Category Archives: Facebook

A day off

A man’s day off is his day off. A woman’s day off is time to catch up with the housework.

That quote flew past me the other day on Facebook. I can always tell what material I’m getting from Facebook and what’s from Twitter – Twitter gives me good solid reality-based journalism to work from, Facebook gives me shirt snappy stupid quotes. I thought that Twitter was for short and snappy, but people there know the joys of the link. Anyway. I digress.

This kind of junk gets fancy titles like hetero-normative gender essentialism. It has a basis in historic reality, it is true, but it reinforces gender roles in a way that should just not be happening. It should be held up as the bullshit it is, emblematic of outdated thinking and only brought up to laugh at or learn from. Instead, it’s paraded out with a knowing ‘right, ladies’ and a wink. It’s embarrassing.

I like to live in my little progressive Twitter bubble, where stuff like this is frowned upon and looked down on. But stepping out into a more real-world Facebook, with a more diverse group of people, it reminds me that we still live in the era of cave-men in some ways.

This has been a rambling way of saying that men do not exist to do man-things, and women do not exist to do chores. People of all genders relax and do chores in varying measures, and those measures should not be expected to be defined by old-fashioned gender constructs.

My online life

I have a new policy in my online life. If you make my world a worse place in some way, you get deleted. I just don’t have the desire to see some of the crap that people spout. I’m turning my online spaces into places I would want to frequent.

I don’t mean that I will delete people who have different opinions to me in every case, every time. I can disagree about drugs, sex, and rock and roll, politics, health care, and all sorts, and that’s fine. But I’m not tolerating homophobia or transphobia. Those are non-negotiable. Racism too. Shaming people for things they can’t control – their appearance, their skin colour, their gender, the way they present, anything like that – is way out.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking ‘but what will people think of me?’ and I’ve realised, I don’t care. I want to be friends with people who respect others’ human rights. I don’t need the approval of bigots of any flavour.

I’m not strong in real life, and I tend to passively avoid difficult situations rather than actively speak up. I realise that I’m avoiding situations which bring up awkward conversations in my online life as well, and I’ve decided that’s the way I need it to be for now, especially online. I’m creating an environment that does not pose too many challenges to my mental health, so I have a place I can retreat to that is relatively safe.

I’m creating my safe space, and while I hope it doesn’t mean I lose too many people from my life, I accept that some people will go. I’m not sorry.

Taking responsibility for your thoughts and emotions

Today I saw one of those ‘suggested posts’ on Facebook from a bunch called Corlight Programmes, dealing with the idea of thoughts and emotions. Let me quote it to you:

You are in charge! Yes, that’s right – YOU are in charge of your emotions. And in charge of your thoughts. If you are not happy with the bulk of thoughts and emotions that are swirling around in your head and your body (about 60,000 a day by some estimates!) then it is UP TO YOU to change that. Even Anxiety – an emotion driven by our number one driver – the Fear Response – can be changed, reduced or generally removed. Emotions are not something that ‘happens to us’; they are our own body reacting to stimuli in a particular way. That stimuli is often our thoughts.

But where do we start? It’s easy to say “I want to feel different”, or “be different”, but how do we DO that?

It has to begin with YOU deciding that you are willing to take responsibility for your thoughts, emotions and actions – from this moment on you are WILLING to learn – learn where they come from, learn which ones you actually want to keep, and learn which ones no longer serve you and you are willing to let go.

ll that’s left then is to learn the techniques and specific skills that allow you to do just that. But it all has to begin with the choice to be different, AND accepting responsibility for your life moving forward. This may sound like a no-brainer but many people are actually not willing to accept responsibility and will forever continue to blame something ‘outside’ for their current inner turmoil. However we feel we may have been hurt / damaged in the past; waiting for THOSE people to ‘fix’ us or ‘heal’ us …. well, I think you can see you’ll be waiting a long time.

So take responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions as a path of healing for yourself. Are you willing to take this first step?

This is a wonderful mix of great advice and utter tripe, depending on who the audience is. It is true that much of what we feel originates in our own heads, in the thoughts and reactions we have to the things that happen around us. We can even learn to change some of these thinking patterns and emotional responses through learning different techniques to deal with them. It can be life-changing.

Say this stuff to a mentally ill person and you can crush the hope out of them. To think that you are responsible for the horrors going on in your mind, for the anxiety and depression, even the hallucinations, is soul-destroying. The truth of the matter is, there are some illnesses that will not respond to any kind of positive thinking. Some people are actually too unwell to work with programmes like these, and telling those people that their illnesses can be “generally removed” if they are “willing to learn” is doing them a great disservice. It’s saying to them that they’re unwell because they’re not trying hard enough/the right way to get better. It’s another condemnation.

I hate these kind of ads. Passionately. They’re designed for people that have some issues, not people who are truly suffering with serious illnesses, yet they disproportionately affect the people with serious illnesses that see them. It’s another confirmation that your illness is your own fault, and that’s crushing.

Mental illness is not about responsibility for your own feelings and thoughts. It’s about acknowledging that actually, you’re not in control of them, and you need some combination of therapy (real therapy, not this bullshit) and medication to try and live a normal, fulfilling life. This responsibility tripe is not helping.

People like this don’t get mental illness, and they think they’re helping. They may be helping some people, but others are being dragged deeper into their mental prison by things like this.

Body positivity and weight problems

I am clinically obese. With a BMI of 30.3, I just sneak into the ‘obese’ category. It’s an ugly word, an ugly label, but it is what it is. I would say i accept it and move on, but that would be untrue.

Truth is, I hate my body passionately. I hate being overweight. I fit into size 14 pants and 16-18 tops, which isn’t that far off the NZ average for women, but I feel like an absolute blimp. I feel bloated and unattractive, and I hate what I see in the mirror. As for what turns up in photos? Well, there’s a good reason that are not that many photos of me around. I see photos of me with my friends, and all I see is the vast amount of real estate I take up.

Today, a friend posted an image which said that the body acceptance movement was meant for people born without limbs, for victims of dread diseases and disfiguring crimes, but that it had been hijacked by fat people who “won’t stop eating”. This stung, because I am very aware of what I look like and it felt like the message of this was that if you’re overweight it’s because you’re a glutton, and that you don’t have a right to feel good about yourself. I commented, saying that I have been on a calorie-restricted diet for months now, and the weight isn’t moving despite eating 25% less than the average person. I’m not fat because I sit around all day gorging on chocolate, and I really resent that implication. I let a little of the pain bleed through, talking about how I feel like accepting my body feels like it’s not an option for people like me. I wondered if 1200, even 1000 calories a day would help. What I wrote was hurting, it was raw, and I probably shouldn’t have said anything. When did letting how you feel show on Facebook ever end well?

The response I got back cut deep. I was told that I must be doing something wrong, otherwise I would be losing weight.That I just needed to drop an extra 200-400 calories out of my diet. That she wanted her friends to be fit and healthy.

Well, I must be doing something wrong, because I’m still obese. Maybe I don’t have enough motivation. Maybe I don’t hate being fat enough. Or maybe I should be interrogating why I feel this level of self-loathing, why food and eating and weight make me cry so often. Why should it be so very bad?

I am not my culture’s ideal, and the cultural pressure to conform to the ideal is strong. It’s not really about being healthy, though. It’s about how you look. And when the way you look is culturally equivalent to ‘won’t stop eating’, ‘no self-control’, ‘fatty’, the pressure is awful. Walking out on the street is an exercise in faked self-confidence, only because there are no holes to crawl into. Conversations about weight become agony, as other people discuss the way they feel, and you keep quiet because there’s an elephant about you-sized and -shaped in the room.

The body acceptance movement has a powerful message for people like me. The message is that you don’t have to hate yourself because of how you look. Being in a mental space that is bathed in such self-loathing is toxic and tears down your resilience. It makes you more likely to pick up on negative messages in other areas and internalise them, because you’re feeling awful anyway. It destroys your self-confidence not just about how you look, but about how competent you are in other areas. It twists your thinking in harmful ways.

Accepting yourself doesn’t have to mean that you don’t want to change. It means that you can live without beating yourself up all the time. It means saying ‘what I am is ok. I am not inherently a failure or bad in some way because I’m fat/have a stutter/get panic attacks/whatever. I can work on the parts of me that I want to change, while still being ok with who I am’.

I am not ok with what I am. I feel it when people take a swipe at fat people. It eats away inside me knowing that I have friends who must look down on me for being fat. I live in hope that one day I can be more acceptable to society, because in my mind then I can be more acceptable to myself.

I know that these thoughts are unhelpful and unhealthy, and I want to try and change them. Building myself up is hard, though, when everything the world throws at me wants to tear me down.

Depressed brains are jerks

So you see a post on social media, tagging a bunch of your friends but not you. It’s a group thing, but they’re not deliberately excluding you. You just weren’t around much, or weren’t there at the time, or whatever. It’s just a bunch of your friends having a group smile over something. You smile and scroll on.

Or, if you’re prone to depression, it weighs on you. They don’t want you around, your depressed brain says. You’re not really part of the group. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you’re just not one of them. It doesn’t matter what they say, you can tell that it’s just words to cover up the fact that they just don’t like you that much.

Depressed brains are jerks. They lie to you, all the time. Even when you’re ‘well’, they taunt you with this kind of garbage. Even if you’re well enough to know that it’s not true, the thoughts come anyway, and you have to actively deal with them in various ways, to stop yourself sinking back into depression.

Depressed brains are jerks. They steal away your peace of mind in favour of whatever turmoil they can conjure up. They affect every part of your life – these kind of thoughts come up around work, home life, friendships and family relationships, anything and everything gets caught up. It gets exhausting actively fighting off these thoughts when they infect your entire world.

Depressed brains are jerks.

Body shaming, part 1367248843221

toothpaste

This photo came across my Facebook feed today, with the caption “When you press realy [sic] hard to get that last bit of toothpaste.” My response? “Ahahahaha I get it! It’s funny because she doesn’t have a nice body”

The kind of humour that relies on mocking the physical attributes of others is just sad. It’s ‘punching down’ – picking on the little guy. You can go after all sorts of people in more powerful positions and be pretty funny, but picking on someone due to something outside of their control, while giving them no right of reply, is so wrong. It’s not funny. It’s nasty.

Love can be tough, but friendship lasts forever

I am afraid that I’m calling bullshit on half of this one. Yes, love is hard. Really hard sometimes. But friendship doesn’t always last forever.

The context I saw this in was a girl who had just broken up with her boyfriend, calling her best friend for help. Her best friend appears and comforts her. All in all a pretty average comic strip. It was captioned with the above title.

Friends, even best friends, don’t always last forever. People drift apart and together again, rifts form, both serious and silly, because life ebbs and flows like that. It’s just the way life works, and trying to cling on to a friend that’s moving in a different direction is silly.

The comic implies that love doesn’t last forever, that it can be tough, and that it sometimes doesn’t work out. Why would anyone think that friendship is any different? You have to work at it and put effort into it in order for it to work, and sometimes it doesn’t no matter how hard you try. Sometimes it breaks up for no reason and you’re left crying to your boyfriend that you just don’t know what went wrong.

Don’t be realistic about love and then paint a rosy view of friendship. They’re both forms of close relationships, and there are strong similarities between the two.