“Why would you post that?!”
“Seriously, how much attention do you need?”
“Do you really want the whole world to know your personal business?”
“When’s the porno coming out?”
These are just a few of the things that have been said to me because of the content that I post on Instagram. I am an activist, and I post about things like intersectional feminism, social justice, mental illness, body positivity, disability rights, systemic racism, LGBTQIA rights and so on and so forth. I have gotten plenty of DM’s and comments from conservative trolls and Trump supporters telling me to kill myself, that I deserve to be raped, that I’m a stupid bitch, etcetera, etcetera. As horrifying as those comments are, they aren’t surprising, considering how offended conservatives get by liberal issues.
What is surprising is when I get comments like the ones above from friends and family. In fact, some of the above comments have resulted in heated arguments with specific members of my family. To clarify, when these family members made these comments, it wasn’t because they necessarily opposed the issues in question or even my stance on them—it was because they opposed the way I chose to talk about them. They took issue with my choice to demonstrate my stance on these issues through a very personal and intimate perspective.
When I post about mental illness, I discuss how I struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction. When I post about feminism and reproductive rights, I discuss my abortion and the times I’ve been sexually assaulted. When I post about disability rights, I talk about how I suffer from chronic pain during my periods as a result of my Asherman’s Syndrome. When I post about body positivity, I use my own body to demonstrate my beliefs and struggles. I try my best to be as open and as honest and as emotionally raw as I possibly can be in my posts, and I do so for a very specific reason.
My choice to publicly post about topics and experiences that most people don’t even want to discuss with their close friends and family is one of the ways that I practice activism. Like I wrote in my piece on accessible activism, being an activist does not have strict guidelines or specifications—it allows for a much wider interpretation than most realize. What activism does require is a change to the current political, social, or cultural landscape. It is the norm in our current social/cultural landscape to repress controversial issues, struggles, negative emotions, and intimate experiences rather than to share them. I choose to challenge and change this norm by posting about them publicly on social media.
I want to change this culture of repressing anything that is not socially acceptable or outwardly positive because I find this practice extremely stigmatizing. We choose not to discuss our daily struggles, personal failings, illnesses, painful experiences, or negative emotions of any kind because they are seen as weaknesses. They are seen as aspects of the human experience that are meant to be dealt with internally and personally, rather than externally and with our community. Why is that? Because they are shameful and if you experience them you should just suffer in silence? Absolutely not. Every single human experiences pain, struggle, illness, failure, and emotion. There is nothing wrong with being human, yet that is the message we send when we choose to omit these parts of our lives. On social media and in everyday life, all we see are the best parts of people’s lives, rather than the whole picture. This only acts to stigmatize any experience or emotion that isn’t rainbows and unicorns, making it condemnable when people do wish to seek help, support, or understanding.
I share when I feel suicidal. I share when I am experiencing chronic pain. I share when I am struggling with my addiction. I share my experiences as someone with bipolar. I share my experiences as a woman. I do not share these things for attention. I share them to normalize aspects of the human experience that should already be normal. I share them to demonstrate that there is nothing wrong with experiencing them, just like there is nothing wrong with seeking help for them. I share them because I am not ashamed, and I want other people to not be ashamed as well.