Monday, August 14, 2017

Stop Feeding the Hate

My family had a difficult time last week. We lost an amazing member of our family. My husband’s Uncle Ron was one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. Ending an already grief filled week with the horrific events that happened in Charlottesville resulted in my struggling to figure out what to write for today’s blog post.

So I decided I’d talk a bit about hate.

For the longest time, ‘hate’ was considered the ‘h-word’ in our house. Even now that our daughter is old enough to know most of the curse words we still don’t like to use the word ‘hate’ in our family. If she says she hates her pencil, we challenge her to express her frustration a different way. Then we talk about why we don’t want to say hate often. And why is that, you ask?

Because hate feeds hate.

You start feeling justified in hating one thing, then it becomes easier to hate something else. And then something else. And then someone else. And it builds. Hate feeding hate.

I remember the first time I felt true hatred toward a person. It scared me so much I sought help. I needed to talk to someone because I didn’t like how it made me feel. I’m grateful that back then we didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or other social media outlets. Who knows what I might have said or done in the heat of my hatred. I knew I had to find a way to let go of that hate because I could feel it festering, and it made me look at all the other aspects of my life through a negative filter.

But these days we do have a boat load of social media outlets to express our frustrations. Places where we read post after post and tweet after tweet, feeling our anger build higher and higher. The hatred is in our comments and tweets—from expressing our hatred for the white supremacists who acted this past weekend, to the terrorists who bomb innocent people, to the people who open fire in schools and gay nightclubs, and to those who gun down cops. Hatred is even in even our negative comments about our Presidents (I use the plural because while this presidency seems worse it’s not new). We are hurt and angry and confused—hatred is bubbling and it wants to be released. So we do. We find a target and let it fly.

I don’t think most of us sitting behind our computers associate expressing our feelings of frustration with perpetuating hate. We want people to hate things like what happened this past weekend in Charlottesville. If we don’t, then we have no hope left for humanity. So if we hate what happened, then we can hate those who did it—along with anyone else who we feel didn’t live up to our expectations of how they should have reacted to the situation. I get that. I feel that.

But the reality is when we share those feelings we are feeding the hate. We are keeping the hate alive. We are telling others that it’s okay for them to do the same.

Commenting that the white supremacists are pieces of shit who deserve to burn in hell will not make them change their beliefs. It will only feed their hate.

Our posts and tweets about how the President sucks for not saying the right thing at the right time will not stop racism. It only feeds the hate of others.

I’m not saying we can’t feel all these things. Again, if we don’t feel them then I worry about humanity. But I think it’s time to start questioning ourselves about the effect of our viral comments and actions.

Many of the people stopping by our blog today are probably in the writing community. We have platforms where people listen. We have a chance to help stop the spread of hate through thoughtful consideration of what we share. We’re writers—we should be able to express our feelings in a way that will encourage others to act in support and unity rather than to fuel hatred and division.

Let’s all do our best to stop before every post/comment/tweet/share/like and ask ourselves what side of the line it falls on. Does it have the potential to feed hate, or does it help close the divide and move us to unity?

I’m not saying we should stand by and accept what’s happening. But what we’ve been doing clearly isn’t working. It’s not getting better. As individuals, we can’t change the beliefs and behaviors of others, but we can start spreading light. We can start spreading love. Hopefully, if enough of us shift the dynamic then it will start to drive out the hate.



Brenda St John Brown said...

I love/hate social media for the fact that it allows a broad expression of viewpoints. But it's also a feeding frenzy. An opinion is expressed. Comments ensue -- and usually get worse as the number grows b/c people feel "brave" enough behind a keyboard to say things they may not be willing to say in real life. But, I agree with you that the true bravery is in spreading love and not feeding the hate. I don't know how to do this on a broader scale but in my little corner of the world, I'm pretty adamant that hating something doesn't make it go away.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I completely agree with you Carrie, the spin has to stop somewhere, because it's out of control. You nailed it when you said we are all feeling the same thing when confronted with acts of violence but I think we don't know how to channel our fear and it comes out as hate. I am confounded as to what can be done to reverse the movement of hate? I think your idea of spreading light is a good place to start. We can't go back so onward with love.

Peter short said...

It was a very good post indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in my lunch time. Will surely come and visit this blog more often. Thanks for sharing.
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