My father passed away 11 months and 14 days ago. The only silver lining on his passing was that I no longer had a censor on social media. It is not that I was afraid of him as a parent. It was that I know he was set in his ways and I did not want him to worry about me. Still, there were times that I posted things that would terrify him.
Imagine my surprise when on December, his birth month, several people I know personally have started making comments on post about what I should and should not say on social media. Ironically, on my daddy’s birthday, I have something to say about this.
1) Do not expect me to conform to your way of seeing the world. The same way that you don’t want people telling you what to do, who to believe or what to believe in, I expect the same consideration. I am who I am. I don’t like using dirty words online and I have no problem saying them in public. I am overweight, overtired and smarter than average. If you don’t like me for who I am, I am sure you have plenty of people around that don’t like you either. You can always unfriend, unfollow or just forget about me. There are seven billion people in this world. I am sure I will make new friends.
2) I don’t care for what corporate America thinks. My father, my sister and most people who work in corporate America, cringe when I say something bad about a particular company. Funny how they don’t notice when I say good things about other corporations. I have a voice, I am going to use it. Most importantly, if there is any doubt around, I am a firm believer in capitalism. I believe in not shopping where I don’t care to shop. I will often criticize what I think is a mistake by any corporation in the hopes that someday they finally learn that the reason why many are going under is because they have made short-term gain a priority and if they don’t look at the long-term, they will end, just like Sports Authority, Comp USA and many others before them. I also believe that if a corporation wants to tell me how to think and what to say, then I have a right to do the same about them. For example, if I decide to go back to corporate America, I would never sign anything that says I can no longer state my opinion online. For one thing, I never post the name of the place I work for unless that chapter of my life is over. Second of all, it is nobody’s business what I have to say about anything. Third, my handle is rarely my name and there are plenty of people in the US with my name. If a CEO of a company can email his employees telling them that they should not vote for X candidate because that candidate wanted to start a universal health plan, therefore influencing his thousands of employees to vote a certain way, then I have every right to say that I don’t like X company because they don’t sell organic products. Let’s keep this straight. The days when companies were loyal to their employees are over so telling us how to think is now harder than ever. And just so we are clear. If any family member of mine is fired or asked to interfere in what I write, what I support or what I do with my life, it will be a thrill to see them in court. I have lived all my life in fear. That part of my life is over as the end is closer than the beginning and I now see that living in fear is such a waste of energy.
3) Politically correct is not the same as abusive, insulting and offensive statements. Having said that, I have never said anything offensive. I have stated my truth to the best of my abilities and for that I will never apologize. Unlike poor Steve Martin, who called Carrie Fisher beautiful and was bashed for it, I will not take anything back, especially when I am not insulting the person I am saying it to. If a third-party feels offended, they need psychological help because they should mind their own business. That does not mean that you cannot state your opinion. You have every right to say how you feel, especially when it is something that was stated publicly. Where this goes south is when people decide to bash, demean or insult the other person. We are now in a society where people confuse opinions with facts, and where we lost respect for other people’s opinions. We need to stop this before nobody can say anything because it will offend someone. And the offended people need to stop being so defensive.
4) We have created an environment where social media is only permissible for good news. If people share their engagements, marriages, children, promotions, etc. it is OK. However, when a person decides to share their struggles, their divorces, their miscarriages, cancer or any other reality of life, we are frowned upon and told that we should not share our private life. The last time I looked, marriage, children, promotions and all the other things were part of private life as well. Life is not all ice cream and chocolate. Believe me, if it was, I would be first in line. The reason why social media studies harp so much on the levels of depression generated by “social media envy” is because people are more interested in being liked than they are in being real. Where is it going to end? The saddest part of this is when you read stories of suicide victims. You have a family showing you their college kid’s profile on social media as they tell you that they had no idea that their kid was going through hell. You listen to coworkers of someone state how this person seemed so normal on Facebook and yet they were so desperate for attention they bought a gun and proceeded to shoot ten of the people they worked with. People are ashamed to tell their truth. We are scared to say when we are scared, sad, depressed, lonely or overwhelmed. We live in a society where “negative” feelings are to be avoided at all cost and medicated whenever possible. I have news for you. It is normal to be sad, it is perfectly OK to feel lonely, and there is nothing wrong with feeling overwhelmed or pathetic every once in a while. Having feelings is not positive or negative, what actions we take based on those feelings can have positive or negative impact. There are people around that will not judge you if you are sad and many will love you in spite of having down days.
The reality is very simple. I know most of the critics love me. But they don’t know me. They think that, because they have been in my life for twenty, thirty or all 50 years, they know me and they know what is best for me. They are wrong. If they were right, they would know that when I tell you that I don’t want your opinion, I really don’t want your opinion. If they really knew me, they would know that at this particular point in my life, I would rather declare bankruptcy than go back to a corporate job. Nothing wrong with people who want to work at a job. Me? I feel like I gave up who I was to try to conform for twenty years, mainly to make my dad happy and help put food on the table. I’m done with that. I am now following my truth. Will it be hard? YES. The funny thing is that because I am 50, finding a job in corporate America right now would be harder than succeeding by myself, so I might as well give ME a chance.
Live your truth people. If you don’t, one day, you will meet your end and you will find yourself crying for everything you did not get to do. I have no intention of doing that.