Storify: Subtweeting People Who Aren't Doing Enough

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

Hot Take: I no longer see value in subtweeting People Who Aren't Doing Enough, in part because you are also that person.

Oh, you are probably Doing Enough on the subject you're subtweeting on, but You Weren't There for Fight #24,765. I looked. You weren't. If you weren't there for the 24,764 fights BEFORE that, maybe you're a bad ally, maybe your plate is forever Too Full. Iunno. If it bothers me that much, I'll unfollow you. Subtweeting at you and hoping you'll notice seems like an effort in unsatisfying rancor.

Not everyone can come in for every fight. Feminism stuff, trans stuff, disability stuff, fat acceptance stuff, mental illness stuff, rape stuff. Sometimes people gotta walk away for a month or a year or longer. And they shouldn't have to leave twitter to do that. They can fluff, imo. Twitter is a social networking tool. Sometimes people activist Over There and just need to Fluff Social here. That's okay.

We used to have to chill out people who said the only activism that mattered was Boots On The Street. Now it's like the opposite. Some people activist by Boots On The Street. Some people activist on Twitter. Some people activist by Staying Alive and Self-Caring. Social justice was created to serve humanity. Humanity was not created to serve social justice. My 2 cents, do as ye will.

I will add that I do not understand the idea that all fights need 100% participation. That seems untenable to me. If the majority of a community is talking about XYZ, then it seems reasonable for 5% of that community to sit on the bench and rest. No community is going to be able to 100% all the fights. Heck, 100%ing even one of the fights is enormous pressure. When we get 100% participation on a fight, do we open up the secret New Game+ ending? I don't get it, to be honest.

What I'm trying to say, for me: If I'm going in on a thing and you need to rest this one out, I believe you. Do what you need to do. ~your mileage may vary~

I want to talk about this more today: I am increasingly VERY uncomfortable with pressuring people for weighing in on the Issue Of The Hour RIGHT NOW. This creates a situation where the first, loudest, most insistent take is the one that dominates the narrative and others "must" repeat it.

In a case where a few disability activists are (wrongly, in my opinion) going after a black woman for her hashtag, that promotes bullying. "IF YOU DON'T SUPPORT US RIGHT NOW, YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT DISABILITY ACTIVISM" is a way of making sure the dominant take stays dominant. That situation happened at night. The next morning, I and several other disability activists caught up on the situation and spoke up. We needed time to catch up and register a dissent. Time to inject nuance and point out that this "callout" was way not okay to us.

I very much understand the desire to have everyone participate RIGHT NOW, but we must understand that bullying DOES happen in our community. To someone walking in mid-conversation, they need time to determine whether this is bullying or a valid callout. They deserve that time. I don't WANT a community where people mindlessly retweet my thoughts on disability because they feel they have to repeat the first loud voice.

If I call something out, I want people to read and think and come to their own decision. I might be wrong! I might have missed something! And I have to understand that thinking take time. This demand for "internet immediacy" is not conducive to thoughtful conversation. People are allowed to be silent. They're allowed to feel out of their lane. They're allowed to not want to add to a pile-on. People are allowed to be absent. They're allowed to feel like a subject is too close to home. They're allowed to be uncomfortable.

I want to tell a story about my abusive marriage. Trigger warnings for physical abuse follow.

My ex-husband used to hit and slap me around the face and head. Sometimes without warning, sometimes in arguments. I am now very uncomfortable around (valid!) anger. I also used to instinctively flinch when my boyfriend raised his hand. My ex-boyfriend would become angry when I flinched. HE hadn't hit me. He resented the implication that he would. "Stop fucking DOING that!" he yelled one day after I flinched during an innocent hand-raise. That did not help.

My boyfriend wasn't doing anything wrong by raising his hand to stretch or gesticulate while talking or to reach for things! He wasn't a BAD guy for raising his hand. But I'd been damaged and mistreated such that I had a bodily reaction I couldn't control. If you're yelling at people who can't be around anger and callouts because of past trauma? You're being my ex-boyfriend, I'm sorry.

I hate that I've been terrorized so much that certain displays of anger trigger me. IT IS NOT FUN. But someone made me that way. Yelling at me or anyone else that we *must* be okay with a thing is like yelling at me that I need to not flinch when a hand comes up. The hand is valid! The anger is valid! But yelling at people to overcome their past trauma doesn't work. The trauma is there.

Now, yeah, not everyone who disappears during callouts has a past history with abusers. But... how do we know which ones? You don't have to LIKE someone or think they're a good ally. You can mute, unfollow, ignore. Unperson in your mind. Does not exist. But going after people for a thing that many abuse victims struggle with, not knowing their past? We risk harming folks that way. I don't think it's worth the risk of harming a survivor to call out an absent non-ally for non-participation. Ymmv.

I talk about my abuse a lot here. But it costs me. I'm gonna cry later after having to dredge all this up. Don't force people to disclose. Disclosure has an emotional cost. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pay mine by crying in the bathroom for a bit.

Incidentally, there is a happy end to that story. My current husband, whilst still in boyfriend-status, once came home without my hearing him. Despite the fact that it was the middle of the DAY and I could SEE him clearly, my brain took over and I triggered. I fell on the ground and started scrambling backwards on my hands while crying and screaming not to hurt me. I was in a panic.

THAT boyfriend (now husband) reacted with kindness and compassion. He was concerned FOR me, rather than being affronted. He recognized that my trauma wasn't some choice I was making to besmirch his honor as a Nice Guy. He spoke gently to me until the trigger passed, then held me while I cried and apologized (!!!!) profusely for scaring me. Which was especially sweet because he'd done nothing wrong. But he still wanted me to know he didn't blame me.

So in ending, please be kind to survivors and recognize that you just don't know who is and isn't. There are a LOT of us. If you're pressuring people to pile on, please ask whether you'd do this to them if you knew they had similar stories to mine. TL; DR: I try not to "rawr the scary magic internet" because technology is great, but demands for Immediate Responses = Not Good. Stop.

Addendum to this thread, as someone has reminded me in my mentions: Mental illness is real.

I have a real, actual anxiety disorder. When the anxiety spikes, I NEED time to calm down and process it. That need can take the form of "walking away" or "posting fluffy animals". Both appear like I'm not engaging with the Issue. And, well, I'm NOT engaging with the Issue because I need time to back off the anxiety. Until then, I will NOT be productive on the Issue.

I have had people come at me in my mentions and I've said I need some space to think before I can continue the conversation. "NO YOU HAVE TO AGREE WITH ME RIGHT NOW OR ELSE" doesn't -work- on me. Because I am mentally ill. I feel like I need to repeat that: I am mentally ill. I have a mental illness. My mental is ill-like. I am mentally ill. So when someone is saying they need processing time... maybe give them processing time because mental illness is real? My 2 cents.

I do not feel like "I cannot engage on this issue at this moment" is a huge concession to make for someone's mental illness. And, again, someone shouldn't have to daily disclose or be a mental illness capital-A activist to HAVE a mental illness. That is obliging mentally ill people to jump through hoops for accommodation. Please do not do that.

I've seen people say that if you only bring up your mental illness as an excuse, then that's wrong/bad. What? NO, REALLY, WHAT????? Do you realize how often I've had that thrown at me in facespace? "Ana, you only talk about your scoliosis when you don't want to attend?" Like I'm supposed to talk about my scoliosis casually in conversation to "outweigh" the times I "use it as an excuse" to not do a thing?? "This is a delicious mocha yogurt and also I am here at this yogurt shop despite having scoliosis!" Yeah, that'd go over so well.

People are allowed to only bring up their illness when they're obliged to. They aren't obligated to activist to earn their disability badge. Please don't do that. Please don't be my asshole family members. Please don't do that. You don't owe anyone your voice or attention. They don't own you their voice or attention. It goes both ways.

If someone says "I choose not to talk about this right now", I urge you to unfollow or mute or block rather than harassing them for it. Because (a) harassment is bad and (b) you're going to catch a lot of mentally ill abuse victims in that net there. The end. Sorry about the soapbox. I just have a LOT of feels on my disability and survivorship. Crying, jagged, hurty, sad feelings. Sorry.


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