I woke up this morning to a painful email about this post, one so painful that I have been weighing whether or not I should take this post down. Occasionally as a writer, I fail. My words are not received in the spirit which they were intended and cause pain to a reader. I live my life with a “do no harm rule” and when my words cause pain, I need to evaluate my intentions. The intent of this post is not to belittle or push anyone struggling with a mentally ill child into the closet, clearly this country needs some serious discussions on how we deal with mental illness as well as our culture of violence but my concern is timing on when that discussion happens. In the end, I have decided to let this post stand because I believe in speaking my truth and only hope that future readers understand my intent is not to hurt and ultimately yes, while it’s about you neither is it about me.
Let me start off by saying this isn’t a “dialogue.” No, kids…this is a rant, a vent, the babble of one very tired Black Girl in Maine who just made the holidays brighter for over 250 people. So give me a chance to just let my hair down, all three inches of it and say what I want to say in my personal space. Worse case, I lose a few readers. It’s okay, I only started off with two so if in the end I only have the original two, it’s okay. I figured out a while ago, that this space is not my ticket to fame and fortune.
It seems that in the days since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT at the Sandy Hook school, everyone wants to add their two cents. In some ways talking makes people feel better and generally I am all for people saying what they need to say, but let me just say, sometimes…it’s not about you. Let me repeat that, sometimes it is not about you!
This weekend this piece went viral, for those not inclined to click, the BGIM short version is that a mother with a mentally ill son wrote a piece entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” Really? I think he killed his mother and frankly while Adam Lanza probably was suffering from some type of deep psychological disturbances, we really don’t know. Investigators may need weeks if not months to figure out why this young man did what he did. However since he is dead, his mama is dead as well as twenty precious first graders and six brave adults, why don’t we let the investigators do their jobs, let these people bury their loved ones and hold off on assuming we know shit. Because we don’t.
Look I like to speculate and run off at the mouth as much as the next person, hell, why do you think I have over 60,000 tweets? I talk a lot. However there is a time and place and for all the pieces I have seen since late Friday with people using this tragic situation to discuss their personal lives and push their agenda, enough is enough.
Maybe it’s the fact that I have a few friends in my life who always take my shit and find a way to take my situation and bring it back to them, but frankly people who feel the need to make everything about them, drives me batty. It really does. Empathy doesn’t mean that every story, every tragedy needs to be personalized to you and your shit. Despite the fact that empathy exercises may have real value in a work setting, in real life they make you look like a narcissistic fool.
Sometimes to support people means to support them, not create scenarios based off unknowns or co-opting other people’s tragedy for our own gains. Some years ago when my mother was dying, I had a real life friend try to downplay my family’s misery and make it about her. Needless to say she is no longer in my life, I needed support not comparisons or someone to lessen my pain.
The internet in many ways is still the Wild West where the rules of polite society seem to go out the window. Yet this amazing technology has been in our lives long enough that really we need some rules and manners. I look at it this way, if you wouldn’t say that shit to a person sitting in the same room, don’t write it down. Really, trust me on this.
As online communicators, there is a huge tendency to latch onto whatever the current event is and personalize it then market it to our audience as part of our brand. However, sometimes, some shit is so big, that it needs to stand on its own. The recent happenings in Newtown is one such instance, it’s big, it’s bad. We need to have many discussions but let’s not confuse our personal baggage and issues as part of that discussion.