Clicktivism, or, The Power of Samuel L Jackson
I’ve been blogging for a few months now, and I think it’s time you meet some of my friends:
Or at least this is what they looked like on Thursday, if you saw their profile pictures on Facebook. Let me tell you why:
On Thursday, I had an encounter with someone I used to respect, someone who once held a fair amount of influence on me, despite the fact that we did not know one another very well; in fact, it was more that we knew of one another, instead of actually knowing much about each other. Nevertheless, we had a long discussion on Thursday. A horrible, demoralizing conversation that left me shattered. A conversation in which my struggles from last year were not only brought up, but thrown in my face with the accusation that I hadn’t changed or grown or healed at all.
In short, Thursday became the sixth worst day of my life.
When I left that meeting, I had the good fortune of having to drive past my hometown. It only cost me about 15 extra minutes of driving, but somewhere along the way, I went into auto-pilot until I was in the parking lot of the hotdog dive that I hadn’t been to since high school. While I sat there in that booth, eating the best french fries in the world, I let myself stop being a pastor, stop being present-day Cindy, and I just let myself be. Leaving the parking lot, I decided to go to the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I hadn’t been there to clean off the stones in at least a year, and I needed to do that. I drove to the first marker and was glad to see that someone else had already cleaned it. I looked at it for a few minutes, staring at my surname on the stone. I drove to the next stone, pulled back the overgrown grass, paused while looking at the hummingbird carved in the stone, and though cold and windy, it was peaceful. A place where I could just breathe, where the only people who knew I was there were the old ladies in the office, content to let me stand there, skirt whipping in the wind, not asking me questions or hurling accusations or needing anything from me.
So what does Samuel L Jackson have to do with this?
I told a few of my friends about the fall-out, and they graciously messaged me for most of the rest of the day, listening when I needed to talk and distracting when I needed it – which included sending a YouTube video containing some of the best cussing-outs in cinematic history. I commented that many of them at the beginning of the montage were Samuel L Jackson (“SLJ”), and before we knew it, Jeff and I had both changed our profile pictures to SLJ, deciding that while we can’t go on a profanity-laced rant, we can let SLJ’s portrait do it for us. Then Cameron changed his, and then Kelsie, Ange, Noonie, and Melissa.
“YOU CAN’T SCARE ME – I’VE GOT A TEAM OF SAMUEL L JACKSONS TO BACK ME UP!”
People asked us if SLJ had died, or if it was his birthday. Without going into details in a public place, we simply explained that haters were hating, and SLJ was staring them down. I went to bed completely drained, but resting solidly with the knowledge that I had friends to back me up.
Friday morning was my annual review with my boss.
I woke up late. The dog was sick. Nothing started out well, until I looked at my Facebook feed, where I saw picture after picture of Samuel L Jackson – each one a friend who loves me. Each one, a friend who supports me. Each one, a friend who has been there through the hardest season of my life. Trying to hide my nerves, I wrote “SLJ” on the back of my hand and walked into my review, this time, done by someone who knows me much better and who knows what this ministry has been.
A review that was incredibly positive, encouraging, and so completely opposite of the prior day’s encounter that I walked out in shock. I wasn’t all those things that person had said the day before. I knew they weren’t true, my friends knew they weren’t true, and my boss knew they weren’t true.
“BEHOLD THE POWER OF SAMUEL L JACKSONS!! THERE ARE NO MORE SNAKES ON THE PLANE!!”
That was the post that let my friends know that all was well, and when I had more time, I explained that everything had gone well. We changed our profiles again, letting SLJ lie dormant, but SLJ changed me a little bit that day.
For all of the stupid “change your profile picture in support of ________” campaigns that circulate on Facebook, this one wasn’t stupid for me. This one bit of “click activism” (as Kelsie put it; I shortened it to “clicktivism”), informal and not very far-reaching, is one that my friends did for me. A silly little thing that gave me a way to tell them about how devastated I was (instead of keeping it hidden), gave them a way to encourage me, and, for about 19 hours, was a visual reminder that I wasn’t alone. Though I doubt any of the haters saw the collective stare-down, I did, and it made all the difference in the world to me.
I hope I don’t need to call on the power of SLJ (or any of the other tough guys we’ve lined up) again, but I know that if I do, it’s not far away, and knowing that it’s (they’re) there makes all the difference.