WritersButt Wednesday – Being mean sucks
Posted by Ginger Calem
Something in the news has prompted me to pull out my soapbox. I’m sorry, I do try to control myself, but I can’t help it. Unless you have literally sequestered yourself away from all media, and if so you won’t be reading this, you will have seen a recent story about Jennifer Livingston, a newscaster in Wisconsin who received a mean-spirited, bullying email from a viewer regarding her weight and how it detracts from her position as a role model in the community.
What the … What!?
In the unlikelihood that you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, here is the video.
Ginger drags out largest soapbox (she’s going to need it) stomps onto box, hands on hips, sassy head-wag primed for action.
One the one hand, I hesitate to address this rogue viewer because it goes completely against my nature to give someone like this any attention. That is what he’s after, attention and the best way to piss him off is to ignore him and pretend he doesn’t exist. Someone who has to cut down someone else to feel important is a nobody in my book. Invisible, inconsequential.
So when I saw Jennifer’s message, I wanted to tell her that he didn’t deserve her attention. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized he wasn’t inconsequential at all. He’s not invisible by the fact that his words are now splashed on every news station, morning show, blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
His ‘message’ to Jennifer has an impact. What kind of impact is up to us, society, to take his message and use it as an example of what is not acceptable, that this sort of treatment of another human being will not be tolerated on any level.
Did he really think she’d read that email and say to herself, ‘Oh my gosh, thank goodness this good, well-meaning citizen reached out to me. That’s just the motivation I needed to lose weight.’
And then when the news station asked the emailer, Kenneth Krause, if he’d like to come on the show in the aftermath of Jennifer’s response, which has been astoundingly supportive of her courageous message, he declined but did pull out his dictionary and offer this response:
Wow! Kenneth is actually offering Jennifer his help! I honestly can’t fathom a single benefit to be gained from a person so self-righteous, rude and misguided.
Mr. Krause, I suggest you sit back and attempt to learn from Jennifer. You can learn things like, dignity, tact, kindness, courage, professionalism, poise, empathy and compassion.
Here’s the deal, I motivate people all the time to get healthy. I do everything I can to empower people, help them believe they are awesome, cheer them on and celebrate their victories, from the big ones to the very smallest steps forward. I try to be positive and encouraging.
You know why?
Because cruelty and insults are not motivating. Someone who truly wants to help someone else isn’t mean to them. So Kenneth’s guise of trying to reach out and be helpful is complete crap.
Ellen DeGeneres tweeted about this incident yesterday, which is where I first heard of it. She was applauding Jennifer Livingston and said she hoped to get to meet her. I hope she does too because I can think of no greater stage to get the message out that being kind and encouraging is more motivating than judgmental cruelty.
I once saw an interview with Ellen where she talked about being a comedian. She commented (and I’m going off memory here, so paraphrasing) on how it’s easier to get laughs by being mean or making fun of other people but that it didn’t feel right. And it wasn’t the sort of comedian she wanted to be. She said she’d rather be funny and still be kind and uplifting to people. To make people laugh and feel good. I’d say she’s doing a damn good job of it.
Thank you, Ellen. Thank you, Jennifer. You inspire me to be a better person.