Tamara LaPorte just posted a link to this blog by Susannah Conway and I felt every hair on my arms rise with the rightness of it. As I was reading, I remembered how awful a time I had of it when I first started busting out all over the place on line. Susannah’s permission slip isn’t about on line bullying ~ it has a much broader application than that ~ but it brought that (very crappy) part of being on line into the forefront of my brain.
The Back Story
Last year after spending a lot of time building connections, I experienced the downside of having a public persona. A very small number of people didn’t like the way I ran my online community and in ‘retaliation’, I got reamed. This was a tiny, tiny fraction of a large and loving population of people, but they were very squeaky wheels and made a lot of noise. BIG NOISE. Noise that hurt like a muthafuq because I was green as grass and didn’t know that *this is what happens when you start to rise*.
It hurt, and I did a lot of venting to my husband. In public spaces, I chose silence as the best course, and I disconnected from a whole whack of people ~ those who ‘started it’ and those who jumped on the bandwagon, and in some cases, those who associated with them. <——That was a mistake, and not one I’ll ever make again.
It was rash and impulsive and I got grief for it. A lot of grief. BUT it was the right choice for me because I am a triggery, triggery girl for whom meanness and nastiness and gossip is a source of major angst and drama ~ even it if isn’t about me ~ and that seemed to be all this group was interested in disseminating at the time.
Which brings me around to what Susannah’s post brought home for me.
A lot of people (especially those you disengage from) will try to tell you that deciding to disengage from people whose posts make you feel like shit makes you a bad person.
Disengaging from people who make you feel bad is the most self-caring, life-affirming thing you can do.
I have a pretty strict policy now of disengaging sooner rather than later. If I even get a little flip flop of ‘funny in my tummy’ when I look at a person’s profile or blog, I disengage. Quietly. Without notice. Block. Ban. Delete.
Because this is my life and I get to decide who’s in it, whether through this screen or through my front door.
It’s been a half a year since that was an issue for me. I’ve mended fences and am even finding friendships where there was serious hostility and enmity before. I have forgiven and been forgiven, for the most part and I am happily embroiled in a love affair with a whole whack of juicy, amazing people on line and I couldn’t be happier. BUT (and this is a big one) I *do* occasionally have lingering doubts about whether or not disengaging from people whose posts make me feel bad is the right thing to do. Shouldn’t I engage empathy? Shouldn’t I try to love them from a distance? Bless them from afar?
And my soul rises up when I consider this, and my dragon scales unfurl, and my sword of fire unsheathes itself, and my good fences dance before my eyes and remind me that I live where the peace is *because* I disengage from on line fuckwittery, nastiness, and other forms of life-suckage.
Good boundaries are essential to my peace of mind. Discerning who and what is good for me and who and what isn’t is crucial to my being drama-free. I get to choose, and I choose to attend to what is beautiful and meaningful in my life. I choose to spend my energy where it is welcome. I choose NOT to waste one precious second of my life on people who don’t behave in alignment with my values.
And when people notice that I’ve disengaged and it hurts their feelings, or they become angry about it, I admit it: I do feel sad about that, and I wish there was a way to disengage without them noticing at all, but choices have consequences. You choose to be nasty, I choose to move on. All I can do is remind *myself* that your nastiness is your choice, and my PEACE is my choice.
I’m adding this permission slip written by Susannah Conway to my arsenal of dragon scales and good fences.