Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on social media encouraging people to simply “scroll past” the posts they don’t like. This seems more than reasonable. What the friend who’s posting is trying to say is, you don’t have to react. You don’t have to let yourself be affected. Simply move past it. I like the idea, I really do. And I’m sure most people can do just that, ignore the craziness that is this world and scroll right past it. I wish I were one of those people.
I don’t want to label myself as “sensitive” because in general, in today’s society, that word conjures up images of whiny millennials and people who just aren’t strong enough to deal with the world around them. Although I’ve tried very hard, I can’t come up with another word to describe the way I’m seeing myself lately. I’m sensitive. I’m sensitive to the news stories and the online name calling and the political bullying and the hate speech. It doesn’t completely ruin my life to see these things things daily. I still function. But I have to tell you, I carry part of it around with me.
Growing up, I didn’t really have to encounter too many unkind folks. It was a small town and, in general, everybody looked out for one another. The way you perceive the world around you as a child sometimes has the tendency to stick with you even into adulthood. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve grown up. I’ve lived in urban areas. I’ve gotten to meet and mingle with all different types of people from all different backgrounds. And almost every one of them was respectful and added some sort of substance to my life.
However, as time has gone on and I’ve left the very “Mayberry” town I grew up in, I’ve had an epiphany. And it’s not a good one. See, I used to firmly believe that there was more good in the world than bad. To be fair, I also believed in Santa and the tooth fairy. Still, it didn’t seem far fetched to believe that as a whole, human beings want to be kind and fair and respectful to one another. And now the cynical adult version of me is thinking, HA! Are you kidding me? Have you seen the news, read the social media posts, and listened to the politicians’ speeches? It’s becoming clear that I’m losing my faith in humanity. That’s cliche to say, I know, but I can’t come up with a better way to sum up my feelings.
Tonight, I very respectfully shared an opinion on a news story by commenting on the story link. (I know … And there’s where I went wrong.) A few people commented back with differing opinions. Okay, great. I’m more than willing to keep an open mind and listen. And you know what? Some of them made good points. Still, some just attacked. They ranted about how idiotic my viewpoint was and one called me an “ignorant cow”. So, that’s fun. These are adults. Grown ups who could even be parents or doctors or police officers or teachers or members of a number of other very respected professions. Guys, maybe I’m just being sensitive (there it is again), but this is scary.
As I’ve mentioned before, I, like a bazillion other people on this planet (not going to worry about citing that numeric statistic), deal with the occasional bout of depression and/or anxiety. There are a lot of us out there, you know. We’re all just trying to keep ourselves together and make sure our emotions are kept at an even-keeled, calm level. Or at least we’re trying really hard to make it look like we’re even keeled. Inside we’re probably fighting off worries some people would never dream of and dragging ourselves out of bed every day. But I digress …
Is this really a shock to anyone? Every single day there are people in this world who are actively seeking other human beings out and ending their lives. People are taking other people out of this world. Forever. They’re stealing them away from spouses and kids and parents and loved ones and futures. Regardless of where you stand on the gun issue, I think we can all agree that watching and reading stories about new shootings every single day is bothersome. Actually, I don’t know if we can all agree on that anymore. I don’t feel like I know this country and this world as well as I thought I did. There are more than likely sickos out there who take great joy in watching the news coverage of death, death, and more death. But it makes me feel ill.
I’ve heard people say that this sort of violence has always gone on in the world, but with advances in technology, namely the internet, we now have the pleasure of hearing about them all, all the time. We now get to physically see, with our own eyes, the words bullies and internet trolls type and then post for all the world to see. In short, we get to see all the negativity in a way that we maybe never could before. Before technology, we could live in our happy little bubbles and live a simple, content life, and then die, secure in the knowledge that the world really is a pretty wonderful place.
Those days are over, people. You can’t deny the horrible, horrible things that we do and say to each other because it’s right there in front of your face. It’s coming at you from all angles now. Want to check your Facebook? Bam. Here’s a story about sexual assault. Want to turn on the TV and just zone out for awhile? Sorry to break it to you, but the media is going to shove every terrible and terrifying event that happened today into our wheelhouse. You can’t escape it. It’s everywhere. The negativity is winning. No wonder we’re all either feeling so blue and down that we can’t function, or trying desperately to calm our minds because we can’t stop worrying that our kids won’t come home from school today or that someone could walk into our place of work and just take us out and end it all.
If I’m really trying to find a positive in all of the madness, it’s this: No one can pretend they don’t know anymore. No one can turn a blind eye to some of the retched things that are going on. Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” There’s no way around it. We know too much now to sit back and do nothing to help. It’s all out there.
Okay, so maybe I’m just having a low night where I’m feeling particularly negative about things. It happens, right? Does it happen to other people? I don’t know. Are you all really able to just scroll past things and move on with your day? It doesn’t stick with you, at least a little? It does for me. And it does for all of the sensitives of the world. And it’s a big burden to carry around, let me tell you.
Tomorrow, when my toddler wakes up, I’m going to take a deep breath, shove this all down, slap on a smile and go get her from her crib. I’m going to do what I do a lot these days. I’m going to pretend like I know that everything’s going to be okay. I’m not going to let her see the stress and the worry and the anxiety I’m feeling. I will hide the fact that I’m feeling … well, broken. Because the world is so, so, so broken. And it doesn’t have to be. And yet, there’s nothing I can do to fix it.
I’m going to have to always try to find something positive to tell her, a happy story of people helping others, although these stories may be hard to find. But when you come to this realization in life, and I believe we “sensitives” all will, this realization that the world is scary and all you can do is be kind, spread light and try to protect your loved ones with all you’ve got, you can’t let your kids know how negative you’ve become. Because we’re essentially handing this world off to the next generation. And we’re going to need the next generation to be a strong group of thinkers, helpers, and team players if we’re ever going to turn this all around. I’m sad that they will inherit so many burdens, but if we make sure they go into it with a positive attitude, maybe things can get better?
In the meantime, I think I’ll trim down my friends lists, unfollow some news sources and try to keep myself from seeing so much of it. Maybe it will help me, at least a little, feel less overwhelmed and helpless.