So the new year started off with a bang on South African social media, most especially Twitter, with shots fired from all sides and it seems like the controversy and the precarious position we’re currently balancing in all started with THOSE horrid, hateful, ignorant and hurtful comments made by Penny Sparrow and before long people were climbing on that band wagon and there was fighting, mud slinging, insults, hurtful and hateful words being spewed across social media. I’m sure we can all agree, it was an ugly place to be. And honestly, there were times I despaired. There were times when what I read hurt and frightened me.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I don’t want to add my voice to the noise, I want to tell you about what I learned from last weeks social media mayhem.
I learned that if you look carefully, you’ll find little gems. People, who like me, are looking to engage, to share their points of view, their hurt, their thoughts and experiences in away that not only engages, but helped me see and understand others points of view, people who have a totally different point of reference to me, who helped me see how retaliatory comments were not necessarily coming from a place of hate, but a place of hurt. Those same people who felt those comments should be dealt with and not excused.
I learned that if another’s point of view made me uncomfortable, I should look within myself and examine the reasons why they caused discomfort, without responding in anger, that if I engaged with the right people, they could often help me see things differently, understand things differently, experience things differently.
If we’re aware enough and willing enough and thoughtful enough, we can learn from even the most uncomfortable situations by listening, by digesting what is being said, by understanding that we may have a different point of reference to someone else and that by listening to their point of reference, we could indeed learn something valuable.
I may seem ignorant by admitting this, but it’s through social media and those gems I spoke of earlier, that I’ve become so very very aware of my white privilege, a concept which is still denied by so many. And it’s with this knowledge that I’m learning to humbly and carefully seek out those gems who can help me to understand.
I saw this video a few week’s ago and it was so helpful in explaining what white privilege is, I’d love it if you’d take the time to view it and share your thoughts with me:
As a South African, as a woman and a mother and as a mother raising mixed race children, I feel I have a responsibility to learn and to understand my fellow countrymen. I believe that while the last week of social media has been shit and it’s hurt and it’s brought up anger and resentments, there is still an opportunity for us all to grow and understand.
I’m mot saying we should all hold hands and sing Kum Ba Ya, but I do think we could control how we respond to hate and hurt because from my own experience, there are lessons to be learned everywhere.
Twitter can be a truly amazing place if u choose to engage instead of insult & condemn! I’ve learned so much this week! Thanks Tweeps!
— Blessed Barrenness (@SharonVW) January 10, 2016