MGU 79 | Public Behavior

 

There are different ways to express ourselves through our words, choices, or actions freely. One of the biggest platform to do that, especially with the current pandemic where we’re limited to go out in public, is through social media. Today, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen take a look at public behavior and our judgments and ignorance about them, especially pertaining to being mindful about what and when we post online.

Listen to the podcast here:

People’s Judgements And Ignorance About Public Behavior

Jason, I’m going to bring up a memory that you may have forgotten about.

Forgotten about or intentionally suppressed? It depends on the memory.

I would guess that you didn’t intentionally suppress this, but you may have.

I don’t know what curiosity did. It didn’t kill the cat. It turned the cat into a panther.

As a human being, you have the freedom to experience life as you want without threat of oppression or death. Click To Tweet

Where did that phrase even come from? It’s not that there’s necessarily harm being done to a cat. Maybe the cat was so curious that it endangered itself and ended its life shortly because of its curiosity.

It’s not giving cats their due because I’ve seen cats pull off some pretty crazy shit and survive. It’s not the videos online but my own where it’s like, “That was a daring move.”

What’s the most daring thing you’ve seen your cats do?

He jumps from distances. There’s a neighbor’s cat, Rafa, the fluffy cat who lives next door. He’s been hanging out in my front yard a lot lately. There’s a giant cactus in my front yard and there’s also a courtyard where he can jump through the cactus. I see him run when I get out the door and jumped through the cactus and somehow emerge unscathed. That’s a random example. You see videos of cats falling from 2, 3 story windows, and surviving. Cats are a resilient bunch of creatures. Be curious, cats. Continue to do your cat thing. I support you.

I’m also curious if anyone reading this episode remembers or even knew that what I’m about to bring up exists. I forgot about it until somehow it came to resurface in my memory. This is something that happened in about 2013 or maybe 2012. That is a YouTube channel that Jason and I had called the Bizargonauts.

I didn’t forget about this. How could I forget about it?

When was the last time you thought about it?

I thought about it earlier in 2020.

Did you look it up?

No, I go to the main page on my YouTube channel, which is YouTube.com/jasonwrobel. I was looking at some metrics and all of the main subscriptions that I’m subscribed to the channels. It compiles them in a right-hand toolbar when you go to my primary YouTube page, and Bizargonauts is there. I don’t often look at it, but I looked over and I remember seeing Bizargonauts. I’m like, “We had some fun with that channel.” That was the definition of randomness. It was you and I when we became friends and then started dating.

It was almost like you and I have an outlet outside of the wellness, the food, the mindfulness, the eco-living, and all the stuff that I suppose maybe most people know us for or have known us for in our primary brands. You and I wanted a fun, goofy, comedic and creative outlet. That was whether we set it or not. Both of us wanted that and needed that to let off some steam and not be like, “Here’s another recipe,” or “Here’s another eco-friendly living tutorial.” We wanted to do fun, wacky, and random shit. That was the genesis of it.

MGU 79 | Public Behavior

Public Behavior: Now we have platforms like YouTube and TikTok talk that encourage you to share interesting moments of your life.

 

In 2013, you were working on your TV show. There was also a mentality that we both had back then. There was a specific style of professionalism.

Do you mean how one presents oneself on camera in terms of that level of professionalism? It’s like, “This is how I present myself as a YouTube host?” Do you mean there was almost a formulaic way of presenting oneself as a camera host?

It’s more than back then people wouldn’t be as accepting of you if you showed those silly sides of yourself if that was not your brand. At least that was my perception because otherwise, why wouldn’t we have put these videos on your YouTube channel or my YouTube channel? Why did they go here? For me, I wouldn’t do that because it went against my brand and my style. It’s silly looking back, but back then I also used to create a lot of separate YouTube channels for different things. I was compartmentalizing my audience. I didn’t want to put everything on one YouTube channel because I didn’t feel like everyone would accept everything that I did. I imagine that’s part of the reason that I created this. It was also putting things up maybe more for ourselves. I don’t remember exactly if you and I had any intention of other people seeing this, do you?

I don’t think so. From what I remember of the genesis of it, first of all, it was realizing that you and I have a very wacky, goofy, and tangential sense of humor. Our senses of humor are similar in that sense. It was just that we’d have these random ideas for songs, dances, or ASMR videos. It was the definition of tangential randomness. There was no discussion ever of, “Let’s brand this. Let’s create an Instagram or a Twitter account.” It was a singular outlet for you and me to put goofy, comedic, or strange creative ideas that didn’t necessarily align with the worlds of food, nutrition, wellness, or eco-living. It’s interesting now because you talk about the acceptability of things. It’s something that I still struggle with.

You know this, Whitney, because I do have a random goofy and crazy side with creating songs and skits and to this day you’re still encouraging me to get on TikTok and I’m still resisting. That’s another probably an offshoot that we can talk about maybe in this episode, but my point is that Bizargonauts was maybe our first attempt publicly to be like, “We’re actually funny, goofy and weird.” Maybe no one publicly has seen the side of us. I remember it feeling very liberating in that sense of we have these improvisational creative impulses. We need a place to put them. To answer your question a very long roundabout way, that was the only intention. I don’t think we ever intended anyone to see this stuff.

I also don’t think that we are hiding it necessarily. It’s funny because the channel has thirteen videos on it. Why do we call it the Bizargonauts? I think it was a take on Jason and the Argonauts.

That is correct. It is also because we were walking in Marina Del Rey to go to a restaurant and there’s a free magazine on the West Side of LA called the Argonaut. That sparked me going, “Jason and the Argonauts, but we’re bizarre. What about Bizargonauts?” I remember specifically the creative genesis of that name was us walking to that restaurant. I can’t remember which restaurant it was, but one night in Marina Del Rey when we both lived on the West Side in Venice. I saw that and we were like, “Let’s call it Bizargonauts,” and you’re like, “Yes.” There was no committee. I proposed it and you were like, “Cool.” That was it. It was very simple.

Racism is an insidious cultural disease. Click To Tweet

Looking back at things like this reminds me of different ways in which we can express ourselves and feel free. It also brings up feelings of the times where I’ve not done things because I’ve been afraid of what other people were going to think. Looking back on this, I can’t believe that we posted some of these things. It’s all very strange. I’m also trying to remember why did I even feel the need to share these things? It makes a lot of sense for me. Most of my life, I’ve captured things on camera. Before cell phones, I always had a camera. My dad had a video camera and a still camera growing up. As soon as I was given permission to use those, I was using them to make videos as a kid. That led me to go to film school. It was such a big passion of mine to create things. Much of my life is documented but very little of it is shared outside of friends, close friends, and family.

What’s interesting with YouTube is we have this outlet to share all of these things. Now we have platforms like TikTok that encourage you to share interesting moments of your life. The same thing is true with Instagram. I remember before Instagram, I had so many photos and wished that there was a place for me to organize them and to share them. Sometimes I would create short blog posts based on my photos. It always felt so much work. That’s what Instagram is. It’s sharing moments of your life and the little stories behind it or things that you would learn. My whole career with Eco-Vegan Gal started that way where I felt like I was acquiring so much knowledge about veganism and the environment that I wanted to share it with other people.

This place of sharing is such a huge part of our cultures. I also reflect back on the many times that I’ve censored myself because I didn’t feel like other people would accept it or I try to keep it on the low because I didn’t want people to find it and judge me. Something that I’m often working through is, what do I want to share? It’s an important balance. There’s one side of me that thinks I shouldn’t feel like I need to censor myself. I want to be free. The older that I get, and a lot of people experience this as they age, is more of a desire to let go of their feelings about what other people will perceive them as and be free to share themselves. On the other hand, we also live in a time where people share pretty much everything. It does help us to reflect on why we’re sharing things. It was an intense time to be in Los Angeles and in many parts of the country, maybe even the world.

There was a lot of protests, demonstrations, riots, looting, and violence. There was a lot happening. I live in a part of Los Angeles where it was very concentrated and I felt very uncomfortable for most of the day as a result. One thing that I saw online that I thought about sharing was a post that somebody shared on Twitter that said, “Before posting a selfie or a picture of what you’re eating for dinner or your friends by the pool, remember that in doing so you are actively acknowledging that you have the freedom and time to care about other things outside of the urgent fight for racial justice.” Be careful about what you’re choosing to say in this space right now and ask yourself, “Could the real state that I’m about to occupy on the internet be better suited for something more helpful?”

A colleague of ours shared it. I saw that as well. It’s not just during this time of peaceful protests, looting, setting buildings on fire, and all the things that we have been experiencing in LA, but prior to the pandemic. I’ve noticed my level of sensitivity to people showing off their Lamborghinis, their mansions, the poolside pictures, popping champagne, that stuff that pops up on my feed. I’ve been noticing that I’ve been having a visceral reaction to those things. It’s like this, and this may be a judgment and I’m okay owning it, but there’s a part of that statement that resonates with me because there are people being arrested, there are people dying, there are people having their rights challenged. There’s violence. The national guard is there. It’s an intense time and to be like, “What’s up? I’ve got a new Lambo.” There’s a level of insensitivity that I feel when I see things like that.

I thought that too. Before we started this episode, I was sharing with Jason how I drove through parts of Los Angeles. I was planning on going grocery shopping but the grocery store had such a long line, which is on a side note, a very frustrating result of COVID is having to wait in line outside on a hot day to go in to get groceries. I remember thinking this with you, Jason, how I yearn for the days where you could swing by the grocery store, run and grab something and be in and out. Now those days are not as common unless there’s no line at the grocery store. You’re probably going to be waiting in line for 10 to 20 minutes or maybe more, and then going to the grocery store and having to follow a line. Sometimes these grocery stores have rules about the patterns in which you’re walking through the store. Everything has shifted so much and I know it’s for our health.

Jason, you were sharing this too about looking at guitars and it’s like, “We know this is for the greater good, but I still have this nostalgia for how it was.” I was driving around Los Angeles. I didn’t end up going to the grocery store. Instead, I ended up driving down some of these streets that were heavily impacted by the protest and the looting. A lot of mixed emotions came up for me because for the most part, I feel like they’re very justified. There’s so much anger and we need to bring attention to the racism happening in this country. I’m very grateful for it for the most part. It’s nothing but my own self-interest that I feel uncomfortable and a little unsafe at times. That’s an unusual thing for me to feel and I want to put myself aside for the people that feel unsafe all the time.

It’s important for us to step back and think about that. Driving through the city and observing all the graffiti cleanup and people boarding up their windows and looking at businesses that I love and how their windows were broken and they may have been looted and all this stuff. It’s a specific area. It’s not even the whole city that I’ve seen. It’s just a few streets. I was driving past one specific area and there was a restaurant open. It was the first time that I’ve seen people dining in a restaurant in months. This one in particular stands out because it’s outdoor dining. You can see people driving by and they’re inside. I felt this judgment. How could you be dining at a fancy restaurant the day after our city was greatly affected by this?

It was mostly white people eating at a very upscale restaurant that is expensive. It’s known for that. I found myself feeling a little irritated by that. It’s similar to how I feel sometimes about what people post online. I found myself thinking about this a lot because all I wanted to do was find up to date information about what was happening. I was curious. I wanted to get involved. I wanted to know what was happening down the street for me and if there was anything that I needed to do. I’m still weeding through a lot of things to try to find important information. I’m still seeing posts from people that they may have scheduled ahead of time without knowing what was going to happen and so their posts are going out. They’re not even aware that it might not be a good time to be sharing something like that.

The mixed feelings I had was one like, “I don’t want to see that right now. I want to see important news. That’s what I care about.” The other part of me thinking, “You’re not very aware of what’s going up right now and how it’s affecting other people.” There was a little part of me thinking, “Maybe we need to see things like that.” Maybe we need to feel like we can be distracted and it’s tough to say. I heard from a friend as well. I checked in with one of our close friends because she was right in the heart of the protesting. Her building was maybe a block or a block and a half from heavy tear-gassing, looting, and police action. There were fires happening and there was so much within a few blocks of where she lives. She decided to go to a different friend’s house because she didn’t feel safe at her home by herself. She probably wouldn’t have gotten much sleep either because it was so loud with the helicopters and the sirens. There’s so much intensity going on.

Try not to judge other people because you can make all these assumptions and not truly understand why somebody posts something online. Click To Tweet

I checked in with her and she said, “I want to check out of reality. I want to do something else and not think about this and not talk about it.” That’s very relatable too. It’s important for us to be aware, pay attention, and not ignore things because we can’t. It’s not fair. I don’t think we can ever fully ignore things because eventually, things will come to the surface whether we want them to or not, but there is a human desire to escape reality sometimes. Maybe that’s why some people go to fancy restaurants and post things online that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the world at the time. They just want to have a break from it all.

There’s time, place, and space for that. I’m certainly not the arbiter of what’s right or wrong, what’s appropriate or inappropriate. If I get the impression that somebody is flaunting their privilege, it feels awful to observe that. If I examine why does that feels awful to see people flaunting or exerting their privilege at this moment with everything that’s going on, it’s like, “Am I having a reaction because I wish I had what they had?” No, it’s not that. It’s almost me being triggered by their perceived lack of sensitivity and tact. Everything is going on in the world and you’re talking about your brand new Louis Vuitton luggage, your Lamborghini, and the fancy restaurant you ate at. Where’s your sensitivity? Where’s your sense of tact? Where’s your sense of sympathy or empathy for what’s happening? It’s like, “Everything is crazy going on. I went and did some retail therapy.” Maybe I do sound judgemental and that’s okay. I’m going to own it, but there’s something deep inside of me that’s like, “Really? That’s what you can contribute right now?” I hear what you’re saying about the level of distraction and checking out of reality.

I just think there’s a time, place, and space for that. If you, dear readers, have been in a city or a part of these peaceful protests and actions that are being taken and you’re seeing what’s happening. For someone who’s emotionally invested in this, who is standing for rights, for progress, for people of color in asserting their rights, their power, and being treated a human. How out of touch does a person have to be and be like, “Here’s my fancy car and my fancy luggage?” How out of touch with reality does a person have to be? That’s the thing that I think about. It’s concerning in the human psyche, but it doesn’t mean that we’re compelling you to join the struggle or “be on our side” or post things that are in alignment with the movement.

I don’t understand a person’s mind that would feel compelled to post that materialistic privileged bullshit. I don’t understand why people would want to do that. My higher level of concern in all of this is the end game. I want to comment on it because you gave me a lot to chew on. I can’t understand what it is to fear for my life when I go for a jog or walk my dog at night or get pulled over by a police officer. I have no idea what that feels like. There’s no possible way for me to understand what it is like to be under that threat and that fear all the time. What I do know in my heart is that people are deserving of humanity, protection, basic respect, basic rights in this country.

I understand why people are full of rage and anger and fed up, but there’s a way to constructively channel that energy. My fear and my concern are that most of the videos I saw of cop cars being lit on fire, the Grove burning, the looting of the Beverly Center, and the more “violent” parts of that. If I look at the peaceful protests, it looked like a mixed crowd of people. I know that talking to friends that were in that. It was peaceful and then things escalated quickly. This is not an absolute statement, but if I look at the videos that I saw, people standing on burning cop cars, smashing windows, it was mostly white people doing those actions.

My fear and my concern are that this is going to be blamed on people of color. They’re going to take the brunt of this. People aren’t going to look with their eyes open to see what’s happening and who was doing most of the violent acts. That’s the most concerning part to me. I fear that through what’s going on around our country, it’s going to give the powers that be more leverage to respond with violent action toward us collectively or the people that are standing up for this. My concern is that on a spiritual level and on an energetic level, violence creates more violence. I’m not judging anyone’s tactics. In a roundabout way though, I’m saying that if we go the route of destruction, pillaging, violence, and guns, we are giving them literally and figurative ammunition to respond in extremely violent ways. I don’t know that that’s the goal here. That’s the biggest concern that I have with all of this and with what’s happening.

MGU 79 | Public Behavior

Public Behavior: People are so full of rage and anger, and they’re fed up, but there is a way to constructively channel that energy.

 

It’s a complex matter and we don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know exactly what the government is thinking or how the police force, the national guard, all of these different people that are getting involved are thinking. There’s a lot of ignorance and I am willing to say that I feel ignorant about this too. First of all, as we’ve talked about in another episode about cultural appropriation, there’s only so much that I can understand as a white woman that’s grown up in a privileged environment. I can’t even begin to understand a lot of this. I can have compassion and that’s what I’m focused on. There’s a lot of intense emotion happening and people are fed up because of what’s been happening in the world and the lack of justice.

I do think that things need to change. It’s tough to see things get destroyed. A lot of people have made great points about how our property is nowhere near as valuable as human lives. We see this happen when there’s a natural disaster. It’s like, “I’m grateful to be alive. Who cares about my stuff? Who cares if my house is burned down as long as I and my loved ones are alive? That’s all that matters.” Yet a lot of people are reacting with horror over what’s happened to our city. I can tell you that after driving around for half an hour or so, there is a lot of destruction but not that much.

These buildings can be cleaned up, the graffiti can be painted over or washed off, and the windows can be repaired. A lot of these businesses have insurance for things like this. That can easily be resolved but a life cannot be taken back. A lot has been tried to fix things and that hasn’t worked. We’ve got to try something else. To me, that’s the simplest way to view all of this. Tying back into the part of the theme of this episode which is, what do we post online? What don’t we post? When do we post it? What do we share? How do we share it?

To answer that question from my own experience, if I see something and I feel that it accurately encapsulates my level of awareness and compassion, then I want to share those things. I saw something that our friend Robert Cheeke has posted. He was a previous guest here on the show. He’s been posting some compelling and thought-provoking content. Robert posted a quote from a gentleman named Scott Woods, in terms of what to do and how do we address the roots of all of this? This quote to me was one of the most eloquent and thought-provoking things I’ve yet read.

The quote from Scott Woods says, “The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, where racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of white people at other people’s expense, whether whites know it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people. It’s going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another, access is another, ignorance is another, apathy is another, and so on. While I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into the air. You take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you get over. There’s no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It’s a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”

That could be interpreted as like, “Let me examine if I have any racist tendencies or things that I’m not aware of.” The thing that hits me is that it’s a set of values. As Scott Woods so brilliantly detailed, a set of socioeconomic conditions and ways that society has been set up from a legal perspective, from a cultural perspective, from a perspective of privilege. The things we keep hearing about. The question that I come back to in all of this is how do we collectively address the roots of how imbalanced the system is, especially you and I like white people who have a lot of friends of color?

How do we get to the roots of the system, pull the weeds out, and help to create something new that honors and respects people, and gives a level playing field? I don’t know the answer to that, but when I read that it’s not about passing a law or two. It’s not about that. That to me is on the level of symptom, not causality. I want to learn and interact with people so I can understand this more. The question I go back to is, how do we get to the root cause of this shit and how do we reboot the system? If it is rebooting the system, how do we destroy the old system and recreate a new one? That’s where my mind is at with all of this.

The trouble is similar to COVID in a lot of ways. It’s not like there’s a definitive answer to solving this. A lot of this we’re still figuring out. Even though racism has been an issue for a long time, it is still different in the context nowadays. There’s so much that has to do with the way that you are brought up, the education that you have which shapes your perspective on things, your experience of a culture, and who’s around you. In a lot of ways, we’re working through so much in our family lines like relatives that might be racist around you. You have to work hard to distance yourself from that. It’s like there is racism in my family and it’s taken a lot of awareness of myself in order to not have that same mindset, but then I’m working against how I was raised, the town I grew up, the college I went to, the people that I’m surrounded by, my experiences, and all of that.

We’re all collectively bringing our own experiences and trying to understand something that is complex. From my perspective, it’s not a simple thing. One thing that resonated with me was that I feel more comfortable listening instead of speaking. This is more of a tendency of who I am as a person. I tend to be cautious and I like to do my research. I like to try to grok and comprehend something as much as I possibly can before acting on it. That’s not always the answer too because there are a lot of posts going around saying that silence is the same as violence. I don’t want to be silent, but I also don’t want to say anything out of ignorance. That’s a tough thing too, especially when it comes to posting online.

I almost posted that quote I read because it resonated with me. I thought, “Am I posting this?” The reason I hesitated as I wasn’t fully clear on what my motivations were. This reminds me of something that’s been trending in the news. Jake Paul, the YouTuber, there’s footage of him in the middle of a mall that was being looted. People are outraged after seeing that. He had to come out with a statement to explain what he was doing there because people thought like, “Is he looting? Why is he documenting this? Is this for his own gain?” There was a lot of outrage. He is saying that he was doing his part to peacefully protest. He was trying to document what he was seeing in an effort to share the experience and bring more attention to it.

There’s part of me that’s like, “Maybe that’s true,” but then there’s another part of me thinking, “I don’t know if I believe him because it seems like Jake Paul does a lot of things for his ego. He does a lot of things to make money to capitalize on it.” It’s tricky because how can we ever know his motivations? We won’t know. It’s like anything else. You can go through the legal system and have a jury try to judge you. You have a lawyer defending you and you have a lawyer against you. Even in the legal system, it’s tough to know the truth of a situation. In a way, who are we to judge other people’s actions? We don’t know their motivations. Even if they try to tell us what their motivations are, we can’t possibly understand it because people can lie or they can tell the truth and we perceive them as lies.

A lot of the times in these scenarios, I feel more comfortable observing and listening because I don’t want to take any action or say something that might not be true. On the same hand, based on what I said, if I’m always waiting for the truth, I may never take action because I may never know the truth. The truth is all a matter of perception. I might as well do what is best at the moment. It’s confusing to me, but I’m starting to lean more towards the latter. I just need to find the courage to say what I’m feeling and the trust that I’m doing my very best. In general, it’s letting go of how people perceive me because I can’t control how they perceive me.

We don’t want to be silent, but we also don't want to say anything out of ignorance. Click To Tweet

To your point, your level of awareness, your level of understanding, and your version of the truth at the moment, that’s all we ever have. The one thing that I’m being mindful of is contributing to the conversation, listening, and being extremely humble so that I can learn because I’m ignorant. In our wheelhouse of activism, I have been focused on animal rights, ecological rights, and those things for many years. To be honest, other than on observer’s mentality, I haven’t been directly involved in racial justice or that part of activism. Even though I’ve always felt a deep amount of compassion especially for the level of violence, loss, rights being taken away, and the oppression. I’ve never dived into that part of activism per se.

To echo back what you said, I ought to speak up from a place where I’m speaking with an open heart and speaking words of truth. I look at a caption or a post and read it back to myself and say, “Is this coming from me wanting to contribute to moving the conversation forward?” To me declaring my openness, wanting to learn more, wanting to contribute, move this forward, and stand with my brothers and sisters in this cause. There was a tag going around where it said something like, “To all my mindfulness, meditation, health, wellness, and sustainability practitioners, we better hear from you. Don’t be sitting on the sidelines, all silent and shit.” It was getting passed around on Instagram. It’s like, “Now what? You’re trying to shame people into speaking up.” If you do that and they speak up, is it authentic? To me, I want the posts that I share in the way that I want to comment on this because I’m going to keep commenting on it. It needs to come from my own level of authentic experience in my heart, not because someone has compelled me or shamed me into speaking up.

That’s why I ended up not posting because I felt like I was trying to say something just to say something. That doesn’t feel right to me either. I even thought about going down to the protest. I’m like, “Am I going to go or am I going because I feel moved to go?” That is tricky and it’s tough because there’s this feeling of I don’t want to be perceived by other people as being silent, not taking action, and being part of the problem. In my heart, I know that I’m not trying to contribute to the problem. I know I’m not being silent because I’m trying to be a violent person through my silence. I know that I’m not trying to be on the sidelines so that I don’t take action.

We also have to own our reasonings. If we feel like we’re in alignment with ourselves and what we believe in, I don’t know if it matters if we’re speaking up simply to show other people something. Are we doing something to prove ourselves? I spent the day and put everything on hold. I had a whole plan for my day. Once the protest started happening and I was seeing what was going on in this city, I spent the entire day educating myself and learning. I haven’t spent this much time on Twitter in many years just reading through all the different perspectives.

It was my aim to understand what was going on and listening to different people’s perspectives, even going on to Trump’s Twitter account. Speaking of silence, I was incredibly frustrated that he wasn’t sharing more, of all days. I never read his tweets but I wanted to know what he thought at the moment. He only posted a few times and he was focused on what was going on with NASA and all things aside. I would have loved to spend the day paying attention to the SpaceX launch and what Elon Musk was doing. That sounds fun to me, but that was not a priority to me whatsoever. It was tough to see some people not taking a stand. I understand that perspective too.

A lot of us are looking at each other to see our perspectives. What I did instead is I talked to my friends. I reached out to them and said, “How are you feeling and what are you doing?” That is something that I’ve come across a lot in my research about how to figure out what you believe, and finding sources of information is to reach out to your community. I don’t need to reach out to my community publicly. I can reach out to my community privately. I don’t need to display to other people my thoughts all the time. Just because I’m not sharing my thoughts publicly, it doesn’t mean that I’m not having them privately.

On that point too, I felt a little annoyed seeing selfies at the protest. Why are you posting a picture of yourself at the protest? Are you doing that to prove that you care? Did you do your hair and makeup before going to a protest? I’m trying not to be judgmental and maybe the comment in hair and makeup is a bit judgmental, but I don’t need to get all polished to protest something. Why can’t we go as we are and witness it? Why do we need to document and prove to other people that we’re doing something? To answer that question from my perspective, I do see that if we’re all posting about this, our voices can be heard because it’s louder. The question is, are we posting for that reason? Are we posting to be acknowledged? Are we posting to prove to other people something?

It depends on what the content is that we’re posting. I reflect on my own experience in terms of capturing video content and social media at protests because, in the last few years, I went to several of the Standing Rock protests when they were doing the oil pipeline. I also went to the Women’s March after Trump was elected. In those contexts, I remember posting because my intention was I wanted to capture some of the speakers, what they were saying, and their level of eloquence in hopes of raising awareness. If anyone wasn’t at the protest, they could see the speakers, they could see the environment, and maybe somehow think, “How can I get involved? How can I contribute to this even though I’m not physically there?”

I remember the things that I was posting very clearly. My mind was like, “What pieces of content can I capture to try and raise awareness or inspire people to do something?” To me, it goes back to a question of intent. Are people even aware or are they even consciously aware of why they’re doing things? This goes back to, what is your intention? Why are you posting what you post on social? Why are you showing up to a protest? Are you willing to have radically honest conversations with people that are affected in different ways? Are you showing up to a protest and going there to gain knowledge, expand, and grow your awareness of this? Are you showing up because you want to loot Nordstrom?

The intent is one of the most important things we need to focus on in this whole conversation. Why do you feel the need to capture a post, do a selfie, and go to a protest? Is it because you want to raise awareness, your own awareness, the awareness of your followers, and your fans? Is it because you want to have a level of solidarity with people that are different than you, people of color, people of different races? Is it, “I did my part, everyone. Look, I did my part?” That’s very ego and we need to be honest with all of ourselves of what is motivating what we do. Is it ego? “Look, I’m a good person. I did something. People celebrate me.” Is it because you want to create change and you want to create a contribution? For all of us, we need to get radically aware of what that is for each and every one of us.

At this moment, I don’t have a full answer. That’s part of why I want to continue to listen. I was enjoying some TikTok that Lizzo was posting about this. She was trying to help white people better understand what was going on. That’s part of my feeling too. We don’t need to hear from more white people right now. We need to hear from people of color. I want to hear from them. I’ve heard enough from white people at the moment. I want to understand how this is affecting those people directly because those are the voices that I haven’t heard loudly enough and often enough. Those are the perspectives I’m most interested in. That’s the other feeling like I’m not trying to be an ally, it’s that I don’t know if it’s my turn to speak. That’s part of this too. If everybody’s shouting at once, how do you hear anything? Why can’t we take turns and listen to someone and give them the respect and the time that they deserve? That to me is equality.

When I look at some of the lootings, we can have all these different opinions on it. Are people looting because they’re opportunists? Are they thinking, “This is my chance to steal something? I’m so resentful and I deserve it. I’ve been through enough so it’s okay for me to steal from other businesses?” I saw this heartbreaking video. I don’t know where it was. I assume that it was from the past few days, but I’m not 100% sure. It was this black man in a city. I’d be willing to guess it was Minneapolis. I wasn’t able to see from the source. He was yelling in the middle of the street. He was like, “Why are you destroying my business? I am one of you. I came from poverty to start this business. Why are you doing this to me?”

I saw this in Los Angeles too. There were signs up. One of the signs that tugged at my heartstring was in the streets that were heavily affected in Los Angeles. There was a home for the elderly. I don’t know if it’s a hospital or a living facility. They put up signs in their window, “Elderly sick people here, please do not break our windows.” There were other signs like, “This business is owned by people of color.” They felt like they had to put these badges up, “Please don’t target us. We’re one of you.” It’s heartbreaking that they had to say that to protect themselves. It makes you think in a way, are they saying, “Don’t break into us, break into the people next door because they’re owned by white people?” It’s a rough time.

MGU 79 | Public Behavior

Public Behavior: When you speak up, it needs to come from your own level of authentic experience, not because someone has compelled or shamed you into speaking up.

 

Part of my point bringing that up is I want to have compassion for everybody. I have compassion for the cops. A lot of cops are corrupt and there’s a big issue with them. I get it as much as I possibly can at this moment. I understand to an extent the violence that’s going on. What about the people that are good cops? They’re out there risking their lives and they’re out there doing things that maybe they don’t want to be doing. They have to do it in order to protect the city. It’s tough for everybody. It’s tough for the residents. It’s tough for small business owners. I’m sure it’s even tough for the big business owners and their employees that feel their lives are at stake. It ultimately is tough for everybody, but we need to take this stance of giving attention to people that have been in a lack of justice for all this time.

There was also a great post on TikTok about how all lives do matter, but right now we need to put the attention on black lives because we haven’t been giving them equality. That’s my standpoint at this moment. It may change by the time this episode comes out. That’s the tough thing about sharing these things on our show. Just because we said something at this moment, it doesn’t mean that that will shift. My feelings are constantly shifting. That’s part of life. My feelings and my perspective are not set in stone. Every day I’m learning something new. I’m committed to learning. I love learning and trying to understand things. I enjoy pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and noticing where I am sitting in comfort. I’m trying to understand my own motives. I try not to judge other people because I can make all these assumptions and not truly understand why somebody posts something online.

It’s a complex issue. I have an instinct to judge people and think they’re just doing that to get validation, then that comes up for me a lot or they’re just selfish. They’re in their ego, but I don’t know that. Maybe that’s partially true, but maybe there’s another reason there. We don’t know who somebody is. It feels good. It feels comfortable to judge somebody. Going back to Jake Paul, I don’t agree with all the people that are tearing him apart on Twitter, but maybe that serves a purpose. Maybe he needs to check his ego and step back. Maybe people are fed up with a young rich white boy doing whatever he wants. Maybe it’s like everything else that’s happening, where he needs to be put in his place for a little while. Even though he deserves compassion and love, there’s a reason that there’s a lot of resentment towards him. I don’t necessarily agree with saying cruel things to other people as we talked about cancel culture. I don’t want to hop in that bandwagon, but there’s part of me that can relate to it. It’s tough to see that privilege and ignorance as well.

I go back to the point of why people of color are angry and why they’re demanding rights and safety, and it’s love. When I say love, I mean in a very real way. The basic fundamental point of a mother fearing for her husband’s life, the men in her family, her child. I’ve been looking at many interviews and reading many articles of black women talking about the constant fear of the men that they love being subjected to violence, oppression, and death. That is a constant daily concern for a lot of people. To think about that reality, I don’t know what that’s like. If I go into that space as a highly sensitive and emotional person, I can imagine the pain of having that being in your subconscious all the time when your son or your husband goes out to get groceries, goes for a drive, goes for a run or whatever it is.

I remember in my first year of college when I was eighteen. I read a book called Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which talked a lot about racism and systemic racism. It was one of the first opportunities I remember starting to understand what that conversation was about. One of the quotes that are apropos of what I’m saying about love, the foundation of this desire for equal rights and safety and being treated as a human being as love. There’s a quote from the protagonist in this book that Ralph Ellison talks about. The quote is, “I denounce because, through implicated and partial responsibility, I have been hurt to the point of abysmal pain, hurt to the point of invisibility. I defend because in spite of it all, I find that I love.” I read that quote and I remember reading that book. It gives me chills.

Here are people that have been bludgeoned, killed, oppressed, hung, and systemically annihilated for hundreds and hundreds of years, yet I believe in my heart that the purpose of the protests, the standing up, the rage, and the anger, at the heart of it is love. Why can’t my son, my daughter, my husband, and the people that I love to feel safe in their own skin when they leave the house when they go into the world? Why do I have to worry about our lives when we leave? I can’t relate to what that feeling is like, but I have the empathy and compassion to say, “You deserve not just that basic right of protection from the government and the police, but as a human being, the freedom to experience life as you want without the threat of oppression or death.”

That to me is a basic human right. Where my heart hurts is that there are groups of people on this planet that don’t even have that basic protection, that basic sense of safety when they go into the world. That is absolutely heartbreaking beyond. In summary, my perspective is when I speak, I hope that I speak from love. When I speak, I hope that I can speak with openness so I can learn more. When I speak, I hope that I can be open to doing better and contributing positivity to this conversation instead of just contributing because I feel like I need to say something. Remembering that the core of why people are standing up and why they’re so angry and so full of rage is because they want the freedom to be in this world as they are. If I anchor in that and I remember that, for some reason that makes me feel anchored in love like that. I don’t know how it makes me feel. It gives me more impetus to do more and do something to contribute positivity to the conversation.

This conversation is inspiring me to spend some more time reflecting on what I want to say, when, and why. What’s important for me is to not have a knee-jerk reaction. It’s also part of my personality. I don’t like to be pressured into doing things. It’s like when you’re at an event and they have the round table where everybody is encouraged to talk and you weren’t prepared to talk, so you don’t know what you want to say. I’m one of those people that I don’t want to say something until I’ve thought about what I want to say. Sometimes I don’t have that option. Sometimes I’m pressured or encouraged into doing something or saying something that I’m prepared to do. I have a deep fear of saying the wrong thing. That has played a role in my life for a while. My coping mechanism is to reflect and research on things so I can formulate what I want to say. What I want to push myself to do is to tap more into myself. Raising my self-awareness so that I am able to speak from the heart without letting fear get in the way.

That’s going to be my focus. It’s how to articulate that and not only to articulate it but how can I set up a system for myself so that I can articulate things a little bit faster? I think it is a balance. It gets to the point and maybe I’m in that stage of my life. Also going back, I’ve been like this for most if not all of my life. Some people call it shyness or introversion or whatever it is. I’m rarely the first person to speak up because I like to listen to what other people have to say first. That has helped me. I also feel like that’s my comfort zone. The whole point of this show is encouraging people and ourselves to get outside of our comfort zone and to re-examine ourselves. Sometimes, we have to make decisions on the fly. We don’t always have the luxury of time. There are a lot of urgencies and we need a collective voice.

Everybody's shouting at once. Why can't we take turns, listen to somebody and give them the respect and the time they deserve? Click To Tweet

My work is doing some deep reflection on how I can contribute positively from my heart and tap into the deeper motivations for things. Find that balance of speaking up but not speaking because I feel pressured or speaking because I want to feel validated and have other people know that I have something to say about it. I also feel like there isn’t much harm in sharing something else as you said with Robert Cheeke. It doesn’t have to be your words. You can share a quote or somebody else’s words in a way that is giving them more of a platform too by retweeting something, resharing it, and posting it on your Instagram Story, sharing it on Facebook. I personally like to find one thing to share. I don’t want to bombard people, but if you want to curate a number of things, that can work well too.

Reflecting back why I didn’t post, the only thing that resonated with me was that quote I read. I didn’t post it because I didn’t want to shame anybody. I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was saying, “How dare you to share a picture of yourself.” I feel conflicted because part of me feels it’s a little vain to post a picture of yourself at a protest. Maybe you’re doing that to show other people like, “I’m here. Why aren’t you here?” “I’m here and this is the action that I’m taking.” I don’t know if it’s vanity or not. It’s hard to say. Who am I to judge somebody’s actions? That was the reason why I didn’t post it. It’s because the one thing that hit home for me was that quote. The part of the delicate act here is I don’t want to take sides. Even though I am more on the side of people who have been suffering. If I’m going to take a side, it’s going to be for them. Ultimately, I wish that there would be more unity and equality so we wouldn’t have to take sides. I want to show compassion for everybody and not be judgmental of their actions unless they’re harming somebody else.

MGU 79 | Public Behavior

Invisible Man

There are a lot of dimensions to this. I honestly feel that having some friends and colleagues of ours that are more involved in this movement would be beneficial in episodes very soon. Through this conversation with you and the exploration of everything that’s been happening, having a different perspective of someone who’s been working with civil rights, the rights for people of color, and in the trenches, exploring. Having that perspective on this show feels super compelling. I certainly want to learn more and expand myself as do you from our limited perspectives but hearts full of compassion and a desire to grow and listen. I’m putting that out there that I would like to invite someone on with that voice and that perspective to expand us.

I did not know that this episode was going to go from a strange comedy YouTube channel to this conversation. That’s what’s up in the world. We want to thank you, dear readers, for being on this show with us and being on this journey. We never know where any of the episodes are going to lead to. Certainly, this is not the end of this conversation per se. It’s our current thoughts and feelings on everything that is going on in an intense, kaleidoscopic, and challenging conversation that is happening in our society, but a necessary one ultimately. For any of the resources, the books, the authors, the articles, the YouTube videos that we mentioned in this episode, you can go to Wellevatr.com. You can find all of those resources and links to all of our previous episodes.

We also have lots of free resources on our website and several courses to help you work on your mental health and emotional wellness. That seems to be more important than ever with everything else that is going on in our world. Please take advantage of those free downloads and those courses. You can follow us on all of the social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest @Wellevatr. If you ever want to reach us directly, we always love hearing from you. Our email is [email protected]. Until next time, Whitney, thanks for diving deep as we explore all the twists and turns of this crazy existence. Thanks again to you, dear readers, for being on the ride with us. We will see you soon for another episode. Thank you so much.

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