In Feeding Frenzy there comes a point where Summer and Lia have to leave their inclinations and preferences behind, get past their prejudices and listen to the person they think needs saving. They don’t agree with her, but you know what? What grown, competent people need isn’t up to us. It’s up to them. Even if we don’t like it.
Please listen to each other. Not just to the feelings their words inspire in you, but their actual words, and the ideas they are clumsily trying to capture. Think about it. Wrestle with it. See if there’s space there for compromise, or entertaining new ideas.
That is, of course, unless their ideas have a strong likelihood of causing someone imminent bodily harm. When we see hateful speech, or violence, silence is tacit approval. Be a big damn hero. The battle won’t look like a demon, most likely. It will look like a friend on social media, or an old lady on a bus. And you will not have a sword of righteousness. You are armed with compassion, and a plan. Here is my humble suggestion for everything from saving people getting chatted up in bars to watching unbridled xenophobia on Twitter:
- When interceding on someone’s behalf, they are the priority. Check in with them first. When someone has an invective thrown at them, ask them if they are okay. Ask if they feel safe or need help.
- Their safety remains priority. If they say they are fine, stay nearby. Strike up banal conversation if it’s appropriate to both show that you disapprove of the attacker, and to make space for the person attacked. If they are not fine, ask if you can help them. Walk them into a public space or police station. Physically put yourself between them and their attacker. Offer to help them get an Uber wherever they’re going, or wait with them until a friend shows up. Surround them in that chitchat, even if it’s one-sided, to block out the attacker’s words.
- Stay with them after the attacker is gone. See if they need to call anyone, if they need water or a statement for the police. Most people who feel unsafe will get a surge of adrenaline which keeps them from processing the event as it’s happening. Allow them to process (as in “cut unwanted chitchat at this point”).
- Avoid physical altercations whenever possible. Do not address the attacker directly unless you have to do so to stop them from physically harming their intended victim–yelling at them may feel good, but it does nothing for the victim, and will likely only escalate the level of violence. Do not wade into fights if you don’t know how to de-escalate them. That is a great way to end up in a hospital and in court. Repeat it again: The victim is the priority.
- This is important. You will not “win” against the attacker. You are not there to crush them. You are there for who? You got it. The victim. Call the cops. Film. Comfort the person who was attacked. Live to fight another day. You’ve made your point even if it doesn’t feel like it was anywhere near enough. God, do I know those feels.
Stay strong, stay safe. If you have the ability, build doors when you see walls. Tag someone else in when you’re tired. Summer and Lia don’t work as a team for nothin’. It’s good to remember we’re not alone. You’re not alone. I see you, and I care about you. I swear to banish monsters as they appear.