The stage is dark. The curtains have just been raised. There we are. An echoing thump jolts our heart to full alertness. Standing there completely alone, you are not aware of me. I’m not aware of you. We are not aware of us. The blinding light seems to amplify our thumping chest. Sweat drips down our forehead. The sound of the plummeting moisture seems to be amplified. Our voice – there is no sound. An inaudible squeak. Suddenly, the light in the dark auditorium is switched on.
We can see the audience. But there is no one there. There is no we. I am alone. And no one cares that I’m afraid. No one saw the blunder. Witnessed only by the light, which passed me no judgment.
Social Media seems to have amplified, those who can see our mistakes. The other day a thought passed through my mind. What if that post goes viral? It certainly had all the makings of a viral post, and for a second my heart jolted into full alertness. And in that moment I knew. The post won’t go viral. Not only does my blog not have that kind of traction, but I’m not ready. Not my writing is not ready. I’m not. And I’m also not saying my writing is flawless, cause it is defiantly flawed, but it’s not horrid either. I took a deep breath and relaxed.
It never ceases to disgust me, what kind of poison goes virtually viral, these days – especially in these parts. Children being abused by their Nanny – caught on a Nanny cam. A drunk young woman … I’m not even going to finish that sentence. What’s even more disturbing is the reaction people have. The way we blame and shame. We judge as if we were flawless. Perhaps my content just does not have that shock factor. But if something did go viral, I know there’d be trolls that come knocking.
The other day a white lady posted something on Facebook. I only mention her skin-color because it is pivotal to the story. I’ll call a spade a spade and not call her Caucasian. While she certainly is Caucasian, here we’d refer to her as a white lady. Apartheid was still within my lifetime. Some of my peers can still remember the UNO coming to their class declaring, “everyone is now equal”.
The white lady posted something on Facebook which caused a big up-stir. In a status update, she mentioned that she had just witnessed a black man taking a white person’s dog for a walk. i.e. She thought this dog to be stolen. She put on her number so that anybody who was missing this dog could ask for more information. I never saw this post myself, but it was big in our local headlines.
Obviously, the first question to ask would be, how does she know the dog belonged to a white person?
Here’s the thing – she never meant to hurt anybody or make such a racist remark. She was guilty of ignorance only and perhaps having experienced something traumatic.
What went viral, was not her Facebook post – it was the recorded call a woman made to her. The other woman who had a British type of accent, called the white lady to ask about the dog. Firstly the British accent woman asked the white woman, how she knew the dog belonged to a white person. When the latter responded that one could simply see it, in that the dog seemed well cared for. The British accent woman referred to the “missing” dog as a Bitch throughout the conversation and ended the call by calling the white woman a Bitch. Honestly, she was very mean and seemed only to want to ridicule the white woman. Goal achieved. Everyone was laughing. The white woman later needed to switch off her phone due to all the harassment she was receiving.
Online bullying at it’s best!
If you read the article in the newspaper, you’d find out why the white woman made such an ignorant post. At one point, some of her pet dogs were stolen. They only found the paws of these animals – whom she assumed had been eaten. Still no sympathy?
Yes, I hear you. We should be sympathetic to the people who have not enough food and thus eat dogs and cats. Poverty, it is a huge problem. But can you spare no sympathy for this woman, who happens to be married to a colored man (that’s someone of mixed heritage)?
In the newspaper article, the white lady apologized for her blunder. I doubt anyone was listening or reading for that matter. The article, after all, did not go viral. Only the phone call was broadcast to everyone—thanks to WhatsApp.
Which brings me back to the spotlight fever. What are we shining the light on? Sometimes an issue is much larger than the one part we highlight.
In my example, there were many issues. I mentioned: poverty, racism, online bullying, ignorance and a lack of general empathy. Depending on our own life experiences, we may have focused on only one of these. We may have been enraged at the white woman’s audacity. How could she think, people of a dark skin tone can’t take good care of their pets? It served her right to be treated by the British accent lady like that. It served her right, to be harassed. She should be, belittled for her mistake.
Or perhaps like me, you saw the lack of empathy people have shown. And you hope to all that is good, the spotlight which accentuates all your flaws, never falls on you. Just be careful what you say.
I was so afraid to even use the terms “white lady” & “black man”, even though they fit the frame of this story. Obviously, I still live in a world with many racial divides. I tend to see the cultural differences as beautiful, something to be proud of. Treat everyone with respect, is the kind of value I try to model to my children. However, in this world, you need to be politically correct – always. Or rather just keep your mouth shut.
What gives you the right to speak? Except for the light. It demanded something more than an inaudible squeak.
*above images credit to pixabay
About the Author
Sarina often sat on the peaks of the dunes of Southern Africa watching the ocean tide drift in. A daydreamer, often dreaming up stories for lands somewhere over the rainbow. She is a mother, a wife, a blogger and an overall creative spirit. Above all, she is a human being.
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5 thoughts on “Spotlight fever”
I admire your courage and honesty in this post. I agree, reactions to bits and pieces online and in the news can be so very mean-spirited. I even read one conversation recently where a commenter told the writer that she should take cyanide. I do believe,mthough, that the white woman’s comments belied not only ignorance but deep-seated racist preconceptions, which needed to be called out … but perhaps in a more private and educational way. That would have truly made a difference.
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Oh for sure. Here’s the thing, coming from a country where Apartheid is still fresh in the Memory if many, many of us have deep seated racist preconceptions. I am lucky in that some of the people I work with will point me in the right direction when I have a wrong way of thinking.
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I think that many people can be too quick to judge other people online and make own their individual opinions the focus of the comment/argument without considering all of the facts before passing their judgement, which is usually based on their own personal rage.
Sometimes the facts will not make what has been done any better but will help to frame things better or put them into context and explain the reasons behind the other person’s actions more clearly. We could all do with being more mindful of situations and trying to see things from the viewpoint of other people first and take a carefully nuanced view, rather than pouncing on one set of emotions and riding that train for all it is worth. I appreciate the level of context you have infused into this article too to highlight this common problem.
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