I don’t like confrontation. I’m blessed to not know any one that does. I try to keep my online world and real life focused on the positive and uplifting. In doing this I’ve often not spoken up about things that I’ve seen or had happen to me for fear of bringing the mood down for everyone else. But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m no longer able to silently process the stuff that occurs and I’m realising that if we all sit silently and say nothing then it’s akin to condoning people’s actions.
I’m done with sitting silently and hoping that people amend their behaviour.
Every week I’m lucky enough to get emails from people all over the world. I interact with people on social media and I meet amazing people through my teaching. It’s fabulous and I wouldn’t change it for the world. However, I also have to deal with the seedier side of the internet. The side of the internet where people think that because they’re behind a keyboard or a phone they can type what they want without repercussion. I get it. Anonymity is a fabulous thing for some people. However, this anonymity and the belief that you can express yourself any which way you choose is sucking the air out of the room for me.
A couple of weeks ago I broke with the normal routine around here and posted about my views on something that was occurring politically in another country. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I try not to make a big habit of it because I don’t come to lifestyle blogs for that sort of thing and I assume others don’t either so I tend to like to stay on topic. However, this event was very disturbing for me and I made the call that saying nothing was not appropriate in this instance. I’ve also become a little more outspoken this time around with #100Days100Blocks about copyright infringement and expectations from participants about prizes and participating.
Posting about these things has resulted in the following:
- People unfollowing me on social media. I’m a huge fan of the unfollow. I use it, I recommend it and I think it’s one of the best features about the internet. You can dip in and out of social media account, blogs and mailing lists as they appeal and for the various stages of your life. It’s awesome and it’s silent. I’m not phased by numbers, so the unfollow has never been an ego breaker for me. I am much more interested in having a community around me that I can bring joy and happiness too. If I’m not doing that for you, then silently unfollow. However, lately I’ve been getting the unfollow with either a comment, DM or email letting me know that someone is unfollowing me. I don’t understand this behaviour. What’s the point of letting me know that you’re unfollowing? Do you want me to beg you to keep following me? It ain’t going to happen – I’m not a fan of people staying in a relationship where they’re not happy, so why would I want you to keep following me if I’m making you unhappy? If you’re telling me so I can amend my behaviour, what’s the point you’re not going to be around to see it I’ve already “lost” you. If you’re telling me to give me the opportunity to explain myself and maybe apologise if I’ve inadvertently offended you, then telling me you’re unfollowing me isn’t a way to open this dialogue because it comes across that for you it’s all about a power relationship (if you don’t do what I want I’ll take my number from you because you’re a blogger so therefore numbers must mean something to your ego) and not about having a healthy and respectful relationship. If you’re telling me to have a dig at me, again what’s the point? Does it make you feel good to kick someone? Or are you hurting so much that you want to make someone else hurt. If that’s the case then again, not the way to go about getting my attention.
- People sending me comments, DM’s or emails that are rude, inflammatory and downright crazy. I’m all about having an open and respectful discourse. It’s how we all grow and learn. I can’t see your point-of-view if you don’t share it with me courteously and respectfully. It’s how I try to behave and conduct myself and that’s what I expect from others. We’re not always going to agree on things, and that’s cool and I’m not going to think less of you because you don’t agree with me. In fact, I love it when someone doesn’t agree with me and chooses to explain to me why they don’t in a respectful manner because it gives me a chance to see something from another perspective and grow. If you want to name call, threaten, abuse or rant at me, I’m just going to block and delete and that’s a waste of time and energy for both of us. Don’t forget – I’m a person behind the screen and words can be hurtful. You might be surprised to know how long a nasty comment or email can stay with someone and impact their life no matter how “strong” or “together” you might think they are.
- People telling me that they’re no longer going to participate in the event. This one I also don’t get. I host the events free for participants. I try to run them as laid back and easily as I can to make them to be as inclusive as possible. Obviously, I have to have some structure and guidelines in place because there’s prizes involved and so I want to keep it a level playing field for everyone. I don’t charge people to participate. I don’t keep a log book of who’s participating. I don’t ask people to register. I put the event together and then let people choose freely whether to be involved or not. Telling me you’re not going to participate because I’m strict about protecting an author’s copyright isn’t going to make me change my mind about it. I will never run an event where I support, encourage, turn-a-blind-eye, towards people stealing. If you can’t see that not paying for a pattern, making copies of a pattern, publishing alternate methods for making that pattern (without the Author, Publisher or Pattern Designers permission) or sharing digital copies is stealing then this is not the event for you. (If you’d like to know more about why I’m so protective of seeing Authors and Pattern Designers get paid for their work then check out this blog post by Patterns by Jen for some insight.) And that’s totally cool, it’s your choice to participate just like it’s my choice to champion the protection of other people’s livelihoods. If you’re telling me you’re not going to participate in hopes that I will change something, then I can kind of get on board with that, but I’d suggest maybe contacting me privately about it so we can talk about it and who knows maybe you have seen something in a way that I haven’t and it needs to be changed. Threatening me about taking away your participation is not going to start that conversation out on the right foot – I don’t respond to threats.
In the past fortnight I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my choice to post about that political topic and to be vocal about the things I care about and I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- I will speak up. I’m not going to stay silent because I’m afraid of ruffling some feathers. Don’t get me wrong – I am afraid to speak up – trust me, no one likes seeing emails pouring into their inbox accusing them of all sorts of crazy things and threatening their livelihoods – but you know what I’m more afraid of… saying nothing and seeing everyone’s rights get eroded because we all chose to say nothing out of fear of what others might do or say or think about us.
- My sharing my opinions and beliefs does not equal me judging you for your opinions and beliefs. If you believe with all your heart and being that copyright doesn’t need to be protected that’s your call. We’re both adults and we should be able to talk freely about these things so that we can both learn and grow. If you don’t agree with an opinion I have about something politically then that’s cool too. Doesn’t mean that I’m a horrible person or you are – it’s just a difference of opinion. I’m not judging you on your opinions or beliefs, I’m deciding based on your behaviour and actions whether I want you in my life or not.
- You have the greatest power of all: freedom of choice. I want you to be able to freely choose who you’ll follow and when. I want you to exercise that right to choose often and without fear of reprisals. I would love for you to follow me because we connect and I bring positivity to your world, but if you’re no longer feeling it then I want you to go find your bliss with someone else. My feelings won’t be hurt, I promise! Just because we part company now doesn’t mean we can’t come back together at a later date or that either one of us is a bad person.
- I will not enter into the behaviour of publicly “shaming” people, but I also will no longer stay silent. I’ve seen people do it. They repost comments, DM’s or emails that they’ve been sent to bring other’s attentions to behaviour that they don’t agree with. I get the temptation. You’ve just had something land in your lap that’s rude, inflammatory and hurtful so you want to lash out. I get it. It’s totally understandable. However, it’s not how I’m going to choose to handle these types of interactions. I used to say nothing. Turn the other cheek. However, I’m not going to do that any more. I’m going to respond respectfully and courteously and, if needed, I’m going to let you know that your behaviour towards me was uncool. I responded to every negative email I’ve gotten in the past two weeks in regards to my political opinion. In all but one case the person who sent the email never responded, and in the one case they did we went on to have a very respectful conversation that showed me some things I hadn’t considered and helped me to grow and I’m so very thankful for that. For those that send me the “I’m unfollowing” or “I’m not participating” message I’m going to respect your right to do that and then I’m going to exercise my right to block you. I figure, that if you can’t be respectful to my feelings by opening up a conversation that’s not built on a threat then I don’t need that kind of behaviour in my life.
When I first started writing this blog back in 2002 it was my online diary. The place I came to reflect, share and consider the things that were happening in my life. It was a canvas upon which I poured a little bit of my soul on to. Over the years, I’ve become so caught up in the thinking that to be successful I have to be vanilla. I no longer believe that and I’m kicking myself for getting caught up in that way of thinking. I’m going back to sharing who I am.
It’s going to mean that every so often I will post about hard to talk about things. I will add my voice to the cries for protection of our rights and freedoms. I am someone who believes in universal healthcare, free education, funding for science, arts and music. I believe that we should all have the same rights and freedoms regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender or political beliefs. I am a Christian, and I believe that Christ lead through example and his example was not to be exclusionary.
I believe strongly in the protection of children and those that cannot protect themselves. I believe that men should be taught to not rape, beat or kill women and that it’s not on women to learn how to protect themselves from men. I believe that women should be paid the same as men, and that immigrants and indigenous people should be paid the same as men and women.
I believe that getting access to guns should be one of the hardest things anyone on this planet can do. I believe that school children, concert goers, police, medics, doctors, nurses, everyone should be able to live a life where they don’t live in fear of being killed by someone with a gun (or any violent act). I believe that mental illness exists. I believe that mental health should be a priority for everyone.
I believe that we need to treat each other with respect and courtesy and that those two things do not preclude our ability to have a healthy and robust discussion. I believe that if you send me an email and you don’t start that email with a greeting that I’m probably not going to respond to it because it reads like a demand and that you don’t respect my time or effort. I believe in the power of choice, and I will exercise that choice (as I hope you do) as freely as I can to protect my mental health and well-being by being vigilant about who has access to me and who I have access to.
With all that said I promise that I will not be antagonistic or confrontational for the sake of “ratings”. That’s not me – I’m a fabric fondler, not a fighter. I’m not turning this place into a soapbox. I’m realigning my behaviour with my beliefs. I promise that I will continue to produce newsletters, blog posts, events and social media that uplifts and empowers and doesn’t get bogged down in the heavier side of life too often. My only request is that you treat me with the same respect and courtesy that I show you.
Thanks for reading this far! If you’d like to talk about anything I’ve written about above drop me an email (just remember to say hi! *wink*) and we’ll chat. I really do love hearing other people’s opinions, views and beliefs when they’re respectfully expressed. If you can shed some light on the behaviours outlined above that would be good too, maybe I’m missing something in the communication due to it being in print. Hopefully, I haven’t harshed your mellow too much by posting this but I felt like we’re at a point where I needed to get it out of my system.
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