This post will enter the annals of “the most difficult to write blogs” and certainly has already won the award for “most revised draft” in the history of Guylty Pleasure. Ten pages of handwritten notes, crossed out, highlighted, asterisked. Countless e-mails BTS with various well-wishing friends, across platforms. A strategic retreat to remote and cellularly challenged Inishbofin island, pondering implications of and response to Richard Armitage’s appeals re. cyberbullying. (As Richard himself once said – there really *are* places
in this world Ireland where there is no mobile reception – and thank cod for that!). If anything, this should tell even the super-est of superfans that I afford Mr Armitage an amount of time and thought that is usually only bestowed on my nearest and dearest. To spell it out – that is a compliment and a sign of appreciation, not of criticism or disfavour. And yet it took me a while to come to a conclusion on his new-found voice and the tune it is singing.
Is there any doubt that Richard’s cause is noble and applaudable? There is no choice when it comes to evaluating charitable work. It is unreservedly wonderful to see a public figure take a passionate interest and actively promote positive engagement within the online-world. No question!
But there are choices when it comes to interpreting and articulating a response to the finer details of one individual’s POV, especially when that individual has as much clout and credit with me as Richard has. An opinion is an opinion. A personal POV, not a law, a rule or a regulation for correct fan-girling. Reading Richard’s post on cyberbullying is “hearing other voices”, but not necessarily listening (as in “obeying”) to it. I have a choice. In this matter as much as in any other online interaction.
I can choose to let my own opinion be informed, affected and motivated by his. I can choose to respond publicly. I can choose to engage in respectful interaction – which includes constructive criticism. And I can choose not to feel addressed by, or even extricate myself from an interaction or a topic that is threatening my equilibrium or is hurtful to me personally. Most importantly of all, I can choose to resist against being bullied into one POV or another or against being silenced, I can choose to not engage, and I can choose to seek help or to surround myself with sympathetic people.
It’s my own choice. In this matter as in all other online interaction. *I* choose not to interpret Richard’s message as intended to chastise my personal online conduct, I choose not to dissect Richard’s words any further, apart from saying that I see an underlying message of positivity which I wish wasn’t obscured by some mixed metaphors, a confusing vagueness over the appropriate addressees of the appeal, and a regrettable lack of practical advice. My *own* life experiences inform me, that the message is positive, nevertheless. I choose to focus on the positivity: the empowerment to regain control and take responsibility for my own online happiness. That may include withdrawing from certain Social Media platforms and will certainly heighten my sense of self-censorship. But hey, we all have a talent for intelligence – a challenge is a change for the better.
And now I’d like to please go back to concentrating on that which unites us. The appreciation of art and beauty as expressed by and in the talent and shape of Richard Armitage, actor and good person – not policy maker, sociologist or internet-expert.