The Dark Side To Facebook
I have a one track mind today which is largely due to me thinking about the dark side to Facebook. I have noticed since I started writing this article, that I am not the only one, after seeing the posts of quite a few people with similar feelings. These thoughts have been sparked by a post I saw on Facebook and some of the comments that followed, which made me feel a bit ho-hum about life on Facebook and contemplative of it’s effects on people. While there are many positive interactions and uplifting messages to be found and enjoyed on Facebook, and I use it regularly for social and business reasons, I feel there are equally a large number of negative experiences that have the opposite effect. I’m curious as to how many people wake up to social media posts that instantly make them feel they wish they had never logged on that day. I know I do on many occasions. Before I bring up the particular post that I am referring to, it is important to recognise what those negative experiences are and how you can deal with them, a lot of which involves self management. In other words, how you respond internally to them can be the deciding factor in how much they affect you.
The Dark Side to Facebook is Everywhere
Firstly there is a whole bunch of bad news and political propaganda that everybody shares and everybody seems to be strongly affected by in their varying opinions. In terms of the news, and I wrote about this in another article recently, it’s nearly always bad news and often has the ability to depress people quite severely. I don’t know how you feel after hearing distressing, sad or even horrific news everyday, but for me it can upset my entire day if I don’t be careful about my exposure to it. I rarely click on a news headline on Facebook so as not to see an endless supply of devastating and traumatic events, because you can be sure if the news is bad, you’ll find twenty more headlines about the same incident. On the other hand, I also believe there are a lot of false headlines on Facebook designed to get people to click on them only to find nothing at all relating to the headline advertised, which is very misleading and fosters a lot of misinformation. Keep a check on yourself to make sure you can emotionally cope with what you might find upon logging in to Facebook.
Political and Policy Opinions Can Start Wildfires
Those political stances and new policy opinions that many people like to throw around on Facebook have been known to incite very heated arguments back and forth between many people, causing lasting damage between strangers, friends and even between family members. I had something along these lines happen to me a couple of years ago and things like that just aren’t forgotten and don’t mend, with the only thing left to do is to hope you can begin to forgive the other person, which can take some time for the healing process to take effect. Much of how you respond to these events can explain why you feel the way you do. In other words do you take it on board and get all up in arms about political agendas, or hold it in and dwell on what it means for the world, or can you move beyond these issues and get on with life?
I find that some people just can’t seem to get past certain topics and get all worked up over something that they can’t really change, for example a new governmental policy. But if you can’t change it, you need to be able to let it go. There are particular topics that are so volatile that you can unwittingly expose yourself to being attacked on Facebook for making a simple statement. Sometimes it is better for your own health and sanity to reduce the effect these things have on you. By all means, if you want to sign a petition against Monsanto for example, or help spread the word about other injustices, might I suggest you be very careful about your wording so as not to spark the flames of attack. Try not to make it about you making a political statement if you are not prepared to receive flack from other people’s differing opinions, because trust me, people only read what they want to read and may entirely miss your point. However, even the most careful of comments can end up being misunderstood and lead you to be attacked.
I will outline an example of how people can easily misinterpret an innocent post, one of mine in fact. I was really quite hurt by this one particular attack on me, which was not only very public, so I didn’t even get the chance to feel privately hurt, but caused me to feel humiliated in front of my many Facebook friends. Not to mention the fact that it was completely undeserved and an incorrect assessment of what my actual post was about. I was grateful to those of my friends who stepped in and responded in support of me without me having to respond for myself until some time later. The sad thing about this occasion was that the person involved had actually misinterpreted my post, in particular my accompanying comment relating to a very controversial subject.
The person thought I was offering my opinion on a very heated and volatile topic that had a lot of people already on the warpath on this particular subject. Where in actual fact I was merely pointing out that I could see both sides of why people might be in favour of, or opposed to this topic, due to my own experiences. The ensuing attack was quite uncalled for and made the other person involved look very limited in their ability to understand in-depth issues where there are two sides to a story, two very emotional sides in fact, with there being very valid reasons for each side.
But it didn’t end there. My entire right to have an existence in society was dragged in to the conversation. Not to mention the apparent burden to society myself and others like me were, along with anyone else who may have the same opinion the person thought I was expressing. It certainly opened my eyes about this person whom up until this moment, I had held in high esteem. I noted over a short period of time following this, that I wasn’t the only one to suffer at this person’s very loud expression of opinions. My choice in the end was to take down the post for two reasons:
The first being that it contained highly offensive comments not only to me, but to my friends and other people who may be in a similar circumstance in their lives, such as other Carers. The person very vocally was insinuating that anyone on welfare was a waste of space in the world and anyone who did not share the same belief as this person with regards to the topic had subhuman genomes and intelligence and should be left to die out on a deserted island. Yes, you read that correctly, this is no exaggeration.The second was that while I was embarrassed to be addressed in such a manner as this, I was highly ashamed for this person, who normally expresses a reasonable level of intelligence and felt compelled to protect them from their own ignorance, even though I, nor my friends, were not given the same respect.
It took me a long time for me to recover emotionally from the betrayal of this person because not only had they attacked my comment on Facebook publicly, they had also attacked my good character. It also took a lot of self composure and personal strength for me to be able to actually hold a conversation in person with them again and try to act as if nothing had happened. But deep inside, I know I can never forget what this person said and unless I see a big change in them, I don’t believe I can ever respect them again as I once did. I also know they may never truly understand what they did which means they will probably remain in ignorance to how their opinions are not fully informed and how they might be hurtful to others.
But thankfully we can move on from these kinds of situations by realising the goodness in our own hearts that we are able to let the emotions go and at least be willing to continue on with our lives with at least a modicum of forgiveness. It shows courage and a willingness to think outside of the neat little box that society and it’s controlling forces try to keep us enclosed in to start seeing the whole picture and not just what we read, see and are told by various forms of media. Having this ability helps me see the narrowness of someone’s understanding and helps me find a way to try to forgive them for that and just hope that one day, their eyes are opened too. One day I hope the blinders like those a horse wears are lifted and they are able to see with the entirety of their visual capabilities instead of only where the blinders allow them to look.
Cyber Bullying Is Rampant on Facebook and Other Social Media
Then we see there are many people, both young and old, who are victims of cyber bullying, which can sometimes be a continuation of school or workplace bullying. Sadly, some of these people have felt so alone and harassed and unable to escape from it that they have eventually committed suicide. This does not exclude well known celebrities or child stars, examples of both of whom have recently been reported to have taken their own lives.To be any kind of celebrity in this world of social media, one needs to have thick skin and unfortunately, not everyone is born with this. Celebrities are human too, with human emotions and while I am glad to see that some of them have not let their fame go to their heads and remain compassionate even in a world of nasty and jealous people, that unfortunately they are not immune to cyber bullying as well.
Some people seem to get a kick out of trolling other people’s posts and putting up nasty comments about the post, the person or both. I still don’t understand the attraction to this kind of behaviour, all I know is it is yet another form of bullying and is inescapable on nearly every form of social media there is. When will they realise that no good ever comes from being a troll? I see trolling behaviour frequently on YouTube just to give you an example, but Facebook has a large number of trolls scanning the posts just to cause trouble or harassment to another and just for the fun of it usually.
Personally, when I see this kind of behaviour, I wonder if the person behind it has a heart or conscience, or perhaps is just terribly unhappy in their own lives that they set out deliberately to harm others. Because I can’t imagine ever behaving like this myself and find it difficult to understand how there can be so many people out there acting in this manner. It doesn’t make any sense to me except that the person is trying to gain attention, but for what reason? What could they possibly gain from it except the wrong kind of attention? Is it because they need to hurt others to make themselves feel good, important, clever (not likely), or maybe they feel like trash and so they feel the need to trash someone else’s life so theirs doesn’t look so bad? Whatever the reasons, it’s a terrible thing to do and does no one any favours.
If you are the victim of a troll, just remember you can delete their comments, you do not need to be drawn into playing their games. It can be hard, but it is not necessary for you to respond, just ignore and delete. You can block them as well if you feel a need and then you do not need to ever see their posts again. Apparently there is an option to disable comments on your posts so that may help you avoid becoming a victim to these people. You can be sure at any rate, you are not the only one they are doing this to. Reporting them is another option in terms of letting Facebook know that they are crossing boundaries and they may at least get them banned for a little while. Delete, block them, don’t take it to heart, understand that their life must be very different to yours, and move on, holding your head up high that you are not like them. That’s the best advice I can give you for dealing with trolls. If you feel confident in responding to their diatribes, then just be sure it is something you are prepared to deal with if it continues. For myself, I still prefer to be careful with what I choose to post now and how I word it in order to head off that kind of negative attention before I even receive it.
Funny Memes – Just How Funny Are They Really?
On top of this there are the seemingly harmless posts. Many memes are just that – funny! Or are inspirational and motivational. While some memes are meant to offer what is believed to be sound advice, they may unwittingly upset the people at whom the joke or advice is directed. Often this advice comes from naive or ignorant people. Take for example a post about people who suffer from depression or other mental illness. They are basically just being told they are being overly sensitive, or are drama queens, and to just get over it and get on with life.
I saw a post just this evening that read, the “government will be deporting all the mentally ill people”, and finished by saying “run my little crazy friend, run”. Which all seems harmless enough if you are not a person who suffers with mental illness. Even with the ‘joke’ at the end about running, the underlying message is that we should deport all mentally ill people and makes light of actual mental illness. I don’t know if you are a person afflicted with such, or if you are a Carer for someone that fits this category, but either way, it could cause harm to people if they are already feeling sensitive about their problems.
On a personal level, I wish there was no such thing as mental illness as it is quite debilitating and doesn’t only affect the person who suffers with it, but the people around them also. People with mental illness probably also wish they never had it and so might take offence at these posts, or worse, feel so down that it leads to them feeling bad about themselves, cause a self harm reaction, or lead to a more permanent answer to their agony. I think you get my point. Mental illness is not something that can just be wiped off the floor and any suggestion that the country would be better off without them is a very ignorant thought pattern. I rarely see memes in support of people with mental illness.
Should You Share A Post With Intent, or Without Thinking?
Last but not least, there are many posts in the form of jokes or supposedly ‘funny’ memes that contain the harsh and often uninformed opinions of some people. The ‘like’ button gets clicked on by the person’s Facebook friends to show that they agree with the post, who then often share the posts among their own friends, where the ‘like’ button gets clicked on all over again, and the meme continues on it’s way through social media. Because it is a hot topic or touchy subject, everyone wants to jump on the band wagon and share away, making it seem as if it is an opinion supported by the majority.
This might be for two reasons, they either think it’s just funny and don’t think about who they may be hurting in the process, or actually agree with the opinion and want to share it and don’t care about who they hurt. Some people share these with the intention of letting the people the meme is directed at know what they truly think of them. To some people, especially those at which they are directed, these posts can produce quite negative feelings, or be offensive and laced with sarcasm. Yet these types of posts seem to be as popular as the more pleasant inspirational quotes.
Have You Seen The Latest “Income Tax” Meme Circulating On Facebook?
Which brings me to the reason I wrote this particular post.
Has anyone seen the recent meme being spread around about income taxes? I don’t want to share the image here because I don’t want anyone sharing it from my website and propagating it even further, but it basically says;
“Income Tax – The fine you pay for being a productive member of society”
“Welfare – The reward you receive for being an unproductive member of society”
It is kind of funny in a sarcastic way when you think of income tax and how people do seem to be penalised for doing the right thing. It hardly seems fair and there is no argument from me that it’s a perfectly plausible complaint, although without income tax at all we would be in dire straits. There isn’t really a problem until you read the second part of the meme. Here it specifically brings to mind the reason this article was written and puts it into perspective. The use of the word ‘productive’ in this post truly shows us exactly who the meme is directed at. Namely, the supposed ‘unproductive’ members of society and specifically those people on welfare payments who are ‘helped’ through the contributions of the tax payers. Sadly the meme targets all welfare recipients, regardless of their circumstances, how they got to be on welfare in the first place and also the fact that many of them may well have paid their own fair share of income taxes prior to having to depend on welfare. Which appears to be completely ignored.
Let’s now look at another, more realistic perspective.
Who Gets To Receive A Welfare Payment And Are They Really Unproductive?
Let’s take a look at the breakdown of the kinds of people who might be in receipt of a welfare payment in Australia for example, and you can decide for yourself if the word ‘unproductive’ is a fair generalisation and if it truly applies:
The unemployed who are being supported by Newstart Allowance while they are looking for work. The unemployed are most likely the main target of memes such as these, however many of these welfare recipients are having trouble finding work because of being too old, not skilled enough, too over-qualified, too under-qualified, not enough jobs to go around and lastly, the odd person, a very small number in the overall scheme of things, who simply doesn’t want to work. What is not said in the meme, nor even understood by anyone sharing it, is that many of these people may have lost their jobs as ‘productive members of society’, for example through being retrenched or companies being downsized or automated, and have quite possibly paid their taxes up until this point. They are also probably going to interview after interview only to be beaten by someone else to get the job, and have probably been doing a number of courses, some at their own expense to try to re-skill themselves to give them more employment options. Many of these people are feeling defeated and have low self esteem as a result of being overlooked time and again and memes like the one I have mentioned just adds to their despair. And don’t forget that once these people manage to find employment, they once again will be paying taxes. So who are we to sit back and judge and call them unproductive? Thankfully we, in other words, you and I, do not do this.
- Sole parents being supported while they care for their young children without the financial support of a partner. Whom may find it financially impossible to pay the exorbitant child care fees to be able to remain in the workforce and actually put food on the table still and pay their ridiculously high rent. I know of sole parents who struggle every day with this and have had to leave their jobs because the outgoing expenses were over and above their incoming. I also know other sole parents who were on welfare and once their children were at an age where they could go to school, the person found employment and are back to paying taxes again. Not to mention those children who are being raised in loving homes with a parent at home who will hopefully never end up on welfare due to being more stable because their parent was home looking after them and keeping them on the straight and narrow. I remember when I was younger there was a name for children whose parent’s both worked and they came home from school to an empty house. I believe they were known as the ‘latchkey kids’, which always made me feel sad. This creates the potential for a lack of nurturing when it might mean the difference between life on the streets or a productive life for some children.
- All parents of children who qualify for a family payment, which is basically anyone in the low income bracket who also has children. Even though they are working and paying their taxes, apparently they too are unproductive because they rely on welfare to help them get by.
- The disabled being supported because they are unable to work full time due to, funnily enough, a disability. Which shouldn’t even need to be defended and we shouldn’t expect them to be able to do the same as we can. Not to say they shouldn’t be encouraged to work and get involved in activities, but some people are truly not able to participate in the same productive way of others. They contribute to society in their own productive ways. Some may even have become disabled while serving their country in a warzone. I can’t understand how these people could ever be judged as being unproductive.
- The Carers of the disabled people because for one thing, many of these unpaid carers were working and paying taxes prior to their dependent becoming disabled. Secondly, they have made a choice to stay home and care for their loved one, often for the rest of their lifetimes to offer support and assistance to another human being who deserves to have a good quality of life in the best way possible. In return for this favour to the disabled person and society, they receive a meager payment to help them survive while not being able to earn an income themselves. This means that they sacrifice their own financial options and potential success, so that they can relieve the burden from tax payers who would otherwise have to pay for full time care of the disabled person out of their taxes, which would end up being substantially much more in the long run. Some Carers may be able to continue working part time (and paying taxes), while others may not be able to work at all. Thank you to the army of unpaid Carers everywhere!
- Aged pensioners being that for years they have paid their taxes and now get to enjoy what’s left of their life on a tiny fraction of the payments they once were earning from the next generation of tax payers, or most likely from the taxes they have already paid. Even the suggested superannuation that many would have paid is not really enough to properly support them into their retirement years so their small pensions are all many of them have to sustain them over the longer term.
- University students being supported by Austudy so they can get their qualifications to become ‘productive’ members of society. That is, if they are lucky enough to find employment afterwards, because many are finding it hard to find work even with their degrees, often realising, like myself now, that they are considered overqualified for many of the jobs they might try to apply for outside of their field of study. I was overlooked as not meeting the criteria for a position at ALDI a few years ago due to my resume containing details of my degree. Even though I had thirty years of retail experience on and off, they saw me as being overqualified because they couldn’t understand why I would be applying for a sales assistant job when I had a degree. The only choice left to some is to ‘dumb’ down their resume. But even this might not work because if you have had a large chunk of time missing from your resume when you were doing a degree, or in a carer role, then you have big gaps of time on your resume where you appear to have been doing nothing, which can put employers off hiring you. It’s a case of you being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders in receipt of Abstudy because they have been neglected and disadvantaged in years gone by and the Government are trying to apologise and make it right for them again.
- Bereavement payment and allowance for a person who has become widowed or has suffered the death of a child because they may need some financial assistance to help them recover from the shock of their loss.
- Child Care benefits , while not quite a payment to an individual, it is still paid on behalf of a person, being to assist parents who meet the criteria to be able to afford to send their children to child care so they can work and earn money to pay their taxes, although this may still not be enough for many. I think the rebate may only be truly helpful for people on a slightly higher income than the majority of workers though.
- Child disability assistance payment being for parents who have a disabled child because the disability may reduce their employment opportunities and it is expensive to raise a disabled child.
- Double orphan pension being for people caring for children whose parents have died or are not fit or available to care for their children – that someone is willing to care for these children has a right to be supported in that endeavour.
- Dad and partner pay being for a father to be able to take time off work to stay home to help care for a baby. While this is a short term payment it is still a worthwhile reason for a benefit to be given
- Farm Household Allowance being for farmers in financial hardship – need I say anymore about this? We should help them considering they are providers of our food!
Grandparent advisers being for grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren due to parents not being able to do this. They may already be in their later or retirement years and have paid their taxes and are now taking on young children who are going to cost them a lot of money. If they don’t look after the children what will happen to them? Perhaps they might grow up to be “unproductive” and on welfare if they don’t get the right start to life.
- Parental Leave Pay being for parents taking leave when having a baby. From my perspective a parent having just had a baby, who has been working and paid their taxes, should be allowed a little time off to get used to being a parent and still know that the bills will be paid and there will still be food on the table.
- Sickness Allowance being for the support of people who can’t work or study due to illness, injury or temporary disability. These people have been paying taxes up until they became sick, injured or disabled and therefore are entitled to some support. They deserve to eat too.
- Widow Allowance being for a woman who has become widowed, divorced or separated after the age of 40 who may need assistance. This might be until they can do some training or upgrade their skills so they can find work where before they may have been home carers. Their husbands have no doubt been paying their taxes.
- Youth Allowance being for students or apprentices under 24 because how else can they support themselves while studying and are going to be working and paying taxes when they are finished studying?
So here are described nineteen different types of welfare payments and the kind of recipients of this welfare. It is quite clear that there are a great number of reasons that a person may be in receipt of welfare and also that nearly every single one of these people do not have, or have not had, a true choice in the circumstances surrounding why they are not able to support themselves. It is also quite clear that many of these people have at some stage in their lives, paid taxes prior to being on welfare, or will be in the future. Yet each of these people are made to feel shame and humiliation and even alienation for something they have no real control over, upon reading a post such as the meme I have just described, which calls people on welfare payments “unproductive members of society”.
How Do Posts Like This Make Me and Other Carers Feel?
I imagine it would make other Carers feel similar to me. It makes me feel very devalued. I am an unpaid Carer, and everyday I am working my butt off to ensure the care of my dependent and her children, scraping by on pittance to save the tax payers even more money while having nothing for myself. I am certainly not sitting on my behind everyday doing nothing and I’m being productive in my daughter and her family’s life by assisting her and encouraging her to be productive as well. In our world being productive is making daily improvements, giving a loving home to the children and having them do well at school so they can have a good start to life with confidence, drive and a will to succeed.. Making sure the little ones are meeting all their milestones and have a stable environment is being productive to their future ability to contribute to society. My daughter is tireless in her efforts to try to recover, trying many ways to improve her life and seeking help where necessary. It is a slow process but progress is made all of the time.
Both myself and my daughter are working towards continuous personal development and attempting to build a business so that we do not have to be a burden to society. While people who are able to work can afford the basic luxuries, I am putting effort into every spare minute I get to supplementing, or better yet, replacing the small welfare amount that I receive, so that I too might be able to afford some basic luxuries and one day actually be able to afford a nice car or buy a house on my own steam and not be reliant on other people’s tax money. This is being done through my various efforts online to improve my financial circumstances and hopefully will result in not having to rely on “Government Handouts” anymore.
While living in my current situation, I won’t ever be able to have what many other people who are working, paying taxes and living life have, if I can’t change those circumstances. I may never be able to own my own home, drive a nice new car, go on holidays every year, or treat myself to the odd luxuries like getting my hair done, or buying clothes that don’t come from a cheap variety story, that people who have more financial choices have. I wish my circumstances were different but not all of us have the choice. The last thing I wanted or expected for my life was to be living with the assistance of ‘welfare’, but we don’t always get what we want in life and the need to care for someone else should not be a tool to be used by other people to look down on me for it.
So Wow! When you look at it from this perspective, I think it’s clear from this comparison that there are very few actual unproductive members of society. Except perhaps those people, if I may turn it around on them, whose views are so narrow minded and uninformed and who are unable to see the facts staring them in the face, who are not capable of being productive in any good way. After all, how can you be productive if you can’t learn and can only see one side of the story? There is no gain from being narrow-minded and society will never grow further while these kinds of opinions are being bandied around and supported by ignorant people. I am truly grateful that I live in a country that takes care of its less fortunate people. It is such a shame that many of the people in the population can’t accept that we take care of our own. I could say karma is a bitch and that these people will get their comeuppance, but I can’t in good conscience wish that on anyone. I’m just not like that.
We are so lucky to live in a country such as we do, where there is help for people suffering through difficult times in their lives, and the majority of those people are extremely grateful. I think it’s time that the people sharing these memes ask themselves what they would do if the country took away all benefits and they suddenly found themselves in need of help. What would they do if, even though they may have paid their taxes for years, they suddenly found themselves without the means to support themselves?
What would happen if the Government said “Sorry, too many people complained about our provision of help from taxes so no one gets to receive help anymore?” How about if they suddenly became disabled but there was no support for them? What about if the job they have slaved in for the last twenty years replaced them with a robot and retrenched them? When their children need to go to university but can’t because they have to work instead because there was no Austudy to support them while studying, could they foot the bill to make sure their child got a higher education and had better job prospects? When they are old and no longer able to work, should we just cut them off from any more money and wait to see how long they survived? I guess that would ease the burden on tax payers wouldn’t it? Are these people saying we should leave our treasured mothers and fathers out in the cold? I don’t think so!!
Thoughtless Sharing And Comments Can Cut To The Bone!
I think what hit me most is that this was posted by someone quite familiar to us, whom I respected up until I read her reaction when confronted by my daughter. My daughter is recognised as having a disability, which means she gets a disability support payment and therefore was lumped into this basket along with all the other “unproductive members of society”. She was quite upset by this post. She pointed out to the person that she had just made everyone on a welfare payment of any kind, including people being considered disabled (such as herself), and their unpaid Carers (me), as being utterly useless. She thanked the person for their thoughtlessness and lack of compassion for said welfare recipients and the response she got was a curt, “You’re welcome”.
What the? Don’t you have anything else to say? Like “Oh no, I’m so sorry. I just didn’t think”, or “Oh, I didn’t think about it like that, I didn’t realise what I was sharing and how it might upset you or other people”. Nope! Where is your conscience and good character? Clearly then, we are left to assume this was one of those deliberate posts and the person just didn’t care that it hurt my daughter and devalued me in the process. Thank you very much! Neither of us asked to be disabled or an unpaid Carer, yet we are treated with this kind of disrespect and lack of understanding not only by those members of society who begrudge their tax money being spent on helping others, but from a person who should actually have known better!
There was no further acknowledgment, even after some of the person’s own friends commented negatively towards the post, that maybe the person should have thought twice about sharing this post. Especially when it might actually be taken badly by a person whom they supposedly should care about, and showed a seeming lack of compassion for my daughter’s situation. No apology that perhaps the person hadn’t realised that they were calling my daughter and myself worthless. No remorse or sudden understanding that maybe, just maybe, this post might be offensive to many people, including some of their own friends even. No sign that they even cared about my daughter or understanding of what she has been through in her life that resulted in her disability in the first place. No recognition of the growth that my daughter has had to fight through to even be able to express her feelings on this matter. I’m so disappointed in this person. I thought better of them than this, and I expected better. How very disappointing.
The sad part was that a lot of people made it abundantly clear that they agreed with the post and emphatically ‘liked’ the post, even after my daughter had commented about how it was offensive. This made my daughter feel quite distressed that someone she thought understood her, might think of her in this terrible way and made her feel even more unsupported. Not that the person has had a lot of input into my daughter’s life, or supported her anyway, but this person was still important to her.
Her words to me after this was ‘I’m so glad I didn’t grow up around them, I probably would have killed myself by now”. How awful for her to feel like that. I’m deeply dispirited that she has been treated like this and I hope that one day someone might enlighten the person about all nineteen reasons someone might have for needing to be receiving welfare, even if it’s only for a very short while, the need might arise. Meanwhile I believe the people who share the thought patterns that welfare recipients are unproductive will continue to go through life with their heads in the sand from ignorance, although their heads should be hung with shame.
When you think that a large proportion of citizens will most likely end up in the welfare system at some stage, it is quite an unrealistic view of the state of affairs. I suspect that 80 percent of the population will at some time in their lives have to rely on welfare assistance either in the short or long term. Does this mean that 80 percent of the population will be considered to be unproductive then? I wonder how these same people who have believed there to be unproductive members of society would respond if the reverse happened and they were thought to be unproductive. I daresay they would not be so vocal about taxes versus welfare in this case.
So What Should We Do?
Thinking what to do about it was difficult because we both felt emotional about the situation. But because my daughter has not been around this person and those around them much over the years, it was important to both of us to maintain some form of connection in case the situation changed. And up until this incident, we have made sure that there was contact in some way or other. We don’t know why this person has suddenly turned on my daughter, and may never know, but for the sake of how my daughter feels about the person in return, we are just watching and waiting to see if there will ever be a recognition forthcoming for their uninformed opinions or better yet, an apology.
And in the meantime rather than unfriend or block them, we just skim over any of their posts and never read them to avoid any more upsetting expressions of opinion. We also remain hopeful that the person may one day realise that they were wrong in their opinions about my daughter and admitted that they acted more than a bit nastily in their treatment of her. One day they may become aware of the amazing person my daughter has become through her trials, even in the face of such dismissal by this person.
I am so proud of my young lady for who she is, and for being persistent in always learning about her disability, how it has affected her and how it still does, and how she is slowly making progress towards a full recovery. Even though we have been told that she most probably won’t ever recover fully, we both firmly believe that it is possible. Once upon a time, my daughter didn’t feel so hopeful and mourned the fact that she though she might never recover. Today it’s a very different story. Hope and progress has created a snowball effect in continuing the forward momentum.
To all appearances, the offensive post has since been removed but no apology has been forthcoming so it is most likely the result of someone else’s comments rather than my daughter’s. Perhaps the person had the sudden realisation that they may have offended their friends after reading their responses. Or perhaps they just didn’t want other people to see how they had treated my daughter. At least now the post is not glaringly in our faces any more and helps us move beyond it.
These are just a few examples of the dark side to Facebook, I am sure many of you have had, or can recall many others. The main reason for posting this from where I sit is because I feel that other Carers or people with disabilities may find themselves feeling saddened when reading these types of posts. I want them to know that other people feel their pain too and can relate to what they are going through. It is important to learn to gloss over those posts and be aware that they are representative of the ignorance of some of the population, but not all of the population as having these same belief patterns.
People like us need to move past them and not take them to heart. It is what I mean by our internal reactions to events that happen to us. If you can remember that you have a choice in how something affects you, you can choose to let it get to you, or choose to let it go, you have taken control of your feelings about said event. These are things we have to live with, whether we like it or not and unfortunately it is the way of the world we live in today. But YOU know better and YOU should be proud to be able to see that there are two sides to every story. Just because a small number of the population are ignorant, does not mean that you are an unproductive member of society. If you ran a poll, you would probably find ninety-nine people in every hundred actually acknowledge that welfare is something anyone could find themselves having to receive at any time of their lives. These people understand the many reasons a person might have to resort to receiving welfare and these are the people who we should be more inclined to listen to and better still, associate with.
They say it is important to reduce your exposure to negative people, and Facebook certainly has it’s fair share of negative people. The only way you can really do this is to pay attention to the kinds of people you have in your friends list and what kind of posts do they generally share or like. From this you can select the people you would prefer to see posts from. Knowing this will make it easier to gloss over those people who tend to share negative things. In fact you can even choose to hide posts from some people if you so wish. I’m not suggesting that you can easily do this to some people, for example family, but it certainly will go a long way to reducing their impact on you if you choose to skip over the posts of the more negative members.
I hope you have found some solace and even hope in this article and remember that you can pick and choose what you see and read and you can avoid the dark side to facebook to some degree. It may not protect you from all of the unpleasantness in and throughout the day, but at least for the most part, you have been able to minimise your exposure by a significant amount. Stand tall in your Caring role or disability, and know that these are just the opinions of a minority group. You and I know better, and because of this, we can be proud to say we have a greater understanding of people than these other people do.
Have you had a negative experience on Facebook? If so, what did you do about it? Please share in the comments below.
Thank you for reading and keep on doing what you do best.