[v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt] Show IPA
I spend too much time on the internet. I have three tabs open right now so I can check my email, watch my Facebook notifications rack up and shop for new band shirts for the boys… while I blog. I run into a lot of characters online, and before I get started you should know, I like them all. Minus the trolls. Trolls divide us further and waste our time. But I like the rest of them, even the well meaning advocates that completely miss their mark.
Have you met these people? They have a cause and they are passionate about it. And I mean passionate. Their Facebook timeline is filled with daily memes and quotes and articles about the miracle of their chosen cause, or causes. For example, I post a metric shitton of stuff about coconut oil, vinegar and avocados. (A metric shitton is an actual unit of measurement I just invented equal to “many”) I threw out all of my store bought cleaners and hide the new ones The Barkeep keeps buying. I have spray bottles of vinegar water everywhere instead. I put it in my laundry. I take a shot of apple cider vinegar to clear my sinuses and use it to make salad dressing. I have coconut oil in my bathroom cupboard, the medicine cabinet and, of course, the kitchen. And I just really like avocados. They keep me full. They replace cheese when I’m doing well about skipping dairy. I am an advocate for these things. I want to inform other people about their benefits. You may recall I also love my cloth diapers (currently sitting unused thanks to all the chlorine in our water right now) and Baby Legs and wearing my babies. I feel strongly about these things and when they come up in conversation I try to control myself as I explain why.
I discovered most of these things online from other advocates. Advocating is a good thing. Sharing your passion is the best thing. I am an advocate for advocating. Do something. Spread the word, teach someone, show someone, just come down off of your high horse first and remember that you most likely weren’t born with this knowledge. And if you were, remember that not everyone came from your background, your income bracket, your side of town, your way of life. We are all learning, even as we advocate, and we should all be accepting of others who are learning at a different pace.
There are some things I feel strongly about that I’m not completely comfortable writing about in such a public format… yet. Sometimes when I present people with the facts about these things and they seem unimpressed, impassive or completely reject the facts, I want to pull my hair out. Then I remind myself, there was a time I was the same way. It’s hard to accept bold new information. They may have to hear it many times from many trusted sources. They may need to see it with their own eyes. They may just need time. They may never agree. This doesn’t mean a person is ignorant or uneducated. I mean, it doesn’t always mean that, I’m not trying to suggest you haven’t met some truly ignorant people, because I have. But not everyone who disagrees with you, no matter how “right” you are, is stupid. Wasting your time trying to convince them that they are is stupid.
I saw a lovely picture online of a father folding laundry while wearing his baby in a carrier. I went to comment and was shocked by the hateful comments before mine, referring to his carrier as a “crotch dangler” and calling him an idiot and a terrible father. Not only was this attack alarming to me, but so was the news that my carrier was actually a crotch dangler and could be harming my children. A “crotch dangler” is basically any forward facing carrier that makes the baby hang in front of you with it’s hips spread apart. This can overstimulate the baby and possibly cause medical issues. Many of the women commenting were claiming to be advocates of baby wearing, but I have to admit they turned me off of the idea for quite awhile. Something I once enjoyed became yet another reason to judge each other and call names. It made baby wearing seem complicated and only for a certain type of person, specifically snarky, know it all bitches. Thankfully I was added to a local baby wearing group on Facebook and discovered that was not (always) the case. I met actual advocates of baby wearing that would happily teach other parents what carriers worked best and how to use them.
An advocate is a person who speaks for a cause, not against others. An advocate should be inclusive and strive to make others feel welcome to their cause, not alienate those with less or wrong information. That’s not advocating, that’s judging. Which is fine, do your thing, just call it what it is. You feel superior because you were informed first. Own it, just don’t call it advocating. It turns people off. If you want other people to join your cause, don’t be a jerk. Now you know better and when you know better, you do better.