Social Media and Slurs

I have a fairly wide range of Facebook ‘friends’, from as far back as primary school. Having been exposed to many different social groups in my life means that the people I know are wildly different in any way you can think of – race, gender, sexual orientation, level of education, religious beliefs, and so on.

My own world views have changed over this time, going from fundamentalist Christianity through to atheist humanism. I’ve learned that a lot of the things I thought when I was younger were misguided or outright wrong, and while I’m embarrassed at some of the things I said and did, I’ve moved on to doing my best to be better.

I know that some of the people I know will hold different beliefs to me, and for the most part I try to leave them be. I’ve learned that calling people out on beliefs that I think are wrong doesn’t really help, and ends up being very frustrating for all involved. So unless people are commenting on what I’ve posted, I leave it be (at least these days).

But there’s one place that I feel very torn about speaking up, and that’s on the topic of various slurs (mostly gender or sexual orientation-related, because that’s what I see coming up). I see someone with a sore throat saying that they’ll have a ‘tranny voice’ or someone throwing around gay as an insult, and I get pretty pissed off. I don’t want people to just not have their cruel words let slide.

The truth is, I’m not good at calling people out consistently. And when people are consistently using nasty slurs, I tend to just hide them from my feed. Because I don’t want to have to deal with homophobes every day. It’s exhausting. I sometimes justify it to myself as ‘I don’t really know them very well, why would they listen to me’ or ‘I don’t want to cause problems’.

I think that the way I’ve been dealing with it (just pushing the problem away) isn’t good enough. The LGBT community can’t just push these things away. It’s their constant lived experience. The least I can do is try and make a little difference by standing up and saying ‘this is not ok’. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s better than doing nothing at all.

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