You speak for you, I speak for me

The internet is where I found My People. I found the ones happy to communicate via text and not over the phone. The ones more comfortable with blogging their feelings than having in-person heart-to-hearts. I found a best friend, and people with whom I can commiserate. I found support, love, and education here. This world has been so important to me, I’m so thankful for what the internet opened up for me.

What I’ve also found is an rotten underbelly, filled with people who can’t possibly exist in real life the way they do online. Can they? Is it because they’re posting online that they drop all social propriety?

Cruel comments left on blogs, racist, ignorant, and otherwise disgusting feelings laid out openly in Facebook groups. Hideous tweets.

It just isn’t possible that people who behave this way online think it’s socially acceptable. Who are these people who take the time to leave aggressive comments on blogs? Who are these people who name-call and bully? Who are these people who speak passionately but so ignorantly for groups to which they belong? Starting a sentence with “As a…” has become the gateway to speaking on behalf of groups of people I don’t think necessarily want us speaking for them.

“As an adoptive mother, I find that offensive!”
“As the child of an alcoholic, I’m telling you that’s wrong.”
“As a former victim, I can tell you we all feel this way.”
“As a mom to two kids under 3, I can tell you you’re crazy.”

These are all things I’ve read in the past week, and as a reader, I can tell you they don’t inspire any confidence in me when these people speak for their groups.

As a woman, I speak for myself and my own experiences. I have found other women who agree with my ideas, and many who do not. Regardless, I respect all, and expect the same in return.

As a mom, I speak for myself and my family. Sometimes we’ll agree on parenting methods and sometimes we won’t, but that doesn’t mean either of us is in the wrong, but I certainly do not speak for other mothers and do not want them speaking for me.

As an adoptee, I speak about my own experiences, opinions and beliefs, not for any other adoptees. Whether our experiences are the same or not, our feelings, reactions and beliefs are valid but this doesn’t make them universal.

As a parent to an allergic child, I speak only for him. I seek to protect him not at the risk of inconveniencing someone else, but in harmony with my intention to protect other children, too. I come to the world with requests from a good heart, hoping others know I would never hesitate to do the same for them.

As a friend, I speak for myself. I am fiercely loyal and loving, but speak for nobody but myself. My friends are their own people and we do not have to become homogeneous to enjoy each other’s company.

As one-half of a married couple, I speak for myself, not my husband. I am not his keeper, nor he mine. We are free to live our lives together as individuals and I expect him to fulfill his dreams and reach his goals just as I expect for myself.

As a neighbour, I speak on behalf of myself, not those who live around me. As a Canadian, for myself.

There is no army behind my words, no team to back me up. My words are my own and are borne from my own experiences only. You speak for you, I’ll speak for me, thanks.



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21 thoughts on “You speak for you, I speak for me

  1. One of my friends said she watched some shit conversation go down on youtube and someone wrote: “Keep fighting, keyboard warrior.”

    Awesome, right?
    Keyboard warrior. That’s how people are…behind their keyboards. ICK.

    1. Haha, I love that. Keyboard warrior. So easy to be that way sitting safely behind a monitor.

  2. I’m a warrior, but not an online one. Seriously, that stuff makes me tired. Wish I had a virtual “booth” to give away back scratchers, Valium and the Serenity Prayer (or something like that that’s apolitical, atheist and non-offensive).
    Hope your tummy’s better. The virtual world can be an anxious one.

    1. Thanks, Pam, we’re all better over here now.

      The online world is definitely a strange, anxious place.

  3. Hmm, I find myself stopping for a few seconds to contemplate this post. My knee jerk reaction is to point out that many people use their experiences to justify what they are about to say, as a reference point to show where they are coming from. It is relevant to a discussion on HIV rights that I have worked in the sector and have some nuanced understanding of an issue or that I am a beer guy when talking about brews.

    But I am anti post modernist and sometimes this relativistic position drives me mad. There are some issues that allow for a wide latitude of opinions. Child rearing is a good one. I am a parent. I could be an abusive parent or an absent parent or the best one of the bunch. Just by the ability to procreate doesn’t give me any more authority than any other parent. When this categorization is used to claim privilege, it can fail. Only if the category denotes expertise, should it matter.

    I guess, for me, it depends if someone is using the POV as a cudgel rather than an explanation then it bothers me. A disarming way of dealing with a lot of these people is to point out other categories that may not work well in their definition. Imagine me starting out each argument with ‘As a white male person’ rather than ‘As a person working for a Non-Profit’ or ‘As a parent’…

    Anyways, my two befuddled cents on the use of speaking on behalf of someone versus this is where I am coming from. Good post.

    1. I completely agree with you, actually. And after hitting submit on the post, and having thought more about it, there are absolutely times when, “As a…” is acceptable (to me). I guess what I mean is that in general it’s used to connote expertise in areas where it’s just too broad a subject for that to work, like you’ve mentioned.

      In any case, there are a number of things about which I know a great deal, yet I’d never claim to be the expert or only correct voice, all the same. And I don’t like the idea of speaking for others who have checked off the same life boxes, or having them speak for me.

      Ya know? Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your points.

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