Ever feel like you just can’t keep up with the current slue of slang words constantly surfacing? Online platforms and our hyper connectivity has amped up a crescendo of confusing words and terms which carry a great deal of social weight.
Woe to anyone over the age of * who is not in the know or who uses the current accepted terminologies incorrectly. It’s a lot to navigate and if you get it wrong you just might find yourself ‘canceled.’ Horrors of horrors. And it could be. There is so much power wielded these days online. We have all witnessed, and felt it, and perhaps been traumatized by it; you better be sure you’ve got your words right…or watch out.
I remember the first time I heard the term ‘meme’…I was teaching Middle School art class and a couple of 8th grade boys attempted to explain it to me. I’m still not sure I really get it. I meme where did that word come from anyway? MEME from the root word myself? Look at how it’s spelled…is it all about me & me? Perhaps, because it seems it’s a lot of me’s, posting memes, and they are meant to draw attention to me.
But I digress…I really want to ‘unpack’ another term which has gained pop culture status and which I recently think I now understand…because it has happened to me, or meme.
Gaslighting. Do you know this one? I had to save a meme about it to remember.
It’s a form of abuse concentrated on making someone doubt their reality. I doubt there is anyone who has dealt with other human beings who has not been gaslighted. It’s a new word for an age old human character flaw. The fine art of manipulation to serve one’s own reality and desires.
But it has levels. At its worst it can cause deep emotional trauma and harm to ones’s sense of self and confidence. It can and does wreck havoc on our ability to create freely without shame and it wastes a great deal of our emotional energy. I personally have experienced this and I am sick to death of having other human beings treat me this way. Especially in regard to the part where you feel as though you are not allowed to have feelings. Or shamed by expressing them. Ironic because the person perpetrating the gaslighting is operating under an abundance of feelings. Generally anger and fear. They are free to use their feelings to damage you, but you are not allowed to express how their misdirected emotions make you feel. You are told you are being too emotional. No. We get to be emotional, we are emotional, why have we been conditioned to think emotions are bad? They rule our nervous systems for pity sake. We are hardwired to feel. It keeps us safe, it fuels our drive and it makes the world go around.
Gaslighting is a patriarchal technique designed to serve a colonized, industrialized capitalist society. It is mean and weak and devoid of integrity and decency. A way to control and twist to serve me. We must stop this. This outmoded way of trying to get what we want is destroying so much of the fabric of what we actually hope for.
I’d like to think we collectively hope for a finer way to treat one another. With honor and respect for all of who we are. All of it. The successes the failures, the beauty and the ugliness, the laughter and the tears. Cause that’s what it memes to be human.