Over the past several weeks, I have felt like there are tons of people online that are showing up just to say something shitty to a person they don’t even know. I see it happening to friends, and it’s been happening to me and to Wil a lot. Around this time last year, Wil observed that it may have to do with the fact that school is out, so there are a bunch of bored, unsupervised kids trolling the internet who don’t make the connection that there’s a real person on the other side of the shitty comments they’re spewing at all of us. It’s probably the case again now, but it still has been bumming me out and as a result, I haven’t been inspired to write anything new here for a month, and I’ve had large chunks of time where I don’t even look at Twitter. In fact, over this last week I had been considering just removing myself permanently from all social media just so I didn’t have to see this stuff. It isn’t as bad as it was back in April when I was attacked relentlessly after Calgary Expo,** but that experience soured me on humanity so much that even the smallest shitty comment was making me feel like I just wanted to get the hell outta dodge.
When I looked at Twitter yesterday morning, my timeline was filled with friends who were attending E3, a gaming expo that will be going on this entire week. I loved how excited they were to see the things they love (and again bothered by seeing shitty comments that were being sent to them when they posted things they were happy about) but the reality is I don’t play any of these video games so I have no idea what they are talking about. I decided it would be fun to create my own “online conference” in the form of adorable pictures of pets who would be attending and called it EEEEE3, because every time I see a ridiculously cute animal, my voice goes up 5 octaves and I squeal “EEEEEE!!!” I posted pictures of my own animals attending my made-up conference and tagged it with #EEEEE3 so if other people posted pictures, they could all be seen under the one hashtag. My timeline went from video game tech posts to HUNDREDS of the cutest pet pictures I have ever seen in one afternoon. This made me so happy, and was a great reminder of why I do anything online to begin with; to meet people who have similar interests as me, and to have a place to share silly stories, talk about something I love, and even talk about things that have been a struggle in my life.
After an afternoon of having my faith in humanity restored, I was thinking back on the last three years of being on social media and having a blog, and why I would miss it if I bailed on the whole thing. This last week, it was a great way to let people know about our friend, Stepto, who became gravely ill and was (and still is) in the hospital (doing much better everyday, thank gods) and that his family needed help in being able to be with him during this horrific ordeal. It has also been the place where I once wrote about living with someone with depression and still get emails and meet people who tell me how much that post helped them and/or someone they love who hadn’t yet gotten treatment for themselves. It’s been the place where I’ve been an ambassador for Women’s Health Week and have had a couple of women tell me that because of my post encouraging them to get annual screenings, they found breast cancer and are getting the treatment they otherwise wouldn’t have known they needed. I hear from single parents who’ve read about my own struggles as one, couples who invite us to their wedding because they feel a connection to us and the relationship Wil and I have worked so hard to build and maintain for nearly 20 years, and on top of all that, it’s the countless stories from other rescue pet owners who share my passion for helping animals in need that fills my heart beyond words.
In any situation in life, your experience is what you make of it. We can’t always steer clear of the bad that comes our way, but we can definitely navigate toward the things that we love and the things that matter to us. I like that I found that path again. Thanks for being the unsuspecting guide.
**Since Calgary Expo, I changed the ability for just anyone to post comments on my blog because I knew it would be another platform for people to show up and be horrible. You can still comment, you just have to register to do it so it verifies who you are to avoid throw-away accounts from asshats. Thank you for understanding.