you get to share your thoughts with the world, connect with friends and family, and meet new people. All plusses, right?

Unfortunately, social media also makes you vulnerable to censure, negative reactions, and general troll-like behavior.

It sets up your thoughts and opinions – as harmless as some of them may seem – to be torn to shreds by people you barely know.

And that sucks.

Last week, I tweeted about how I think Emma Watson is one of the greatest women of my generation.

Some random Twitter follower of mine decided react condescendingly. Why? I have no idea. Probably because he had nothing better to do.

I felt uncultured and small and ANGRY for about 10 minutes.

Then I laughed at myself.

That guy doesn’t know me. He doesn’t understand my values, my sense of humor or my life story.

And you know what? I don’t have to validate my feelings or opinions to anyone, let alone someone who I’ve only exchanged a few sentences with online.

Emma Watson is an incredible woman. She’s much more than an actress of the greatest movie franchise of my generation. She’s also a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. At 25 years old. She dedicates her time to meeting other amazing young women, like Malala Yousafzai, and advocates for women’s rights all over the world. She’s bright and humble; she’s making a big, lasting impact for girls everywhere.

It takes all kinds of inspirational young women to make this world wonderful, but I believe Emma Watson is one of them. And I don’t need to defend my opinion. I certainly shouldn’t feel inclined or bullied into apologizing for or retracting it.

So many people think that others’ online opinions are open for debate. Or worse  – they think others’ opinions are open for ridicule, scorn and abuse.

They’re not.

If people want to hide behind their computers and make assumptions about your 140-character opinions, that’s on them. You don’t have to justify what you believe or think.

You can choose to ignore them.

You are allowed to share your opinions online without having to defend them. You’re certainly entitled to sharing them without being vilified or made fun of for them.

So next time you feel the urge to tweet that Nickelback is in fact an awesome band or that Jar Jar Binks is the greatest Star Wars character ever, go for it. You have that right. You do you.

4 Comments
  • Brian Sirimaturos
    November 12, 2015

    Great post Allison! Thanks for sharing. The Mizzou incident had me thinking about exactly what you are writing here. I appreciate you opening the dialogue and hosting a discussion.

    First, Emma Watson is fantastic role model from what I know about her, and I love her!!! Is she perfect? I have no idea but I’d like to think so LOL. She has been a great voice for women and young girls and is someone I think that has found a vehicle to promote certain topics that would otherwise not be talked about with her fame. Plus, Wingardium Levios-AA

    Re: Mizzou situation in general. Yet another situation I dipped my toes in via social media and then just sort of retreated back into more reading than writing. I did respond to one person in the media that has a connection with my wife about something they said – but I did it with what I thought was humor, and I think their initial reply didn’t quite understand where I was coming from. They deleted their response to me and then sent me an apology via DM which in the end, it’s all good.

    I’ve told you before – I think – that there are a few people online via social media that I do wonder what they think about certain issues. You are one of them. Due to keeping most of your juicy thoughts to yourself anyway, I’m left to speculate, but I think most of the time we are usually on the same page. That’s cool. But, I’d also hate to think the people I search out for on social media are ones that I have to agree with 100%. I don’t. But I do like finding out what well read, calm and open to dialogue people think. Even if different from me. For example, I’d love to hear what the “Greedo shot first or at the same time” people think, or why Ep I-III are the best of the 6 Star Wars films…

    …which leads me to discussing your comment…

    “So many people think that others’ online opinions are open for debate. Or worse – they think others’ opinions are open for ridicule, scorn and abuse.”

    Here’s one where we may look at this differently. I actually come from the idea that anybody’s opinions, thoughts, beliefs are open for ridicule, scorn (but I probably won’t say abuse). Especially if they post it online. Everyone has the right to say what they want…but also to receive praise or criticism for what they said. I love you said you can “ignore” people also and that you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. Totally agree.

    I think it all comes down to intent. If someone says something of their opinion that I don’t agree with…what was their intent. If their intent was this is how everyone should think or do, then I’ll go at them a bit harder, funnier if I feel feisty enough or have had enough coffee for the morning. If they express an opinion that…what they said is simply how they think, feel, but that it’s just for them…I may just be funny or open dialogue if it is something I”m interested in also, but may have a differing opinion.

    Now do I adhere to this 100% of the time? Nope. I have weak moments. Especially online. But I’m getting better. I totally fight myself in wanting to post something ie Mizzou, lets say, and I hold off…and the next day I may say, yeah I’m glad I didn’t post it. Not that I changed my mind on my thoughts/opinions (and I may have) but that with 140 characters with people that don’t know me well, may not understand my intent.

    So for people that don’t like Emma Watson (which I’m assuming the person was just wanting to spar with you and that was an opening) or that like Jar Jar and Episode I-III or whatever…meh. I think it’s funnier to let them have at it.

    #InJJWeTrust

    • Allison
      November 12, 2015

      Hey Brian! I love how you always read my posts, mull them over, and then open a dialogue. You’re awesome! I struggled with writing this post and articulating my thoughts, because of a few points you touched on.

      A few thoughts I’d like to string together:
      1. Everyone can say whatever they’d like online. Unless it’s against the law, such as threatening language or straight up harassment.
      2. People who share their opinions online should understand they’re putting their thoughts out into a public forum. Even if you delete something later, once it’s online, I think everyone should consider that public for life. Screenshots are a frenemy and two seconds away at all times.
      3. The more hot-button the topic is, the more wary everyone should be about sharing their opinions. Emotions make people irrational. I channel my inner Spock online as often as possible.
      4. Regardless of what you put online, everyone has the right to ignore others’ responses. I was frustrated, because it’s not like I was commenting on anything political or touching on a major social issue. I was expressing my hero worship for an incredible woman. A rude response to that kind of opinion doesn’t warrant a counter response in my book.
      5. More importantly, even if I can’t ignore online condescension and negative responses, I should also understand that my online persona is not who I am. And with that understanding comes the constant reminder that my followers are not always my friends. They don’t really know me. No matter how transparent I am online (and I really do strive to be authentic), there’s difference between my public online self and my IRL self.

      The Mizzou topic has ignited many fires in my personal world, and, like everyone else, I definitely have an opinion. A very multi-faceted opinion too. But as I hint at in #s 2 and 3 above, I’d rather discuss the issue in person. 140 characters is hardly enough room to express my thoughts on the matter.

      And to your last point – everyone has moments of weakness. But I’d rather be a person who strives to be positive, peaceful and respectful online, even when my newsfeeds aren’t. The Internet can be a hateful and hurtful place, and I don’t want to contribute to that kind of dialogue.

  • Stacie Kneip
    November 12, 2015

    People should be able to state their opinions. But no one needs to be rude about it. I know exactly what you mean and you are one of the most kind- hearted, and intelligent people I know so when you respond to a post or tweet I know your comment will not be one of ignorance, hate, or just because you had a bad day. You honestly express your thoughts in a mature, respectful manner. I quit reading things that bothered me because I was tired of the negativity certain posts had circulating it. I feel that people who don’t know how comment, should reflect before they type and know that the people reading their comment have feelings as well, and if you can’t write without being nasty perhaps they need counseling. I think Emma Watson is a beautiful person as well and wonderful role model as to they type of person many young girls need to look up to.

    • Allison
      November 12, 2015

      Stacie, I swear every time I talk with you, you make me feel like a million bucks. Thank you for the incredibly kind and warm words. I think you’re awesome too. 🙂

      I end muting or “unfollowing” a lot of people on Facebook due to negativity too, but this also robs me of their positive public moments too. And that makes me sad.

      Disagreements online are, of course, a reality, but it’s difficult to really listen to people when a debate is bookmarked with ugly, hateful remarks. It also leaves me puzzled and a little wounded when someone reacts so negatively to such a harmless opinion. Haha.

      Thanks again for being such a faithful reader, Stacie! You’re the best!

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