The terrible, no good weekend.

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It was a bad weekend.

Sometimes divorced parenting is just a case of accepting you’ve failed before you open your eyes in the morning.

It doesn’t get easier, it just gets more complicated.

Flea was upset, I was upset, I’m fairly sure the postman would have been upset, if I’d had a chance to talk to him.

And then some fundamentalist dicks (‘scuse my French) decided that the best thing to do with THEIR weekend was to start slaughtering innocent people.

The weekend went from bad, to just sad.

It felt like the whole world caught its breath. Shocked, horrified and mystified. How the HELL can this happen? WHY does it happen?

I saw Tweets. Lots of Tweets.

I didn’t Tweet.

I had no words. I was shocked and horrified, but I tend to think that a Tweet from me isn’t going to mean a blind thing to anyone involved in this sort of tragedy. My words won’t bring solace to anyone who needs it.

I didn’t go online for most of the day – I wanted to shield my daughter from those words, and those pictures. Because I have no idea how I help her make sense of something so senseless.

The thing about social media is that it doesn’t necessarily show how anyone feels. Just because someone doesn’t Tweet doesn’t mean they don’t care. And just because they do Tweet doesn’t mean that they do.

For everyone who wants to talk about a tragedy on social media because it comforts them, or perhaps brings a sense that they’re doing something in a situation where there is simply nothing to be done, there’s someone who feels that putting their feelings into 140 characters would trivialise them, or that a quiet prayer shared with friends and family is more appropriate for them.

Within minutes of logging on that evening, though, I saw it.

This person is a Terrible Person because they didn’t Tweet.

This person is a Terrible Person because they did Tweet, but they Tweeted the WRONG thing.

This person is a Terrible Person because they wrote a blog post that I don’t agree with.

This person is a Terrible Person because they did/didn’t change their Facebook avatar

This person is a Terrible Person because they did/didn’t mention Palestine or Lebanon in their prayers.

It’s nonsense.

You know that it’s nonsense, right?

The Terrible People? In this situation, they’re the ones with guns and bombs. If this is a war for hearts and minds, then I firmly believe, with every fucking fibre of my being that the only way to win it is to remember the values of kindness, tolerance and understanding. To embrace and allow for difference, in word, thought, and action.

Rather than jumping on someone who responds to tragedy differently to you, why not just let it be? If you really want to debate a difference in opinion, then do so with an open mind. If its very existence upsets you, click to another page. Watch another TV show. Read another paper. Simple.

When my Facebook timeline isn’t filled with wishes for peace, or sympathy for the bereaved but with debates about this picture or that update or that hashtag, something’s gone awry. Does it matter?

Here’s a thought – sometimes, nothing is right. Everything is wrong. Everyone is sad. When our world tips upside down, there’s only one right thing to do – show a little kindness, where you can.


51 thoughts on “The terrible, no good weekend.”

  1. So ridiculously distressing.

    I did see one post on Facebook from a girl who – according to her post – was there at the Bataclan. Reading it sobered me so much that I couldn’t even talk about what happened on Friday any longer. As you say, there was just nothing to be said. And yet, I understand why people feel the need to say something. Otherwise we’re powerless. Although we’re not really. Although it’s down to the governments to respond officially, I guess all that we can do in the general population is to live humanely, to be supportive, to try to understand something of the shoes that other people walk in. And not to judge.

    Anger and hatred is where all this begins. Not to judge those who are breaking no laws, and to try to understand those we don’t understand, is just about all we can do.

  2. This. Just this. A THOUSAND TIMES this.

    I’m so done with the ‘what about Beirut, do you only care about white people, don’t pray for Paris, religion is bad, don’t bother feeling sad if you voted Tory as you basically did this’ bullshit. So done with people telling others that their reaction to a tragedy is wrong or selfish.

    Let’s just be kind.

  3. Completely agree Sally. I saw a few bits of nonsense and anger outpouring but the sheer volume of messages re peace, prayers and thoughts for Paris cancelled them out ten fold.

    If only people could focus on being kinder. Anger has no place in our home.

    1. You’re right that it’s a few lone voices (and often the same old, same old voices) that are doing this – but I suppose one of my flaws is focusing on the one negative not the ten positives. But honestly, my FB timeline on the weekend was ALL this sort of thing, and it made me so upset.

  4. Agree a thousand times over. After reading all the posts about how France was getting attention and other countries weren’t I posted this:

    I completely understand why there is outrage and indignation that people are changing their profile pictures to the French flag but didn’t for Beirut or Kenya or Syria. But I don’t think it’s a racist thing. Its not that people don’t care. It’s that people feel most empathy when they can imagine themselves in the same situation. Those countries named above are very different from a life most Westerners know and understand. Many won’t have been to those countries. It doesn’t mean that they care less about those people, they’re just further removed geographically and socially from their frame of reference. It takes a greater leap of imagination to put yourself in their shoes.

    Perhaps Facebook should create a gallery of flags that people can choose to use whenever a bad thing happens somewhere in the world. Perhaps it would spread more awareness and enlightenment. Or it might just become emotionally exhausting to keep up. Human beings only have so much capacity for horror before they start to tune it out.

    Those other countries are an example of that. Bad things happen there with such regularity sadly that it becomes background noise. It’s not unusual enough to grab big headlines. Doesn’t mean we should care less, but it does mean that it’s not something out of the ordinary, close to home and a situation you could imagine yourself being caught up in.

    If an attack occurred in London, there’d be wall to wall coverage. But if another attack took place, and then another and then another etc even on home soil the shock factor would start to wear off. It would become expected, the norm. This is why France has received so much focus – because it’s not the norm.

    Perhaps the media should do more to spread awareness of the other atrocities, but they know their audience. And people read stuff that they can most readily relate to. Three of the major factors in what makes a story newsworthy is proximity (how close to home a story is), relevance (how relevant is this story to your day to day life or could it affect you) and significance (how big and unusual is this story).

    Just something to think about before we all collectively feel guilty for not doing more to support every nation in need. Perhaps the best gift we can give the other countries is to learn more about them, get a deeper understanding of what is happening there, provide educated and well researched information to others. And by so doing increasing our collective ability to relate to them.

  5. I thought it was amazing how many people payed their respects and showed support even with a simple profile picture change. It’s a shame some people have to attacke others for posting support for other countries that are also experiencing regular bombing etc. Loss of life is loss of life. Scary world were living in we need to support each other and make ut better for our kids. Great post!

  6. adnan @ themoneyhabits

    Completely agree with you. Sometimes, people simply act without ever thinking of how their acts will hurt people. The Paris attacks are cowardliness and together we are going to defeat everyone. At times, as a blogger, I feel it is normal to react to events happening in our little world and this post really reminds me how big it can be to express your views and share your sadness with others.
    great post.

  7. We live on a mad world. I can’t understand why people cannot just celebrate each other’s differences and live peacefully together. Having French family and many Parisian friends Friday got me hard. It’s also a city I love deeply. It doesn’t mean I don’t care any less about what’s happening elsewhere in the world. It’s just closer to home for me personally. It saddens me that people will waste energy on criticising actions on SM rather than looking at what actually matters.

  8. I so agree – and love the last bit – ‘Show a little kindness’. It means so much to so many people and I wonder why it’s so hard for people to be kind.
    Ironically – November 13th was World Kindness Day. I’ve never understood why we need a day set aside to be kind. Isn’t it something all of us need do.

  9. Sally, you’re bang on with that one. I completely agree, although I was on social media on Friday night, and after a few hours of sheer terror for one of my cousins who goes out a lot, it’s through Twitter I managed to contact him, not mobile. The world is changing, isn’t it?

    I also want to shield my children from all that merde (somehow, swearing in French sounds more appropriate than in English – and less rude!).

    I remember weekends when I was a single child of 10 with divorced parents. I absolutely hated weekends, because it meant I would have to leave home, my routine, my stuff, my family, to go to my dad’s. It was tough… Thinking of you and Flea. x

  10. *round of applause*

    I’ve said and done nothing on social media about the situation this weekend – it feels too trivial, too knee jerk. There are no words. It’s too easy to say the wrong thing. To be judged for saying nothing

    I must admit to questioning this morning why on earth people felt the need to film the silence across Europe, it seemed such an odd thing to do and completely missed the point on focussing on the events.

    Kindess is absolutely the way forward.

    1. You’re so right that social media is BRILLIANT at jumping on a person and judging them on the basis of 140 characters (or the lack thereof) which is… stupid. I’m sorry, but it is.

  11. I’m so glad I’m not alone in thinking like this. I did change to the French flag for a day, then changed back. There was no malice in this, I just couldn’t bare the sadness that image brought me. There are bad people in this world, but there are so, so many good. I want to focus on them x

    1. And I think that’s a really valid choice for you to make, Ojo – lots of people simply don’t need to be in the thick of that sort of very immediate sadness.

  12. I was like you, I just had no words at all. I sat retweeting things instead just to have something to say. It’s just awful hos this happens, people killing innocent people for no reason whatsoever 🙁

  13. Very well said.

    A truly terrible day, a sh!t weekend and a scary amount of ignorance and hate (mostly bred by fear at a guess) resulting from it.
    There really isn’t anything anyone could post or share or say or think that gets past the awfulness of it all.

    As for debating a differing point of view or in some cases facts I realised the hard way this weekend that some people I know are more blinkered and unwilling to bend on their concrete views than I thought.

    Despite the hate talk and debates over “proper” FB decorum at such a time it is clear there there are so many more compassionate people in the world who truly want peace than there are haters and that in itself offers hope.

    1. Yes, you’re right – I think my struggle though is that there are so many “compassionate” people who think there is one right way to show compassion. Which, in itself isn’t very compassionate, if you know what I mean!

  14. Yes. I echo your words. I had to go on social media for work (removed a lot of scheduled promo tweets – just felt wrong) but really all I wanted to do was to curl in a ball and hide. Today I am just so low…my heart so sore. My son is 17 now – and it has affected him deeply – I am grateful I have not had to try to make sense of this to younger children (because, really, there is no sense). Good post, my friend. Good post.

    1. Thanks Jane, it must be harder almost for older kids and young adults because they’re likely to have seen so much more. It’s all just so senseless.

  15. Exactly this. Social media is great that it can bring news to people and also bad for the same reason, you can become too involved. It takes tragic news and turns it into something everyone is talking about to something people think everyone should be talking about and well, some of us don’t want it thrust upon us. Some us want to process the events, slowly without having to feel that we should be doing something because everyone else is, to discover we all have some random relative or friend who is a raging racist and rants about border control. It all just makes it so much more upsetting.

    1. It doesn’t DO anything, and I worry sometimes we confuse doing with clicking, which isn’t the same thing. But I think it works for some people because it makes them feel solidarity, or comfort, perhaps.

  16. Thank you Sally for articulating something I’ve been struggling to find words for all weekend. We are all so damned judgey about everything these days. People seem to find it very easy to tell other people they’re doing it wrong when, quite frankly, 99.9% of the planet are just trying to do their best. We are all different. We won’t all champion the same causes, or donate to the same charities, or even parent our kids the same ways. I would like to see a whole lot more tolerance and a whole lot less judgement. As you say, more kindness.

  17. Thank you so much for writing this Sally, it made me feel a little better. I’m the kind of person that retreats into myself when I’m trying to deal with something bad, I don’t do outward displays of emotion, I can never find the words so I prefer to say nothing at all. Seeing social media awash with flag avatars I couldn’t help but wonder if people might find me heartless for not doing the same, but it’s just not my way. I might not wear my heart on my sleeve, but I feel it every bit as much as anyone else. I’m very sad to hear that people have been openly criticising others on this though, surely that’s what the terrorists want? To divide? No no no, we must stick together, or we allow them to take something from us.

    1. Yes, absolutely – the irony of us attacking another culture for being repressive and then repressing free speech or the right NOT to speak ourselves isn’t lost on me.

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