Sometimes I wonder if it matters

If I remain trivially uninvolved in world efforts to say stop the sale of ivory globally to protect elephants, raise money to find cures for cancer or AIDS or stop Ebola, to fund money for water projects in Africa, stop wars in the Middle East, or any other global focus project.

Sometimes I wonder why I even care if *i* matter

I wonder what or where my obsession with my specific actions somehow mattering or making a difference truly comes from. Sure I’ve done research regarding psychology and it’s understanding of validation and worth, sure maybe I can intellectually find a grasp as to why. But where I get stuck is that I know for myself I have stories that play in my head when I think of my voice not being heard or my actions not mattering. I can recount stories in my head of experiences where my voice clearly should have been taken into account, I should have been listened too but I was not heard. I may have been neglected or ignored or deemed unimportant. So am I being spurred to want to feel important based on past hurt?

What am I getting at here?

What I’m trying to get at, is what I see getting in the way in so many Facebook debates where people get emotionally invested and involved in matters that lie far outside their own two hands. They may do research on the issue, they may be experts, the may know some, or they may know nothing at all. They get involved, they show their involvement, and sometimes they become involved in a very public debate and conflict because of it. I worry that for many, probably myself included, we attach past-hurt, old narratives and reasons for needing our voices to matter to new issues and global phenomena that have popularized in a new social-media activism.

In many helpful ways social media has allowed a new avenue to spread awareness and spur action for widespread causes. Social injustice, conservation efforts, political policies, I could name groups of topics for hours and go on and on about the way in which this new passive-activism has spread to all types of issues. I won’t though.

Did she just say social-media activism? Yea, I did.

Because what I became aware of within myself, and what I am curious about with others experience, is getting hurt in the process. I am notorious for hating change. I have been working on updating my very outdated perception of myself for almost four years now (yes I’m 23 and yes it’s a long story). I attach myself emotionally to causes I am passionate about.

Sometimes I know enough and I am involved enough to hold my ground and be an appropriate person to spread awareness surrounding the issue. For those of you who know me, my example would be femoralacetabular impingement (FAI) aka the birth defect that has caused me to have three surgeries. I’m knowledgeable, I’m affected, and I am vocal surrounding my activism about the issue.

Other times I am passionate about an issue, such as say, African American treatment within American society and by law enforcement. I know some, not an expert and by no means, am I as involved in the activism as others. But I care about the issue. A lot. But I often find myself being hurt by others opinions and dismissal of my voice (which granted depending on the situation is valid, but race politics and the power of who is speaking on the issue is a whole different layer to this conversation). But I’m hurt for another reason besides a general need to feel validation and importance in my life. I have other areas in which I feel those things, other conversations, other topics. I see myself projecting my past and my past hurt onto almost each and every issue in which I’m passionate about.

That isn’t fair. It’s not fair to me, those I’m discussing the issues with, and those who are affected by the issue.

So what I guess I’m trying to build discussion and awareness around, is our mental health and stories that we carry with us in this new age of social-media activism.

Questions for all to ponder

  • What stance do I take on social media regarding hot topic issues and activism?
  • Do I engage in any social media activism?
  • In what ways and issues do I find myself invested in?
  • What reasons do I think I am choosing to be involved in these issues and debates?
  • What stories from my past could be urging me to speak up or look to feel validated and/or important?
  • Do I need to engage in these discussions?
  • And the list goes on….