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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Real Talk: Educate, Don't Berate

Trust me, your eyes aren't deceiving you - this is 100% an actual Real Talk coming at you. I know, it's been a while since I published one and there wasn't many posted back in 2018, but I guess I didn't have any topics in mind that I felt passionate enough about to share. But that's certainly changed recently and today I just want to throw my two cents in on the topic of social media/the general internet not always being the nicest of places when it comes to embracing people's personalities, interests, and opinions. I am sure I'm not the only one who has shared their opinion on something - whether that be something really mundane, trivial, controversial etc. - online and felt a backlash from others condemning whatever I said, getting heated because they don't agree, or just simply being rude as fuck (for lack of a better phrase) and bringing any other aspect about you into play to criticise you further such as your appearance, sexuality, your gender... you know the sort of thing I'm talking about.

I've always been someone who sees the world online as a positive because it can be an outlet for so many great things. People can be creative, talents can be discovered, hobbies can be explored, communities can be created, and relationships/friendships can be forged and nurtured. Something that seems to be an increasingly negative side of it all though is the attitude many people have towards others. It's not something new - online trolling and cyberbullying etc. has always been present, but it seems to be especially prevalent nowadays as if we've all become so desensitised, we can't seem to link an account to actual person behind the screen. This is where we all royally fuck up as an intelligent species.

Holding people accountable for what they say is absolutely something we should always practice. It's important that everyone is aware of their words and actions and how they can come across to others and affect the environment and those around them but, it's equally as important to consider where those words or actions have come from and to not meet them with negativity. All too often the sort of confrontation I'm talking about seems to be more concerned with personal attack rather than picking apart the opinion or statement shared in any sort of constructive manner and I honestly find it nothing short of bullying behaviour. I am 100% behind folk sharing whatever the hell they please, so long as it's considered because there's a number of things I think we all need reminding of when it comes to wanting to send some sassy tweet or DM in response to a comment we've seen that we don't enjoy or agree with:

Not everyone has the same upbringing. One thing that I think is *vital* to always keep in mind is that every individual has not had the same history, upbringing, education or experiences. Every single one of us could have a shared experience but feel completely differently towards it, how we shape the memory of it, what lessons we take away from it... It can all be so very different. I think this is often something that is overlooked even in the smallest of ways. For example, I'm fiercely proud of coming from my very working class background and growing up for the majority of my childhood/teen years in council housing because I have learnt *so* much and it has shaped who I am, but it has also meant that some small, seemingly insignificant things, such as knowing how to pronounce "quinoa" becomes something to be mocked for. Try and tell me which family in a council street has fucking quinoa for tea. Aye, exactly. So when you're feeling quick to mock another for their grammar, their limited vocabulary, or their limited knowledge of pronunciation, just take a second or two to really ask yourself if it matters, or if you could just help them along by letting them know the right way to say something. Being nice isn't hard.

Not everyone has the same perspectives or perceptions. Just as I said earlier, not everyone experiences things the same way, but also all of us will never tackle things in the same way either. One piece of art might be the most beautiful, emotion-inducing thing for one person but might be literal shit for another. We all enjoy different music, food, drink, sports, holidays, social groups, events - everything is different and variety is good! Not only is there variety within things like this, but even in the way we perceive those things. It can come down simply to things such as someone being more introverted or extroverted, more pessimistic or optimistic, or it can just be a case of seeking out different sorts of enjoyment in the same activity or pastime. I have friends who enjoy the same music for me but for entirely different reasons. I tend to like a good beat but *love* a clever lyric all the more whilst they find joy in actually listening to the specific beat of the drums and the emotion that that can flare up in you. Take joy in the fact that we are all so different and can draw so much out of even the simplest things in life.

People are constantly improving themselves and growing - encourage it! If I thought about some of my actions or attitudes from 10 years ago, I just know I'd cringe and think it was those of a complete stranger. We are always growing and changing as we experience more in life and learn and we should always bear in mind that people are more than allowed to change. My personal style has changed. My interests have changed. Even my taste in food has changed. No one should be pigeon-holed to stay a certain way because it's what you have come to expect from them or it fits your agenda - let people grow and become unruly and change direction and watch them flourish and most importantly, support it.

If you see something you believe to be fundamentally wrong, challenge it. But not the individual. This is linking back to something I said earlier that seems to happen all too often and rather than people challenging the statement or opinion, they jump on the individual behind it and turn it into a personal attack. Although I will always say people have a right to freedom of speech and to their own opinion, we all know that some statements can be misguided, misinformed or worse. Let's think of the amount of times you've seen an opinion shared on terrorism and the Muslim religion for example and the person sharing a negative opinion says "because I read it in The Sun" - you know what I'm talking about. But the best thing to do in a situation like that is to challenge it, absolutely, but challenge the point. Challenge what has been said and provide a counter argument or information that can show fault with that opinion you're challenging. Linking back to the whole idea of us having different education, upbringing, views on life etc., aconsider and remember that there's room for an individual to change and grow. If you just shouted at your houseplants to "fucking grow you stupid feminist slut"; it's not going to do much growing is it? Water it, care for it, cut back dead leaves and you'll see them bloom. Just an idea.

Don't shoot down people for trying. Something that seems to be a *big thing* recently is shooting down people for trying to make positive changes and quite frankly, I get sick of seeing it happen. I see this a lot in the vegan, cruelty free, and sustainable communities most prominently and it just shouldn't be happening. Advocating growth and learning needs to happen at all stages of a process of change because no one can overhaul past mistakes or life choices overnight and nor should they. We're not super human and there's always going to be stumbles along the way to positive changes because life isn't linear. All of the cliché lines aside, someone only cutting out one type of meat is still making a positive change for themselves and the environment. Someone who accidentally buys a non-cruelty free beauty product because the brand wasn't clear on their ethics isn't the devil. Someone buying a fast fashion dress for a wedding because they can't afford or find something sustainable or ethically sourced doesn't mean they're a hypocrite. Every change should be celebrated and support is the best form of encouragement that will help someone carry on making their good changes in life that they want to make.

The past is the outdated version of someone. The last thing I want to touch on is this idea of dragging up the past. This seems to happen a lot for celebrities and influencers where tweets from when they were a teen are dragged up and berated. Don't get me wrong here - if there's some vile tweets showing racism, sexism, prejudice, violence etc. then of course, they should be challenged, just as I advocated earlier. However, you do need to think about when it was said. You do need to consider where that opinion may have stemmed from and why it may have been encouraged. Everyone should be accountable, particularly in this contemporary world where we air everything and sometimes forget to vet and check ourselves first but, sincerity in apologies and acknowledgements of past mistakes with evidence of making positive changes and alterations to outdated or negative views should again, be encouraged. Build each other up.

I know that was a long ol' waffle on my part, but I just feel so strongly about this because I see many individuals voice that they're legitimately scared to share their opinion online in fear of the backlash and surely that just sucks the fun out of life and out of what makes being a human being so interesting? How can we discuss and enjoy anything if we don't confidently share our thoughts and feelings on even something as small as which flavour crisps we like or if we enjoyed a new show on Netflix? If you ever feel feverishly annoyed with something someone has said, take a moment to shape what you want to say in response. Don't turn nasty. Don't turn it personal. Also take time to truly appreciate what the comment/statement is getting at. This of course isn't always clear, but if someone is saying "I don't like this film" that's not them saying anything about the individuals acting in it. Don't read between the lines if there's no cause to otherwise you're creating something out of nothing. Let's just all get along and help each other out, yeah?

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