They often say that during a crisis, to know who your true friends are, just look left and right. Actually i don’t know if they do say that, i just came up with it but i’m pretty sure if i try and claim it some dead guy is going to come forward and say, “Um actually Brett Fish, that one is mine.” Like that whole “I have a dream” debacle. Okay not quite, but still.
To Know Who Your True Friends Are, Just Look Left and Right
Actually there should possibly be something in there about ‘Wait until the Dust Settles and then’ because everyone shows up in crisis for the hug and the squeeze and those most amazing chocolate brownies, and it’s usually a week or two later, when everyone has gotten on with their regular lives, that you can look around and see who is there for the long haul.
Possibly one of the most unexpected aspects that has come out of the #FeesMustFall movement over the last few days for so many people i know has been a quite revealing and often surprising and deeply painful window into the mindset, thinking and attitude of many people we thought we knew and respected. This has been exceedingly hard for a number of my friends and people have responded in different ways such as challenging and unfriending and then in the case of my wife, tbV, inviting them around for a meal.
i believe we need to choose relationship over issue where possible BUT i don’t think we can choose relationship at the expense of issue and so for some of us the unfriend or block or unfollow aspects of Facebook and the Twitterer are going to be the most helpful. But social media is not the best place to end an argument [it’s a great place to start a fight] and so i want to throw the light on Val’s suggestion.
You might have found that your situation is like mine and most of those who just completely didn’t get it, but often in an obnoxious and personal attack kind of way, are periphery people who are Facebook friends but probably only acquaintances at best beyond that. That feels a lot easier – to distance yourself from someone you already have distance with. But for many people it was close friends and family and for the sake of relationship invite them around for a meal and talk this through face to face. Good friends are those we can have strong passionate discussion with and end up thinking completely opposite thoughts and be able to have a braai, share a drink or lose to me at Settlers of Catan with afterwards.
i wrote this post a week ago titled Before I comment… in which i asked these four questions of people about to comment on Social Media, blogs and articles:
Is what i am about to say True?
Is this point i am trying to make Right?
Is me expressing this thought or opinion going to be Helpful?
Am i being Kind in this moment?
With a less important but worth thinking about bonus question of, ‘Is the message i am about to give going to be received?’
i also wrote a piece a while back called Why i Run With Trolls which explains a very particular choice i have taken which a lot of people don’t necessarily understand or agree with, which can be summed up [but go read the full thing!] by saying that when i argue/debate with someone online i am seldom expecting to change their mind/opinion but am always conscious of those watching who are not commenting but who are invested in the conversation and perhaps more likely to change. That keeps me engaging in a number of conversations way past the time many people think i should just leave it and move on.
To those of you who have been hurt by others because they didn’t understand or agree with your stance on #FeesMustFall due to you honestly engaging with it and trying to understand and really listen and participating both online and offline, i am sorry, but i am also SO SO proud of you. Whether you unfriended or blocked or challenged or invited to a meal, know that i respect that and your passion to really understand the times and act in the interests of others at your own expense has been incredible to watch. You have helped me to continue when i have felt outnumbered and alone and i have been so inspired by you.
To all those who feel hurt by others because they supported #FeesMustFall in a way that made you feel guilty, antagonised, picked on or misunderstood and have not taken the time to really listen or research or read up on or try to understand the movement before responding with armchair ideas and opinions, or who have believed everything you saw in the media despite people you know being there and telling you how it really went down, you have a lot of work to do – maybe start here: https://brettfish.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/feesmustfall-through-a-number-of-different-eyes-and-mouths and go and apologise to your person… If you haven’t bothered to honestly critique what is going on before arriving with a truckload of your opinion then you are the troll. Stop it.
Or i’ll set Bob Newhart on you.
Brett “Fish” Anderson is a white South African who is married to tbV [the beautiful Val] and loves South Africa. He is passionate about seeing all people working together to make the country the best it can be. Read his work on https://brettfish.wordpress.com/