Monday, December 28, 2015

Ten Things We Should Stop Doing in 2016

A few years ago now, I wrote a post very similar to what I'm envisioning for this one. A post full of all the things that people should stop doing in the new year.

It's that time again, though the list from last time could bear a revisit. If you haven't already read it, or would like to again, you can find it here. It had good things like "stop talking. start listening" and "stop making judgments based on hypotheticals".

I fully expect this one to catch me some heat. Posts like this one usually do.

Anyhow, off we go.

1. We should stop being afraid.
There is a troubling trend in our society right now, one that seems to be working magnificently for some politicians (or wannabe politicians). It is this: tap into whatever deep rooted fear people have, focus disproportionate amounts of energy on it, and convince people to make decisions based on those fears, regardless of whether or not that fear is grounded in anything legitimate or not. There are people who are profiting from that fear. There is someone attempting to win the Presidency relying on the fear. Don't let them.

2. We should stop taking things personally.

I've said this before and I'll say it again - it's not about you. It's not about me, either. If there is any lesson I've learned in this lifetime more than the others, it's this one. One person's choices, actions, words, decisions almost never have anything to do with other people. Almost never. That doesn't, by the way, mean that those choices, actions, words or decisions don't affect other people, for they almost certainly will. It just means that people do what they do for their own reasons. It really isn't about you. Honest.

3. We should stop blaming victims.

Just in general, we should do this. Rape isn't about what a woman is wearing, child abuse isn't some slippery slope where children at one point deserve what is coming to them, 12 year old boys in parks gunned down within seconds of police rolling up aren't to blame for their deaths. Hold the people who make decisions to harm others accountable. Stop making excuses. Period.

4. We should stop policing women's bodies.

Just today a friend asked if drug testing in pregnancy is required everywhere. Sadly, it is becoming more and more common for states to pass laws stripping women of even the most basic rights just because they happen to be gestating. We seem to have no issues supporting patient autonomy in any other area, but pregnant women have fewer and fewer rights with time. It isn't just the pregnant women either. It's about limiting access to birth control options, about refusing funding for IUD programs proven to cut the teen birth rate in half, about girls being sent home for wearing leggings at school, shamed for being a distraction to the boys in a class just because they have bodies, women being told to cover up while nursing while people compare it to defecation.

5. We should stop being hypocrites.

If you want to enjoy a world where you can post whatever you want on social media, then demand that the rest of the world either refrain from commenting or agree, lest you defriend them immediately, then you sure as hell shouldn't be trolling other people's pages and entering comment wars. If something offends you, either engage it and deal with people engaging you or scroll on by. You can't have it both ways, and if you only ever surround yourself with people who agree with you, you'll never learn where other people are coming from, you'll never see the world through someone else's eyes and you'll never be forced to see the flaws in your own logic. There's a damn good reason that I encourage respectful discussion of controversial issues on my page. I want to know not just what you think, but why.

6. We should stop calling each other names.

The internet has become a place where people hide behind their keyboards, simultaneously calling anyone who disagrees with them a bully and often acting like one themselves. If you automatically label anyone an idiot (or use any one of the long long long list of names I've seen people called) just because of their opinions, no one is going to take you seriously. No one. Respect goes a long way.

7. We should stop assuming the worst about people and instead have compassion.
That parent with the screaming child in the grocery store? That young mother with 6 kids who look like they must have different fathers? That woman in the headscarf on the street? The homeless man on the corner? The woman who commits suicide? The child who is habitually ditching school? The bully making life hell for someone else?

Got some news for you all...there’s more to their story than whatever you see in the small seconds you observe them. That parent might be dealing with a child on sensory overload. That young mother might be fostering her friend’s children, or they may all be hers and they may all have different fathers and it’s not your business to comment on it either way. The woman in the headscarf might be Muslim, she might not be. It’s none of your concern. The homeless man has a story long before this day. He sees you. See him. The woman who commits suicide might have battled demons in her head for seconds or decades and you have no idea what led her to this place. The bully has, in all likelihood, first been a victim. Probably still is.

Snap judgments, assumptions, snide comments and rude remarks, online chiding of “I would nevers…”, they do no one any good. They may make you feel better. Bigger, stronger, more stable, whatever...but only for a moment. Compassion gets your further in life. It gets us all further.

8. We should all be more mindful of what we say.

This one got me monologuing in the shower today. I was musing aloud to my naked self, as I’m oft to do, about whether it’s hypocritical for me personally to ask others to be considerate of the world around them when I haven’t always been that way myself, when I still struggle at times even now. I don’t think it is. I don’t think it is because people necessarily change as we get older. We evolve, hopefully. We learn better, so we do better.

What I mean by asking that we should all be more mindful of what we say is that we should all take a moment to pause, run whatever is about to come out of our mouths (or keyboards) through our minds for a half a second, and consider what someone else would hear or read. Think about what we put out there into the world from the perspective of someone, anyone else but ourselves.

Of course doing this requires privilege checking. (told ya this one was going to ruffle some feathers...I'm here to make you uncomfortable...)

We cannot control what other people do with what we say, we cannot dictate the set of eyes that they see the world with or the ears they hear things we say with. We cannot alter how they twist our words, what they take personally.

We can, however, do our best to mean what we say before we say it.

9. We should stop competing with one another, and we should absolutely stop shaming each other when we feel like we can't compete.

Oh, the internet. So fun.

I've seen so many of my friends post a birthday cake they made or a gorgeous posed photo of their family or a pregnancy announcement or an album of vacation pictures...only to see someone in the comments come along and shit on their happiness, make it about them, compare this person's life to their own, use the post as some vessel to unload their personal insecurities. Life isn't a contest. Motherhood isn't a contest. None of us are going to win, and none of us are losers either. We all have things we kick ass at doing, we all suck miserably at other things. Personally, I'm rooting for us all. Most people online only ever share the good stuff, which seems to have warped an entire generation's self worth. I try to keep it real and share the good and bad, which...not surprisingly...has led some people to accuse me of being negative or pessimistic. I am those things sometimes. I'm also oozing with happiness sometimes.

10. We should stop believing anything blindly. Ask questions instead.

I truly believe that skepticism is a good thing. Questions are good things. Doubt is important. Blind faith in anything can be dangerous, especially if it's something that resides online. (No, Zuckerberg isn't going to give you stock, and no you shouldn't share that post just in case.)

Don't blindly share things. Do a little research first. Check sources. Check the credibility of those sources.

Ask where the data comes from. Ask who funded the study. Ask why they wanted the study done. Ask who tried to quash the results, or who skewed the data. Ask who made it impossible for the research to be done in the first place. Ask who stands to profit from the outcome. Ask who controls the information. Ask who writes the history books. Ask who writes the laws and who is funneling them cash. Ask who. Ask why. Ask how.

Question everything.

Teach your kids to question everything.

And then teach them to go find the answers themselves.

Happy New Year, Hive.


Let's do this.


  1. Yes! Especially #10 - I see so many people blindly believing shit just because it's on facebook, so it HAS TO BE true...then consequentially filling my newsfeed with it because they have the urge to share EVERYTHING. Grrrr......

    1. Well, you know...just in case. LOL

    2. Well..if means Zuckerberg is giving away should totally share the s#!t out of that....just in case, right? LOL!


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