I’m exhausted, and it’s not just pandemics and world events. It’s my online presence as well, and it’s part of how being online can easily lead to being canceled, because you just can’t put up with it any longer.
It’s not necessarily something new. I’ve been at this now for almost 19 years, and I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has messaged me that I suck at this because I don’t offer support services, (I’m not trained to do that.), or assist in legal cases (exactly what kind of “help” I’m supposed to be capable of is unclear), don’t get massively involved in political movements in countries or states I don’t live in, don’t share videos of child abuse to bring someone to justice, (it’s kind of a crime to share the video, so, yeah.) and now the latest, almost daily messages because I don’t get outraged about whatever the latest made up or exaggerated story of the day is.
It’s not the false information that gets me, it’s the near constant outrage direct at me for not being outraged enough.
The people upset that I don’t offer more services can usually be chased away when I explain this site is run by one person, who also has a full time job, a wife, and an actual life. Maybe I’ll even be kind enough to send them a link to an actual support service instead of a blog. I have no idea how anyone coming to this site thought this was a full service shop, but whatever. Many times they are in crisis, and probably not reading the details.
The people who really just want to me promote their personal fundraisers usually go away when I ignore them, though some are really annoyingly persistent.
But in the last couple of years, these are the kinds of interactions that continue to pop up. They usually go something like this:
Random person I’ve never heard from before: “You need to share this everywhere, people need to know, this is outrageous!!!”
Me “Actually, that’s not even true, here look at this fact check”
Random “You’re lying, this is a serious thing, and you call yourself an advocate for children?”
Me – “I am an advocate for children, but this isn’t true. There’s nothing to warn people about”
Random – “If you don’t speak up about this, you’re a pedophile supporter!!!! I’m going to warn everyone about you!”
Seriously. I’ve written about being a survivor of child abuse and tried to educate people about child abuse and mental health for 19 years, and yet I spend parts of every week with random people online claiming that I’m somehow pro-pedophile because I don’t share their outrage over false information and conspiracy theories, or anti-children because I refuse to ask readers to donate money to people I don’t personally know and can’t verify.
It’s enough to make you just give it all up and walk away.
That, to me, is cancel culture. I know there’s a lot of talk about cancel culture and whether it even exists or not, but frankly, to me, the real canceling that goes on online is when the good, thoughtful and caring, people just walk away instead of being here and having their voices matter. Because they’re tired. They’re tired of the constant outrage, the constant anger directed at them for not doing, and believing, everything random people expect them to. The vitriol directed at them in direct messages, comments, and tweets for simply trying to have a conversation, from all sides. For not supporting conspiracy groups, for not using the correct words, for not advocating for exactly the same things, in exactly then same way. Because if you don’t “agree” with them and show your support, in clear, and often financial, ways, you are the enemy.
Seriously, it gets old. It’s toxic. It’s exhausting. It makes you question why you even bother with this at all. I, for one, don’t need this in my life on a regular basis. No one does. So, instead of having real conversations about real issues, and doing real education, we’re walking away and letting the worst kinds of people win the internet.
I’m tired, but I’m not ready to do that. If 19 years of working to educate people, and let anyone know that they are not alone as a survivor, or as a person dealing with mental health issues, isn’t enough for you, and you can’t understand that all of the things I do online to make this happen I do in my spare time, for free, then you can go somewhere else.
Take all of your fake outrage and fake “facts” with you too.