littlewonder2

Little wonder we stumble in life.


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Things I Learned About Toxic Discourse

When you go online to “join the conversation,” you might find yourself a little lost how to begin. Some conversations online are constructive, but some aren’t. There are plenty of conversations that involve a toxic rhetoric.

There are a range of such conversations out there, so it’s no surprise that there are also conversations on that very topic online. Here’s what I’ve learned from these conversations so far.

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This conversation tells you the basics of how to converse and what healthy and non-healthy conversations alike look like. Not only that, but it gives you a history of why we converse the way we do.

But look. As relevant as all this is, and it is, it also centres on American-style discourse, because of course Americans are the majority on the internet and because they are very influential globally. It’s a mindset that I myself have never felt as strongly, so I’ve always assumed that other non-Americans also don’t have as extreme a mindset as those Americans who share the Bush mentality.

Given this, I think it’s worth looking at how American media specifically is run.

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Well, I would say non-Americans are harder to control because our media is far less jingoistic than America’s is. We don’t have exactly the same poisonous media, but we are still somewhat focused inwards; a lot of our big news stories, even if they happen overseas, is always focused on our nation’s citizens.

But, America does seem to be a special case, since their media does seem to be narrower and more extreme. I believe that a lot of their toxic discourse comes from keeping themselves in their own bubble and shunning those that exist outside it. Americans specifically, after all, seem to be the loudest voices when it comes to arguing over specific topics.

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I know it isn’t just Americans that are the problem. It’s just that Americans specifically are more in the public eye than other Westerners, making their brand of discourse the more visible one. Because it carries more influence, both online and globally, their discourse becomes the voice of other Westerners, since we share much of the same culture, and thus prejudices, as Americans.

Take, for example, this conversation regarding gender roles in Western culture, as opposed to outside cultures.

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And then there are those who take it as their mission to spread such toxic discourse, and test out those that would oppose them in order to find their weaknesses.

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There are specific techniques they use, too.

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There’s also a thing called ‘gaslighting,’ which is referenced quite a lot. A simple example:

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However, I do have an example that talks about it at a bit more length. By examining media, the following example talks about gaslighting, as well as other concepts such as the “female gaze”. The purpose of adding this example is to compare a toxic relationship to a healthy one.

The purpose of these examples is seeing how to deal with toxic discourse when it arises, not only online but in real life.

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Conversely, this next example shows a toxic discourse between female fans of Sherlock and its show runners, as well as providing a counterpoint to the above example’s female gaze, namely the much more common male gaze. It also demonstrates the toxic relationship between women and men in real life.

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Slight addendum to this, regarding male and female fans:

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You don’t have to go online to see all these cases; this is simply the setting many of us use to share our stories or spread our ideas. These ideas may be toxic, or like in these examples, they could spread awareness of these terrible discourses and how to circumvent them. That was my intention here.

I’ll leave you with one last example, which shows how you could react to toxic discourse with grace.

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The Symptom of Individuality

The lobotomy was created in the 30s and later gained popularity for patients displaying things like anxiety, among other things. This was the part that hit me hard; I’ve suffered from anxiety from a young age, and imagining being giving a lobotomy for such a minor problem in comparison to its solution is horrifying. If I had gotten one before I turned 14 (I sincerely hope they didn’t give lobotomies to children), I’d have never become a writer, because it would’ve cut me off from all kinds of creativity or even identity. Lobotomised victims even lost interest in their own lives, not surprising since they were also cut off from being itself.

Lobotomies were used for depressed patients, but it’s little wonder that the treatment didn’t make that problem worse, since both depressed and lobotomised people perceive no point in functioning. It’s likely that the times the treatment was popular in reflected attitudes of behaviour; instead of embracing individuality, it seems as though people prized good behaviour and civility. Anybody who didn’t conform had to be fixed.

This is a terrible attitude to have. I personally find it horrific that people would go to such extremes to control others. It seems to glorify ignorance (seen but not heard) and punish rather than treat those who struggle to fit into society. I personally prefer the idea of shaking the world up and promoting open-mindedness.

That’s why I’m a writer. I want people to understand people, which is the exact opposite of the effect the lobotomy had.


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The Words I Can’t Say

#1493 – Asexual Awareness Week. Today I’ve been reading up on my old favourites on wordpress, ithinkincomics and onlyfragments, when I found this.

My first impressions, the first thing I wanted to say is this:

Oh honey, you’re not ugly and unacceptable. You’re beautiful. There’s no reason to feel ashamed of yourself. And I know no words I can say, or write, will make up for that feeling if you really feel it in your chest…

I’m not asexual, or anything like that. But I feel you. Or I think I do. There was perhaps a point when I felt like that, when everyone seemed interested in that and I didn’t. I was only a teenager then, but now I know that wasn’t true. I was just repressing my interests, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. I did it for years, and when I finally woke up to myself… I felt a bit like that too.

But I don’t anymore. Even if I never say it aloud, how I feel, what I want, I am far more at ease than I was when it started. I’m at ease with myself, even if I’m not with other people to the extent that I tell no one these things. But I do feel them. I’m far more the adult now, who knows herself. At 25, you’d think I would be.

So I hope anyone who reads this who is unsure knows it can get better, whatever your personal struggles are.


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The Final Trifecta: In The Cold

I can’t believe Trifecta is finally ending! Well, after all the entries I’ve contributed to our community, it’s only right I should come back for just one more. I wrote this back in February, but now I’m repurposing it for this final hurrah.

She huddled against the cold, clinging to the one tiny pocket she had in front of her and chilled to the bone everywhere else. She had been forced into this corner, once having all the luxuries of a bed and now forced into the cold hard floor in the middle of winter. Just outside the door, she heard voices. Full of bitterness, she listened.

“Do you think there’s any hope for her?”

She could see his face, just imagine it in her mind. Her brother. She felt nothing but hate for him, something he would never understand through all his little denials of the weight of his guilt. Nothing would ever be enough, not anymore. Her hate for him was the only thing that kept her strong.

“There could be,” explained a stranger. Could he have brought her some doctor to take her away? “I mean, from what you’ve told me… that is, she won’t agree with me, but I feel like I can understand…” A shuddering breath. So maybe not a doctor.

“What she said about… hating you being her only strength. I mean, yeah. I can get that. I think right now, her family’s her only hope. She doesn’t know it now, but there can be more… if she can find the strength in hate, maybe she can find a different strength. Not in you, perhaps, she hates you far too much for that, but her family… if she can find some love in them, maybe there’s still a chance for her to one day… forgive you too.”

The very thought made her furious. Forgive him! There was nothing in all the world to make her forgive him, not if she lived for a hundred years! She would never forgive, she never could, she refused! He had taken everything from her, her entire life! And there was nothing shameful in strength from hate. She would do anything, if it meant that she would be strong; anything, if it meant she would never be weak again! It was worth it in the end…

“I hope so,” he said, and she wanted to tear him from the earth. “But even if she doesn’t… it’s okay. I just want her to be happy again.”

He had everyone else fooled, but he didn’t fool her! He had all the strength of luxury, while she suffered in the cold! And even if she suffered it all, he remained blind to what it truly felt for her. He would never understand, so she could never forgive him. Just the very thought made her stomach turn.

He could never be forgiven. Her mind was too far gone for forgiveness. It rose like bile in her throat.

She curled harder into herself, desperate from that little bit of warmth to spread just a little further. She was freezing.


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BlogFestivus #5 – Tiny Tim

I figure I owe you this dinner. You saved my life five years ago.”

Tim grinned. “Does that make me your saviour?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” said Scrooge. “I was depressed, anything might have done it. All you did was give me your hand. I’m the one who pulled myself out.”

“Yeah, whatever. I saved you, just admit it,” said Tim. “Anything might have done it, but nothing might have happened, either. You could’ve died.”

“This is my thanks, this dinner,” said Scrooge. “Don’t rub it in.”

“So tell me the story,” asked his father, and for the briefest blink of the eye, Scrooge saw his own father staring back at him, that constant judging look, that never-wavering stare that caused lesser men to break down in front of him. But then it was gone in the blink of an eye, and there was Timothy’s father, smiling brightly with an odd light in his eyes.

“I was at the end of my rope,” explained Scrooge. “I hated the world around me and everyone in it. And yet, even after I tried to brush him aside, your son didn’t relent. Now, I’m not like one of these depressive kids these days out for attention, but what he did was open me up again to the world. I decided then and there that it was time to change.”

“Inspiring story,” Tim’s father agreed. “We could all learn from it.”

Note: This is a little late, but I got stuck without internet for about half a week. Better late than never, I say!

happy-blogfestivus-2013

Linda penning at linda vernon humor
Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss
Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Theodore from This Blog Needs A Title
Sandra writing at In Love With Words
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2 (this is me)
BD writing Blogdramedy


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BlogFestivus #4 – Christmas Future

Scrooge had somehow been saved.

He had almost been a statistic; suicidal rates at Christmas skyrocket, everyone knows that. But he wouldn’t have thrown himself off a bridge or jumped in front of a car. He would’ve just walked out into a world he had grown to hate until it buried him.

It wasn’t that he had been particularly touched by the little boy who had talked to him once, or suddenly believed in the kindness of strangers. But as he thought of the sight of him walking away, something had risen in his chest. A bright little ball of hope, that he didn’t even have the spirit to damn it the way he always had.

It wasn’t just some cheesy line, no, it had been somehow real, and not anything like he’d ever assumed. Scrooge was nothing if not ambitious, and that hope turned into a new goal in his mind.

He still hated his family, but they weren’t the only ones that existed. There were people out there that might understand him. And he had found them.

“Pass the turkey,” said Scrooge, sitting at the dinner table.

Familiar old hands complied. After five years, he had met that special little boy again, after Scrooge had pulled himself out of his slump, and now he had a whole new family.

“Of course,” said Tim.

Note: This is a little late, but I got stuck without internet for about half a week. Better late than never, I say!

happy-blogfestivus-2013

Linda penning at linda vernon humor
Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss
Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers
Dylan of Treatment of Visions
Sarah from Parent Your Business
Dawn blogging at Lingering  Visions
K8edid from k8edid
Eileen from Not The Sword But The Pen
Lindsey at RewindRevise
Kandy of Kandy Talk
Theodore from This Blog Needs A Title
Sandra writing at In Love With Words
Natalie from So I Went Undercover
Jen at Blog It or Lose It
Amelie from In the Barberry
Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog
Ashley from LittleWonder2 (this is me)
BD writing Blogdramedy


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BlogFestivus #2 – Christmas Past

“Give it back!”

Scrooge had just unwrapped his biggest christmas, and now he was gripping it tight, struggling to hold on to it as his brother tugged it back and forth between them. He was well aware that his father had only bought it for him in an attempt to buy his love, but he didn’t care. He never wanted anyone else to have it. And he certainly didn’t want to share it with his older brother, because he knew for a fact that if he ever did, he’d never see it again.

“No!” his brother spat.

“Dad! Make him stop!” cried Scrooge.

“Now, now, son, if he wants to borrow it, you should be a good little brother and let him.”

“But dad –”

“No buts,” he said. He pulled his hand off his own present, allowing just enough so that his brother could finally pull his present from his hands.

By the time Scrooge was nine, it was a well-known fact that that toy train had always been his brother’s. Scrooge never quite stopped hating his family for it.

“I hate you, I hate you!”

“Now, now, son,” his father said. “If Santa got you coal for Christmas, it’s only because he knows what a bad boy you’ve been this year. Just think of all the things you’ve done to your poor brother.”

“It’s not fair! I hate you!”

happy-blogfestivus-2013

Amy penning at Fix it or Deal

Tom over at Shouts from the Abyss

Steve from Stevil

Maria-Christina blogging at MCWhispers

Dylan of Treatment of Visions

Sarah from Parent Your Business

Dawn blogging at Lingering Visions

K8edid from k8edid

Dave bringing it at 1pointperspective

Eileen from Not the Sword But The Pen

Lindsey at RewindRevise

Kandy of Kandy Talk

Sandra writing at In Love With Words

Natalie from So I Went Undercover

Jen at Blog It or Lose It

Amelie from In the Barberry

Cee Cee blogging at Cee Cee’s Blog

Ashley from LittleWonder2 (this is me)

BD writing Blogdramedy