Friday, August 9, 2019

what are we doing about it?

Yesterday, the cross-city portion of my daily barn commute was noticeably crawling with cops. They were fucking everywhere. I texted a friend about it, saying that if Baltimore was the next ICE raid target, I was just going to lay down and go to sleep and never ever wake back up again.

Turned out, tho, it wasn't ICE. Just a plain-clothes police sergeant shot in an apparent robbery.

Ya know, because this is Baltimore. Didn't you read?? It's a war zone here. Nobody in their right mind would choose to live here. Never mind that I've called the city home my whole life. That my father called the city home his whole life. And that I drive 200 miles a week to see my horse because I can't imagine living anywhere else but the city. Never mind that.

Fortunately, early reports sound promising that this sergeant will survive his injuries.

       
Some other stuff happened this week across the US too. Perhaps you read? Unfathomable violence. A precious few minutes that changed the trajectories of countless lives. In some cases, ending them entirely.

There were other things that happened recently too. Across the entire spectrum. If you spend enough time online you'll be able to read all of it. And actually, even if you're not on all the forums or social media platforms, it's probable that some friends will text you screenshots of the absurdity.

The absurdity of fucking petty bickering. People saying outrageous things, words intended to hurt. People shouting digitally at each other. People reveling in stirring up a hornet's nest. People looking for their viral moment, at any cost. Relentlessly hurling insults, taking sides, drawing lines. You can't be right, because that would make me wrong. And I can't be wrong, so you must be the enemy.

It's almost honestly amazing. People don't talk in real life the way they do online.

But these online conversations.... Jesus. They're intense.

     
In a previous life I was a professional researcher of individuals. I'd scour the internet - any and all publicly available resources - to compile data on my target individual. Their life, their family, their assets. What they had done with their career and how they spent their time. Their interests. Etc. And I'd write a report on them. This is Joe Smith, according to the internet.

Time and time again, I'd come across public information that.... was abundantly obvious the publisher of said info never ever ever expected somebody like *me* to read it. Best examples? Wedding websites. Hoooo boy, those puppies are veritable treasure troves of personal information not findable anywhere else. People writing about the stories of how they met, funny family anecdotes. Pictures and full names of the whole family. Possibly compromising, at that. And hey, maybe even some addresses, bc why not, right?

My point being.... On the internet, your target audience is often only a fraction of your true audience. Because shit lives forever and links are forged in strange and unpredictable ways.

I think about my own audiences often. Obviously, I create content for the internet. My traffic is small in the grand scheme of things. We are a fairly tight knit, insular community here. Honestly, this space is so unlike the rest of the internet and I'm eternally grateful for that. When I write -- I'm writing for YOU. Specifically, those of you who also write and comment, it is your thoughts and commentary that influence me the most in how I write.

There are others, tho, who I know less well. Especially, young people. I don't know about reader age ranges here on the blog, but I know that at least half of my regular audience on YouTube are young people. And I don't mean 16 or 17 years old. I mean YOUNG. I know this bc I watch their videos and cheer them on too.

And it makes me wonder.... Do they see the same sides of the rest of the internet that I see? Do they also experience the crazy awful shit that goes down in some of these forums, and on some of these platforms?

    
Maybe I'm just getting old, but.... young people today seem different from when I was their age. Being 13 is fucking hard, there are no two ways about it. And I had peers when I was that age who were in therapy. Who were on meds. Who struggled to adjust. But today... God it just seems like there are so many more.

A former barn rat I knew from approximately age 9, who is now 13, tried to kill herself recently by overdosing on her prescription anxiety meds. Another I know who is on the cusp of adulthood... most days she can't get out of bed.

It makes me want to scream. I don't know what to do. How are we failing these kids so badly?

I can't help but think that the state of our online discourse is a major contributing factor for these digital natives. Sure, there are other systemic factors -- major industries, like what are we even feeding these kids??? But that acute anxiety... What example are we showing? How is this huge gaping chasm between how we talk to each other online compared to how we talk to each other in real life contributing to this sense of urgent anxiety??

More importantly, what on earth can I do to help? What possible difference can I make?

I don't think the answer is clicking "publish" on some scathing screed on the forums. Honestly, it's probably more important to Stand UP, and Step AWAY from the screen. And look at the kids around me at the farm. And try to remember what it was like when I was their age.

Maybe if I paid more attention, I'd see more. More opportunities to be nice. Ask how things are going, whether they had a nice ride.

So often, I'm distracted by my own needs. I am as petty, gossipy, jealous and selfish as the next person. And these feelings often cloud my own perception of how those around me are feeling. Even my closest friends and loved ones.

But... I'm going to try harder. Because I don't think it's going to get any easier any time soon.
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And if there are any readers out there who want to talk, email me at fraidycat.eventing at gmail.


18 comments:

  1. Well done. Have some thoughts that might someday become a blog post, but they arrive in the same place. Be kind. Always.

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  2. Just want to say that I love Baltimore so much, and I love that you love it. My husband even recreated Fell's Point in his living room when he proposed (with Natty Boh). Definitely in my top 5 places to live. Kinda wish we did live there so we could be in-person buds! Thanks for thinking your thoughts and putting them on the Internet for me and others to read. XX

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  3. It makes me so sad to think of the Baltimore I loved as a child, and what Baltimore has become. I have defended our city for years, but honestly, I don't head into the city too often anymore, and it's getting harder to defend.

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  4. ������

    Yeah. As much as millennials are messed up, I worry about the next generation who have watched Gen X and millennials go through the last ten years, and who have grown up with current social media and state of affairs. I saw a tweet the other day that said basically our entire country has PTSD because there was a panic in Times Square when a motorcycle backfired and it's...tragically Too Real. I think stepping away, and reaching out to the youth, are really good steps. That's part of why I volunteer for Girl Scout workshops and stuff. It helps, to ground yourself and make connections.

    Sidebar: it's interesting what you mention about people leaving PII everywhere. I grew up in on forums and messageboards and you did *not* share identifying info, whereas I've seen people posting public pictures on Facebook to celebrate buying a new house--with their house's new address in the picture. ������

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    1. Oop emojis didn't go through.

      First line: <3 <3 <3 <3

      Last line: D: D: D: D:

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  5. I needed to read this. I wrote a post last month about feeling like my barn was invaded by rude youngsters but what you've written here is so true. Though I have never been anything but polite to the teens in my barn, it's time to put my big girl pants on and meet them with the empathy and compassion they deserve. It's tough enough out there, I want them to feel like our barn is a safe place to escape all that noise. Plus, if R+ training is proven more effective for horses, certainly it has a place in shaping human behavior, too. ;) I'm going to make an effort to grumble less and encourage more.

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  6. It's easy to vilify. And pile on. Honestly, it's so discouraging. On my vacation I actually avoided the news. And I love knowing what is going on. I love your approach and I think that it is important.

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  7. There is some crazy shit going on in the world right now, and the equestrian community just upped the ante this week. I can't imagine growing up in a time like now... I mean- I remember when Colombine happened and how novel and tragic it was- what is it like for these kids where bulletproof backpacks are a thing? So sad.

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  8. Just wanted to share that you're a wonderful human 💕

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  9. You ARE doing things to help. You're a good person. You share your positivity and enthusiasm on the regular via this blog and your YouTube channel. You're supportive and encouraging in every comment I see on other sites, and you volunteer all the time too. There's a whole lot of good on the internet and in the equestrian community, and you're definitely part of that!

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  10. Thanks for posting this. Made me think about being friendlier to the kids at the barn. Not that I'm unfriendly, but asking about their ride more often or cheering them on in their video. It's hard to be a kid, especially with social media, and I need to remember that when I'm grumbling to myself about their loud silly barn zoomies.

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  11. <3 because words just spoil things.

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  12. great post... don't really have anything to add. your words say a lot...

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  13. Maybe hitting publish does make a difference, if only by encouraging all of us to wrestle with the same issues.

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  14. The 24/7 news cycle, the explosion of social media, the ability to become famous off of shock value viral videos...it’s all just way too much, especially for young people. My oldest is going into 6th grade this year and middle school looks MUCH different than when I was a kid. Too much pressure and everything is recorded nowadays. I’m pretty sure my kid is the only one in his class who doesn’t have a cell phone and social media accounts. Too bad, so sad- you’ll thank me later.

    Like you, it makes me incredibly grateful for this blogging community ❤️

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  15. Honestly... the idea of having a child in this world - it terrifies me.

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  16. On the one hand I get what you are saying - I know personally I want to be a kinder more understanding person who helps where I can when I can, on the other hand we are all on a crash course for a painfully hot death thanks to others inaction.

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  17. One thing I noticed is that you follow so many blogs, but also take the time to comment on almost every single one. I love that it doesn't matter if you don't have a huge following, or if you have endless media, etc. I've always loved that <3

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