Despite my ever increasing need to do something about the ever increasing range of wrinkles and other interesting additions to my face and body (spare tyres are a whole other post!)
But what is Botox? And if I don’t plan on using it, why do I even mention it? Well, recently, I heard a discussion on the radio that grabbed my attention as the power of this substance was discussed. Every day, it is used in many varied ways to treat a range of conditions and yet, quite frankly, it’s bloomin’ scary:
‘Botox is a drug made from a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum called botulinum toxin. It is used medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing muscles…
(Scary? What do you mean by scary you may ask? Read on….)
‘Just one gram of botulinum toxin could kill over a million people. Two kilograms could kill the entire human population of Earth.’ (Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com)
It’s pretty powerful stuff, there’s no arguing with that and, while it is used in a controlled manner, it’s not exactly a risk to the population at large. But, misused? Well, it’s not really something we’d even want to consider, is it?
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the power of social media and, in all honesty I think it has quite a lot in common with botulinum toxin. It can undoubtedly be used for good and has many positive qualities but, in the wrong hands or, dare I say it, handled thoughtlessly, it is every bit as toxic as our old wrinkle remover.
It’s incredible how quickly we can all get involved in a discussion, giving our thoughts and opinions, feeding off the anger and frustrations of others and, before we know it, whether it’s meant to or not, it’s all got personal-even without naming people directly, there’s usually enough to go on to make it pretty clear who is in the firing line. I can’t help but think of the play ‘The Crucible’ that I studied at school (and going to watch it at The Lyric in Belfast- you have no idea how cool we 16/17 year olds thought we were!)
In short, so far as memory serves me, the Salem witch trials escalated and before the witnesses knew it, all of them were screaming and wailing because they latched on to what others were saying even though it was nothing to do with them… Sound familiar? How often have we allowed ourselves to be part of someone else’s witch hunt, doing untold damage to an unseen person who themselves is allowed no sense of fairness or justice, as words are thrown around in the heat of the moment and instead of time allowing our tempers to cool, others add fuel to the fire and so the metaphorical temperatures rise. And, as with intense heat, people get hurt. And scars are left, whether visible to the naked eye or not.
Have we ever considered the toxic power of these public rants? We all get mad sometimes; we get frustrated; we wish things were different. But does that mean we take a front page spread out in the local newspaper or stand in the town centre and shout about our personal thoughts and opinions? I’d say those are most unlikely responses. So why, then, do we see no problem in venting our anger and frustration publically on social media?
Is our first response in anger to shoot from the hip, as it were, acting when we’re not at our most reasonable, saying what we’re thinking when we’re feeling most raw OR do we wait a while and let things settle. I wonder, in all those situations where we so easily rant and rave at the touch of a few buttons, would we be quite so willing to say it all if the person were right in front of us?
But here’s the thing that’s been getting to me: the people we rant about so publically? They’re human just like us. They have feelings to hurt, anxieties to keep them awake at night, thoughts to plague with our bitterness and frustration. It’s easy to share a ‘walk a mile in my shoes’, ‘treat me like you’d want to be treated’, ‘you don’t know what someone else is quietly battling’ message when we feel hurt or angry by something that has happened to us… But what about putting oursleves in the other person’s situation and thinking about how we would feel if a virtual attack were launched on us, before we post our angst so publically.
None of us is perfect, none of us is an expert at real life – let’s be honest, even the experts get it wrong sometimes ( find me one who hasn’t) . We’re all taking this life one new day at a time and, as with all things we do for the first time, we rarely get it right straight away, but let’s not make this journey more difficult for the people we’re travelling with. We are all, pretty much, in the same boat, even if our boats all look different. Instead of lashing out, why don’t we try to take a breath and hold back on our rants and raves – chances are the people you are ranting about are struggling too, they just maybe haven’t decided to share it in such a public way.
Life has enough challenges. Let’s not make it any more difficult for others than we need to. If we had to pay to use words like we had to pay for Botox, would we think a bit more carefully before we used them? After all, even if money is no object, that stuff is pretty powerful. And so, my friend, are our words. Let’s use them wisely!