I’ve been angry today, tearful, deflated, calm and now tired but needing to write about this.
I’ve often bemoaned that social media makes people forget about boundaries and they remove them willy nilly and then complain when other people do it to them. This is the nature of life and it’s something nearly all of us have done; subtweets on Twitter, veiled comments on Facebook, mocking things people have posted on Facebook in the relative safety (we assume) of Twitter and, of course, some people troll.
I can be as rude as the next person. People think I’m lovely and very nice but I hate it when people ignore my boundaries and, as I‘m not very good at saying “Hey, back off buster!” I tend to feel my back against the wall and lash out. It always comes as a surprise, as much to me as the other person. Sometimes they’re totally unaware that they’ve crossed a boundary at all but then that’s them and the way they think not me. Generally though, if rudeness is a sin, then I’m going to hell in a hand basket.
The mute/unfollow/unfriend/block buttons are priceless and I do love that feeling of being able to cut somebody quickly and effectively out of my cyber life. As the target of a cyber stalker some years ago I had to wait while evidence was gathered before I could block them and perhaps I’m a little to ready to cut people out because of that experience but when it comes down to it it’s all about self-protection.
What I do find unforgiveable is the way organisations use social media as a way to put people (also known as customers/service users/taxpayer etc.) in their place. A friendly tone isn’t hard to affect and you don’t really have to mean it, nobody can see the face you pull when you’re pretending to be friendly to somebody irritating across cyber space – nobody can see and it’s harmless.
Two years ago I suggested that my local council use silent fireworks in their displays so that people still got to see something spectacular but local animals didn’t suffer. One of my cats hides under the bath and my newly arrived rescue dog barks when they hear fireworks. I’m not the only person who complains about fireworks but, for some reason the person running Twitter for the council that took my remark personally and did a soft block. A soft block is when you block someone and then unblock them so that they’re not following you. It’s a move that’s designed to irritate and it’s deliberately rude – a slap across the face in a way. The thing is that I wasn’t being sarcastic, there is such a thing as silent fireworks, there’s a company in my city that makes them and they are far more spectacular because the “bang” takes up quite a bit of space. Had they entered into meaningful tweets they would have found this out. I complained via their “Fair Comment” system and, needless to say, I’ve never heard any more of it.
Today the people that made me so dismayed were the local police. I was intimidated and scared (I don’t scare easily) by a large group of street drinkers outside an off licence yesterday evening. The shop owner shouldn’t serve them when they stay outside as it’s in a no drinking zone but they do because they are motivated financially and community comes after profit. The group had a couple of dogs which they were having problem controlling and one of the dogs almost slipped the lead that one of the drunks was holding on to.
I rang the police and, after the initial disinterested response, I was put on hold. After 17 minutes of holding on I abandoned the call. The incident hasn’t been logged via their system so therefore, in their eyes at least, it didn’t happen. I have contacted a local police officer who will do nothing about it and doesn’t actually have to since it’s considered a raised concern and not a crime. So that street is a little less safe from now on and this community has been effectively told that they don’t count.
I tweeted the police and was the response was that they were sorry I was upset but they didn’t apologise for not answering the phone or doing anything to help make the area safer. They suggested that I log it on their website which goes to the beat manager who won’t do a lot about it (as above) and so nothing is done. When I pushed them they told me what constituted a 999 call and what the 101 (non emergency number) is for. So insult added to injury.
So, what has all this got to do with mental health?
When an individual is pissy it’s easy to argue back or hit the block button writing it off as one of life’s little blips as you go. A little rant about it and it’s forgotten before you have time to turn around three time but an organisation when you, as a tax payer or customer, pay the person who’s being rude? Much different.
If there was ever a way to tell somebody that you thought that they were unimportant and, in the case of our valiant police, a bit thick then doing it on social media is the place to make it sting the most. Fight back and you’re written off as little miss angry and, if you’re really unlucky, trolled by their supporters. If you don’t fight back nothing ever changes but fighting back takes time and energy I don’t have. So I’m writing a blog and it’s not going to change anything except the way I feel. Whilst the call centre operator is effectively doing a job that is a penis extension I’m not impotent and I refuse to be treated that way. I’m choosing not to fight because their organisation make it too hard for me but other people will fight back and other people will make changes.
A few years ago I would have got angry, complained, swore, been ignored and ended up manic and very ill. Today I’m letting it go. It’s said that you have no control over people, places and things so I’m not going to try but I’m not letting them control me either.