During the recent difficult time of civil unrest, which of course put emotions on high, I responded to a picture posted on Linkedin.
The photo was one of a police officer, and included the caption
“Not in the News: Today, 1 million cops flawlessly protected you”.
I responded. I didn’t have to, and heard the voices of authority figures of the past saying not to, just leave it alone. But then I heard my own voice in my head, that said no, I have my own right to my opinion, reaction, and the right to respond.
My comment was:
“Also not in the news: millions of other people doing the job they chose and are paid to do.”
Needless to say my response garnered quite a bit of response, much of which was not pleasant. But my response was not intended to garner pleasantries or approval. I responded because it was a gut reaction, and despite years of voices encouraging me to be silent and stand in the background, under the guise of “taking the higher road” and not to engage, I have a right and a responsibility to use my voice. As the responses came in, I became more focused on the reactions than on my own voice.
As anyone who does not have their head under a rock knows, the movement #BlackLivesMatter has infuriated many, and showing any support publicly to this instantly evokes the response that #AllLivesMatter. In the minds of far too many people it is apparently not possible to want police offers to follow the law and still support police officers overall. It’s a concept that utterly confuses me, and I wanted to test it out using less obvious means, to see if the phrase is what causes the issue, or the underlying bias is at play.
At no point in the discussions that I engaged in ever did I use the phrase #BlackLivesMatter. But what I found was even suggesting that other people do the job they have chosen to do, willingly, and are paid to do, and therefore anyone could expect them to actually do the job, if they aren’t police officers, they are not worthy of acknowledgement.
It was astonishing. So many people respond to the #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter, claiming it’s racist. But when it is initiated the other way, by noting in support that yes, people doing their job is not something that really needs to be called out and praised for doing what is expected, is misguided and biased, and clearly against police officers.
Those commenting on the thread jumped to conclusions, and I watched, occasionally stepping in to make a comment, to clarify their their assignment of intent and statements they decided I made, but hadn’t. For the most part, they continued one-sided discussions with their own interpretations and escalations in the absence of responses.
As expected, it became somewhat unhinged, at least by the standards of a professional networking platform.
Admittedly I used the word mansplain at one point, assuming it would be an obvious troll. Again, shocking, I was mansplained to, that I had no business calling someone a misogynist (I didn’t), and was conveniently offered the ability to backtrack from my statement if I so chose. The mansplainer walked right through the open door, even though it was labeled.
It was an interesting as it turned into an unofficial social experiment, to watch people comment themselves into a frenzy. But in the end, it was disturbing, to see this manufactured division that exists because people talk to themselves, based on their own perspectives and assumptions, without even reading the comments in front of them. It’s disturbing, actually. Comment threads are different than conversations, where you can mishear someone and use that as an excuse. In threads, it’s still there, and it’s even more clear that you simply chose to not read what was actually said, and instead insert your own biases.
I’ve done it myself, in interpreting the entire experience.
So bring on the mansplaining, to set me right.