The Message that The Internet is Forever…

While speaking at a Listen to Your Mother Event,  I met a mother whose middle son died by suicide. She bravely shared about how his life was cut short because of two bad decisions. 

When a picture he shared privately, became public (after being tormented with the possibility for no one knows how long) he decided that humiliation was more than he could bear. His life ended at aged 15. 

How many times have we told our children, “The internet is forever.” & “You can’t take it back.”

This tragedy brought to me the realization we must also tell our children: “And yet, nothing on the internet is worth dying for.”

Are we teaching our children: nothing on the internet is worth dying for? Click To Tweet

**I mean we as a community need to better support and teach OUR children. We need to support this family and every family by learning, loving, teaching, preventing more losses, which are too often and too important to continue losing. 

When it comes to sharing online…sigh, so much.

 The philosophy, “When you know better, do better,” applies as much to online sharing as any other aspect of life. Eight years ago at this time, the extent of my online “presence” was…a chat in an industry forum and writer’s sites.

Over the last five years I’ve developed a presence on Facebook that has included admin-ing up to 10 pages, plus my own “profile.” I joined Twitter in 2013 and embraced the short form discussions. I went from “no cameras allowed’ parties to sharing Marcus’ own videos on public settings.

Yet, it still all scares the hell out of me while I’m learning the needs of the community we hope to support and the concerns, barriers, and language that evolves as right and appropriate.

Storytelling As Advocacy

Marcus and I present “Storytelling as Advocacy” session and, of course, that includes information about sharing stories online. Whether blog, social media, articles, fiction or non-fiction, our combined, stories online are documenting history in real time by more people than have ever publicly shared their worlds before. This combination and diversity of voices can, and I hope will, create social awareness and positive change towards more accepting, open, and accommodating societies at an exponentially increased rate because of the sheer humanity of these connections. Connections promote organic and lasting change

There are many ways and forums that stories, including your story, can be shared. The first, easiest, most obvious is social media. There are many fears that drive a decision to not do this – and these are real and should be considered.

The Cons

Exploitation. Misunderstanding. Manipulation. Judgment.

Also, who has the right to tell whose story? Can stories cause harm? Can sharing be misunderstood? Can posts, even well-intentioned, create damage?

Yes. Yes to all of this. No matter what – all of those will be possible. Consider these three points:

1) If your writing and story involves more than you: prioritize assent, privacy and dignity considerations  in your disclosure of any story involving another person. This article: “Parents Of Children With Disabilities: Are We Speaking With Or For A Community?” by Melissa Stoltz published on Two Thirds of the Planet . She shared good points and questions to consider before you hit publish on a post.

2) In that article she mentions the terms ableism and inspiration porn, if you are not familiar with these concepts, become familiar with them and be cognizant of them in your words and your sharing.

3) Make sure you are telling your own story and not camouflaging it as anyone else’s and then, do your best. Wait – maybe that was four. Well no one’s perfect and that’s worth considering, too.

The Pros

Connections. #Truth. Get help. Give Help.

Let me give you recent example – maybe you saw it. Robb Scott is a dad who sat in his car after hearing strangers in a store speak about Ds in a derogatory and honestly uninformed way. He didn’t say anything in the store and then, once in his car, he self videoed his response.

It is honest. It is moving. It has since had hundreds of thousands of views and been covered by major news outlets around the world.  Can any or all of previous Cons happen in response to Robb’s video? Yes, and probably have to some degree.

But the pros are this: He said what many other people needed to hear. Perhaps they are other parents who understand and feel he said it “best,” perhaps they are strangers who don’t really know anyone with Down syndrome and could learn from this perspective. Whatever the mix of his reach – his truth made an impact and spread throughout social media. 

It is said we cannot make great change in this world, only small changes with great love. This is a really good example of that. He spoke from the heart and that great love rippled around the world. 

day1For us, I feared FEARED, FB, and frankly still do, but there were so few healthy adults with Ds on the interwebs – I decided that Marcus and I needed to be “out there.” We are still learning, but we have found connections and there have been cases of folks reaching out and sharing how Marcus’ story has impacted them, or someone they love. I have had occasion to connect people with specific  information or resources they need.

Small changes are great changes to the people they affect. So that’s what I say about that.

Most of social networking is Micro-stories. Snippets of real life and day to day and they have a place and they matter.

In summary, When it comes to sharing online

1) Think about what you are posting, take the implications of your words and online actions seriously.

2) Forgive yourself as you learn. Forgive me for what I do not know. Teach me. Teach yourself.

3) Weigh it out – When you can do good, do it.

When it comes to sharing online: When you can do good, do it Click To Tweet

This was originally shared years ago with my Finish the Sentence Friday friends.  Very slightly updated this year for the #LoveBlog with Bella Brita to the Social Media Prompt. How do you chose to share online and what have you learned since you started?