I unabashedly love the internet. I will defend Facebook and other social media vehemently until I'm still the only one using Facebook because all the cool kids use Snapblog or whatnot. I'm active on the internet and I don't freak out too much about my pictures or my information floating around. Occasionally I make sure that you can't pull up my address using my real name (prison and all), and I do use a pseudonym on this blog. Other than that, I figure I'm just not all that interesting that someone would want to find me.
All of that is a preface to a really shitty thing that happened. We had posted a short video of one of our kids on-line. It was a totally generic adorable, slightly inappropriate video. Basically our standard fare. C was looking at it one day and noticed that it had a lot of views. Like, a lot a lot of views. And the suggested video below it looked an awful lot like ours. Hmmm.
Turns out, a VERY right leaning organization had taken our video, GROSSLY re-edited it, and was using it to support anti-immigration, pro-he who will not be named, bullshit. (Not linking because, no.) And that shit went viral. Like, hundreds of thousands of views/shares/re-links. It was bad. We immediately pulled the original down and filed copyright complaints, but there really wasn't anything that could be done. The cows were out of the barn. We made a conscious effort to not connect ourselves with it in anyway, and just tried to monitor it's progress, hoping that something else more interesting would come along soon.
I'm not proud of it, but I got a little obsessed with reading all the comments. Can I just say that as much as I love the internet, there are some really, really horrible people out there? This flies in the face of my typical world view and honestly sucks. People were calling for the search and murder of our family. They were suggesting that I should be sterilized, deported, flayed, etc. They called my child vile names and demanded that they be adopted by "good Christians," deported, or even "taken out before they grow up to be terrorists or on welfare." These are thoughts and words that came from people who probably have families and lives and people who love them.
*I wrote the beginning of this post several days ago. Then I decided that I'd let a bit more time go by before I posted it, since I want to be very, very careful that the shitty video doesn't get connected with anything that could lead back to my family. Then a bunch more stuff happened. This morning, FIFTY people were murdered in Florida. I don't even know all the details yet because I don't have the emotional energy to withstand it. FIFTY. From what I can gather, they were targeted because they were in a gay club. Fifty sons, daughters, parents, siblings, friends who are gone because of really horrible people.
So I was in church this morning. And I was reflecting on just how crappy the world seems to be. I was probably the only person near tears during a rousing rendition of Amazing Grace. But here's the thing. I am very Susie Sunshine about people's intentions. I genuinely believe that people are doing the best they know. It may be a survival technique given the type of people I'm typically surrounded by, but it's worked for me for a long time. But now I'm also thinking that there seems to be a pretty large contingent of really shitty people. People who are so close minded, or mean, or scared, or whatever, that they forget or choose to ignore basic humanity. So what does that mean for my people? My world view? How can I possibly continue to assert that people are basically good when there is so much evidence to the contrary?
This thought made me reflect on a conversation that C and I had about the kids' church camp last week. It's a huge event with hundreds of kids singing and responding and dancing. There is so much love and Jesus that it seems overwhelming at times. And some people get nervous about it. They see the responding and the dancing and their minds go to a place of suspicion. C and I were talking that over, and we were reflecting on how redeeming it is to be in a huge group of people that are motivated to reflect love, patience, and acceptance. That's what came back to me as the kids filed onto stage for the church camp wrap-up. As the kids started to clap and sing to a rock version of "This Little Light of Mine" I came back to it. There are some really shitty people in the world. They are small, and mean, and hateful. They may be scared or confused. Or maybe they're just mean.
But, BUT, there are also hundreds of millions of little lights. People who want to be good and kind and loving. People who understand that regardless of whether we all believe the same things, worship the same gods, or love the same people, we are all in this together. And our light? Our light stands a chance of going up against all the darkness. We can reflect all those things that we need to see in order to continue walking out in the world and seeing the sun.
So. I'm going to keep being Susie Sunshine, even when it seems so much easier not to. I'm going to make sure that my kids know and show love and kindness to themselves and others. I'm going to remember the Fred Rogers quote about looking for the helpers. I'm going to make it my own personal mission to inspire people to be happy and joyful. And I'm not going to stop doing the things that motivate me to do that. Let the self-aggrandizing blog posts and slightly inappropriate but ultimately adorable videos recommence!