Monday, June 29, 2015

Can We All Try To Be A Little More Humane On Social Media? Check Yourself...Don't Wreck Yourself! (Or Anyone Else)

Oh people. What in the hell is going on in the social media world these days?! Maybe it has been going on for longer than I imagined, but it seems like I have read a lot of crap on social media lately--and I'm becoming very disenchanted with it.

Remember the good ol' days when you thought somebody was a total asshole, and you either had to walk right up to them and let them know how much you thought about them right to their face, whisper it under your breath, or not say anything at all for fear of retaliation and because you're a total wuss? 

Well guess what? Now you can fly incognito under the radar with cute and clever made-up names on social media, and literally bash the ever-loving snot out of anyone and everyone on a regular basis! You don't even have to know them! You can just cyber stalk them (cuz that's not creepy)!!! So fun, right?!? I mean, really--let's bash on people for EVERYTHING! It's our right! We had a legitimate email address to sign up for a social media account! And we're American, so we can say whatever we want, RIGHT??? (Ugh)

In the spirit of letting things fly willy-nilly on social media, I've decided to start my list of potential social media targets for my future of entitled, unfiltered, commenting rage (I'm being sarcastic, BTW):

I'm going to start bashing the following:

**Any girl who looks beautiful, is more popular than I am, surfs better than I do, or can pull off a bikini better than I can (cuz really--it's all about me). I'm going to say something on Instagram like, "Wow, getting a little cellulite on the back of those thighs, Gisele Bundchen!! If I were you I would go puke up that teaspoon of cottage cheese you ate today." Clearly, if I can make her feel bad about herself, it makes me feel more beautiful, right??? (I know it doesn't. Shut up. Keep reading.)

**Any far right Republicans (you guys drive me nuts)

**Any far left Democrats (you guys drive me nuts, too)

**Any fanatical Christians (you know...the ones who came up out of the holy water with guns-a-blazin', a do-right stick, and are of the bible-thumping persuasion. CAN'T STAND THEM. I'm going to tell them all they are going to hell. Just kidding. No, really...I was.)

**Anything to do with essential oils, Jamberry Nails, or trying to sell me the latest protein shake that will make me 20 lbs lighter in 2 days. (I can't wear nail polish at work, I don't want to smell like a dirty hippie wearing patchouli, and I would rather go on a water and Ex-Lax diet than chug down some protein shake that tastes like a dog turd smells. I hate it when people use personal social media to sell things. I still like my friends, I just don't need them to sound like they work at a used car lot in their status on a daily basis.)

**Anyone trying to sway my vote with a political Facebook post (BTW--you will almost never see me on FB during an election year--I don't want to deal with any of the garbage, and I have also threatened to unfriend anyone who goes nuts with political postings. I could care less who you vote for, or what your care about politically. I have my own feelings about things, and I'm not afraid to express them in the voting booth independent of your daily rants on Facebook.)

These are just a few things that drive me batshit crazy about social media. But these are things that are more mildly annoying than where I am about to take this blog. Ahem...

What is the matter with us on social media, people? When did we get so mean, and be able to distance ourselves from the fact that REAL PEOPLE are receiving, processing, and internalizing the things that we write?

I was sent over the edge with anger this week after Bristol Palin revealed on social media that she was pregnant with her second child out of wedlock. This girl might as well have painted a target on her, and walked in front of a firing squad. Some of you may have heard some of the backlash and controversy, but I followed it pretty closely. Is it because I voted for McCain and Palin? No. Is it because I live right up the street from this girl in Wasilla, Alaska? No. Is it because I have nothing better to do? Hell-To-The-No. I have a ton of crap I should be doing besides blogging about a pregnant girl in Wasilla. However, there is one reason I am doing this--to vent about how horrible the social media world has become, and to show my support for this single mother--a cause that is very dear to me. You ever want to see my head explode, heckle a single mom. 

As some of you are aware, I became pretty fired up over the past 48+ hours since the release of information that Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential Candidate, Sarah Palin, announced she is pregnant with her second "illegitimate" child (whatever the hell that means anyway). You may think it is ridiculous to get up in arms over a situation that I am not remotely directly involved in, but as small as my voice is, I will shout it loudly that

"But Whitney, how is that possible? You have bashed far-right conservatives, gotten upset about trying to throw church and state in the same mixing bowl, and basically told us that you are a fence-sitter who will vote for whatever you feel is "right"." How can you support this girl who preaches abstinence as an 18 year-old single mother, and finds herself knocked up with baby number two, without a husband, six years later?"

I'm glad you asked. So I will tell you.

Some of you saw that link that I posted on my Facebook page--the original blog that Bristol posted about her pregnancy. As I read the title, I actually took a deep breath in, and could feel a change in my heartbeat. I knew what was coming next. She was going to say she was pregnant. Why? How did I know before I read anything? Because I've been in that place. I remember having to have this conversation with my parents--not only once, but TWICE. It feels like an impending myocardial infarction--the feeling of impending doom right before you have a massive heart attack. It's very real, and I know this girl probably felt it about 10,000,000X more than I did being in the public eye. It's times like these that I'm grateful that People Magazine isn't beating on my door for answers, and that nobody really knows my name (I'm like the opposite of Norm on Cheers).

In 2008, John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential Candidate. Prior to that, Sarah Palin was living a fairly quiet life in Wasilla, Alaska. However, when the Republican party saw that Hilary Clinton was receiving a ton of the female voter support during the running, the conservatives pulled Sarah Palin into the picture to sway the female vote on the republican side. Some thought it was brilliant. However, even Palin herself was shocked at the nomination. Here you have a woman who has dealt with rural and small metropolitan politics, and then thrust into the position of running to be the Vice President of the United States of America. Oh, and did I mention she's also a full-time mother to 5 children? I can only imagine the reconfiguration her life had to take at that time.

At that time, Bristol Palin was a teen young woman, pregnant with her first child. I truly believe that because of being thrust into the spotlight of the far-right conservatives, marriage promotion for the teen pregnancy was the only ticket for her at that time (nothing like having to marry someone just because you are pregnant with their child, and it is "expected" because of the general consensus of your political party affiliation--talk about an arranged marriage).

So let's tally some of this:
**Hockey mom from Wasilla, Alaska suddenly thrust into National spotlight for government
**Teen daughter already pregnant out of wedlock
**Mother of 5 children, including a special needs baby, now running for Vice President of the United States of America.

I am not implying that there is ineptitude for adjusting to a national platform from a state platform in politics. However, I would venture to guess that even Sarah Palin herself was blindsided with the Vice Presidential Nomination. And she already had a lot on her plate to boot...

So back to Bristol. This heart goes out to her. Why? Here ya go...

So imagine yourself a pregnant, scared teen (I know it's hard for you boys/men who lack a uterus). Mom becomes Vice Presidential Candidate. You're barely even ready to come out to your BFFs that you are pregnant, young, and out of wedlock...let alone the entire country. But you have to. So you go on TV. Your hair looks nice. You sport the latest conservative fashion for pregnant women. You hold hands with the father of your baby, and your mom tells everyone on stage that you're going to "make it legit". 

So what's the problem? Real life is the problem. What they created was an image for candidacy that their daughter could not, and did not aspire to live up to. Sometimes "what is right" is not what is right for your life--and I admire Bristol Palin for having a lack of follow through after all of conservative America decided that she needed to be married to the father of her child.

Here's where I get selfish and interject part of my story.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I cried. I was freaking out. I was a teen girl--and I was scared. I told the father of my baby. I had not known him long. He asked when we were going to get married. At first, I thought I had to marry him. That was what you have to do, right?  But I couldn't do it. I couldn't justify committing to a relationship because of a pregnancy. Not that he isn't an AWESOME guy. I have a great relationship with him, and I am so happy we share a beautiful daughter together, but I can't imagine a pregnancy being the foundation of a marriage, and it is rarely the foundation of a strong marriage.

In the same way, I'm glad Bristol didn't marry for her babies. And I think she'll be a stronger woman for it. There is a great sense of rebellious relief that comes with not doing what other people tell you you should/have to do. It's called empowerment. Since we are the ones who have to endure the ridicule, and carry the load, we should be empowered to know that we are still driving the boat for our lives. The main goal as captain is to ensure that it does not become submarine for our lives (much to the chagrin of those who would like to watch us struggle and sink--and those miserable hecklers are in great abundance).

So here comes the good stuff. The reason why I'm pissed. The advocacy that I have for women who have the audacity to get knocked up and carry their babies while the public judges them and calls them whores (because unfortunately, a lot of you do).

I follow Bristol Palin on Instagram. I enjoy seeing the photos of her son, and Alaska. Hell, I live 5 minutes away from her, and her mom and dad in Wasilla, Alaska. I didn't grow up here. I have no "ties" to Wasilla. I don't "party with the locals". And I don't know the Palins. I am here for work, and although Alaska is nice, I struggle with the lifestyle here, and try to understand it more than I make fun of it (sometimes). I digress...

When Bristol was first thrust into the public spotlight as a pregnant teen, I felt sorry for her. Not because she "did it the wrong way" but "because I've been there"--and there is nothing glamorous about it. I don't care how much you want to spin it as an amazing thing or a "blessing". When you're a single parent--it will scare the shit out of you. And frustrate you. And kick your ass.

This week I became even more keenly aware of the fucked up society we are living in. I watched this woman post her baby news on Instagram and Facebook in a very humble fashion. And I watched the literary "unleashing of the beast" that followed. It made me sick. Social media is about 25% awesome, and about 75% a disgrace.

So, what do we really know about this girl?...

Bristol Palin's Job(s):

This is a girl who is a blogger for Patheos. I follow it. I don't know the ins and outs of it. I am a follower, not a stalker. She posts a lot of special interest blogs. Blogs on more conservative things. Blogs on more religious things ( I think the blog is actually backed by a religious group--not sure). That is her job. It is how she gets paid, and supports her family. She also works at a doctor's office in Wasilla, Alaska.

After her pregnancy at the age of 18, she took over the roll of promoting abstinence and safe sex as a means of avoiding teen pregnancy (as much "safe sex" talk as what was allowed by the conservative far-rights anyway...God knows if we talk about safe sex, then we are condoning it, right??? *sarcasm*) . She did this through public speaking (public service announcements, public speaking venues, etc).

She got paid for this (most public speakers do). Not sure why she took on that role, and I'm suspicious she was more strategically "placed" into that role because of the McCain/Palin candidacy, and due to being in the public eye at that time. However, depending on the subject matter, it's hard to practice and preach the same thing--which is why I try not to preach too much. I keep my relationship with God as "non-preachy" as possible because I am very aware of my human side, and that of others. But now the public is outraged because they think she is a "whore that talks out of both sides of her mouth". Their words--not mine.

Because this girl has been paid to preach teen pregnancy prevention (like 6 years ago, she was 18 and 19 at the time), she is being hammered by the public for being a single expectant mother (again).

I think the thing that bothered me the most was watching her get kicked while she is already down. Hell, the girl was engaged and ready to walk down the aisle a month ago. I'm sure this is a lot to process for her, not to mention she is probably mourning the loss of her relationship at the same time (not that I pretend to know anything about the details of that, nor do I need to).

So now that we live in a day and age where we can just let things fly out of our mouths, and onto our social media pages without a care, here are some of my favorite (*gag*hack*splutter*) post-baby announcement Bristol bashings on social media:

**crabbycripple81 says: "I'm praying for a miscarriage."

**tracyboutges says: " Hypocrite! I hope you feel embarrassed! You have been so judgmental in the past. I have to say I got a kick out of this cause it makes you look like a fool!"

**23ssmagnolia said: "Do you know how to use condoms? Shouldn't the baby daddy be marrying you to promote this conservative family your mom has paid to promote?"

**googie2311 says: "I see someone's been up to deleting some negative comments this morning,"

**pink_evolution says: "You lying whore!"(and then went on in numerous posts to fight with Piper Palin--who is 13. This woman then made her profile private due to backlash, and continued to stalk every post Bristol made for days, calling her a whore, and antagonizing everyone on there in every way possible...a real gem!)

**doctor_fever: "The only thing wider than your mother's mouth, is your legs." (to which I wanted to reply, "The only thing smaller than a Mike-And-Ike, is your penis."

**aedenandaedrian: "Abstinence anonymous called, you breached your contract and they want their $262K back. Should've closed your legs."

**reno_keoni: "You put on this stupid "I'm pregnant" announcement and now you tryin' to act like the vicitim when it backlashes on you. Girl, bye. Keep your dumb ass in Alaska. You're an idiot, truly. And for anyone saying "why am I following her if I hate her?" I'm not. I just felt like I wanted to go out of my way unnecessarily to look her up as a waste of time--just like she wasted her time when she announced her second pregnancy." 

And multiple people suggested that this was a great argument for abortion, and that she should kill her baby. (Bravo, America!)

WTF?!!! We treat people like they are sub-human. We lash out. It's like we all have Tourette Syndrome, and lack a filter. Most of the people we hate on--WE DON'T EVEN KNOW!!! And then to start slinging hatred at a pregnant women?,,,WOW. Impressive. Not in that they are balls-y enough to sling it, but in that they're such a total Sally for slinging it in the first place.

I've been pregnant twice out of wedlock. Not proud of it--but it happens. I am a labor and delivery nurse. I chose my roll in my career because of  what I had been through as a patient, and wanted to help women/teens/and tweens through it.  I take patient histories. I know how many times they have been pregnant, how many times they have miscarried, and how many times they have aborted intentionally. It is hard to sit there and take a history on someone who has aborted 15 times, and now this baby is "the lucky one".

Have we really become that society? And then we sling mud at those who would actually carry a baby--wed or unwed? Meanwhile, we're encouraging the filling up of the dumpsters behind Planned Parenthood as a means to avoid inconvenient pregnancies? I don't get it.

I'm not trying to start a war about abortion here, but I will always support a woman through her pregnancy, and at the very least, we should be that respectful of ALL pregnant women as a society as well. Stress can lead to a rocky pregnancy, an early delivery, and an unhealthy or non-viable baby. Be careful with them! Let them create a person without putting in your two cents worth about it! They have enough going on without having to listen to your opinion about their life! I get super fired up about stressing out pregnant women--I see the ill-effects of it all the time in labor and delivery and OB Triage, and spent a fair amount of time in the hospital with my first two pregnancies due to stress!

I'm reminded of the toast that Ike (Richard Gere) made to Maggie's (Julia Roberts) family in the movie "Runaway Bride". He was mocking them for always making fun of her for running away from her potential grooms at the alter. It goes as follows:

"May you find yourselves the bullseye of an easy target, may you be publicly flogged for all your bad choices, and may your nose be rubbed in all of your mistakes."

Amen, Ike. A toast! all you who can't control your comments on social media.

Until you have been in the position of a single mother, you cannot possibly understand the magnitude and hurt of the external judgement that comes along with that "scarlet letter" that is your pregnancy. Our society takes it, and runs with it. Stop calling the women "whores" who get pregnant, and high-fiving the men who knock them up. This is 2015. Ejaculation doesn't make you a man--it makes a mess. It also doesn't make you a manly man. Any idiot male can impregnate a woman. I see it all the time at my job.

Long story short--BE KIND TO OTHERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA!!!! You don't know the shoes that person is walking in, and (I feel like we're in kindergarten here, but it's a good reminder), YOU CAN EITHER USE YOUR WORDS TO BUILD SOMEONE UP, OR TEAR THEM DOWN. What kind of a person do you aspire to be? Just say NO to being an ass on social media!!

Let's clean it up, people. Let's think about what we say before we say it, and the implications it might have on someone's life. Let's be advocates for responsible use of social media so that we can be examples to others. Time to step up and be leaders--not followers and stalkers of the garbage.

Have a blessed day.
(And Bristol Palin--congratulations on your adorable family addition)

#bristolpalin #bsmp2

PS This in NO WAY means that I agree with the far right politics of Bristol Palin, or her family. This is simply support for a pregnant woman, and that is all. My belief in the political views this family preaches is a whole other ball of wax.