Friday, May 22, 2020

A Footnote

I’ve been mulling over this footnote to the story of the Board of Education candidate who withdrew from the race after numerous offensive social media posts came to light.

Out of the noise and internet frenzy came a plea from the candidate’s ex-wife, saying that she was being unfairly targeted for harassment. Her family and her business were being threatened. She was fearful that she could lose her livelihood. Her children were anxious.

Social media “dragging” is not for the faint of heart. It’s the mob and the pitchforks, even if you can’t see them in your front yard.

There’s just one odd thing about this particular case. The person in question was one of the people who participated in the online “dragging” of me and my family when I wrote about redisctricting. And when I wrote about that experience, she commented that, unless I revealed direct examples, it meant that I was merely saying these things to be divisive. Essentially, she called me a liar.

Perhaps it feels different when it happens to you.

I don’t wish that experience on anyone. It shakes you. It makes you feel less safe in your own community.

I suppose some might think this is my opportunity to return the favor and challenge this person to “prove” she has been harassed. That I should cast doubts on her story or suggest she’s just trying to “be divisive.” Turnabout is fair play, so they say.

Why would I do that? How would it help? Who on earth would take a cheap shot at someone who already feels demoralized? There’s no way I would stoop that low, especially since I know what it feels like.

There are a lot of things to be sad and angry and frustrated about right now. It is so easy to carried away in a group of likeminded friends. Tempers are high. Outlets for processing big emotions are low. We still need to draw a line somewhere in our social media interactions. We always have a choice, although it can be easy to ignore it.

Please keep an eye out for conversations that begin to cross the line. It can get way out of hand faster than you think.

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