About a week and a half ago, I was on Facebook and I commented on a post by Damien Echols, a former death row inmate. Damien’s post was about something to do with freedom and the anxiety of being on the outside after so many years in prison. Anyway, I follow him because I like his photography and his posts are mainly about the joy of living on the outside and the hope that comes with being in the world after all that he has been through.
So, this post was one of a few I had randomly commented on. I usually don`t comment on “page posts” because, well, I just don`t, but every once in a while I like to express a thought I have about something or a feeling that I can identify with or even a hope that I share. I believe my comment was about my hope for Jeremy’s eventual freedom and how his post made me feel like there can be a life after prison, especially when you were sentenced to a life sentence when you were just 18. I made no mention of Jeremy’s name or details because really it was just a comment on the expressed emotion, not on the specifics of my life or who I am married to. I don`t know why I commented on it. I guess partly because I just wanted to put my words somewhere and another part of me wanted to connect with others who were maybe open minded and could be supportive and who I could support. I think that is part of being a human being, right?
One woman, in a short comment, shared her story about her son being incarcerated and expressed her own hope. “Okay, off to a good start. Rad.”, I thought to myself. I then put my phone away and went about my daily errands. Shortly after that I noticed the familiar red bubble near the Facebook app that indicates that you have a new notification. I opened up Facebook right away, like the slave to social media that I can be sometimes, and it said that so and so has commented on my comment on the Damien Echols’ post. I thought maybe there was more on my thread about people identifying with me or my feelings or someone sharing their story as well. I got excited, but I was very quickly deflated when I noticed that it was someone who is trying to “out” me and isolate me in the thread by posting a news story about Jeremy and the person asked me if I knew what my husband is in prison for. There was more to the comment, that I honestly cannot even remember now because I got tunnel vision and deleted my original comment and put a stop to the entire witch hunt before it started. I just could not deal with it at that moment. Not right then, not that day. I seriously thought to myself “Fuck! Am I not even allowed to share in a positive post without having someone shit all over me?”
I started to question whether or not I had the right to post without people ganging up on me. I started to become irate because there I was, just trying to connect and someone took time out of their day to cyber stalk me, find an article, and post it in the thread I was in. “Am I a pariah?”, I asked myself. Maybe I am, but then what does that make anyone who is willing to go against the grain in regards to their life choices and open up about them? Are they pariahs as well? Well, maybe they are. Do I deserve to follow my own path but not be allowed to talk about? Am I allowed to exist in this space that I’ve created? Is this just part of the landscape that I live in?
SO much introspection from one less than stellar comment from some person I do not know and who does not know me and ultimately does not really even know what they are talking about. I believe in evaluation, though, no matter how painful or unfair it seems. Suddenly I felt alone and targeted and like I was on an island by myself and….I just flashed on the Carrie scene where the mom says “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” for some reason. No one is laughing but when I experience comments like this, which is rare, I feel like Carrie, who is getting her period in the girl’s locker room and she is on the floor being pelted by tampons and maxi pads by a mob that relishes in the pain and embarrassment of others.
Public Pariah. Prison Pariah. The word pariah makes me think of piranha. No relation.
Of course, this public presentation has me thinking about my inner circle and what those people think about me. Anyone who has ever had anything negative to express about myself or Jeremy in my inner circle has either never said anything to me directly or they have just blocked me and disappeared. My brain goes to dark places, though, and I imagine people feeling silent contempt for me. I imagine all of this because sometimes being a human being means that although there are a thousand positive comments, the negative few are the ones that evoke the most in us.