Author: Karen Copeland
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how my one word for 2016 is Integrity. Well, I want to write more about that today. Because part of having integrity means being able to pause and reflect on how you can do better. It means taking ownership of your missteps and being accountable for your actions.
I’ve already had my first lesson and we are only 18 days into 2016!
A tweet came across my twitter feed about a week ago that featured a product being sold on Amazon. The product was a red t-shirt with the words “Keep Calm and Kill Yourself”. The product was listed as “Keep Calm and Kill Yourself Kid’s Short Sleeve T-Shirt”.
I was beyond appalled. I hit the re-tweet button to share the original post that blasted Amazon and its CEO, and indicated how appalled I was. In ALL CAPS. Then, I headed over to Facebook, shared a link to the product available on Amazon and shared it there. I effectively jumped on the opportunity to shame Amazon for allowing something such as this to be sold via their platform. I didn’t hesitate.
But, what I didn’t realize was the fact that by making this about Amazon, I was really missing a lot of the story. Thankfully, Aidan Scott came along with his voice of reason, asking me to pause and consider.
To be clear, I am still appalled by the fact that a product such as this exists for sale in our world. I am disappointed that the item was still available for purchase via Amazon for a couple days after (it is now removed, thankfully!).
I reflected on this and realized how easy it was for me to click the share buttons without hesitation. And I realized that when we are faced with something that hits right to the heart of a past or current experience, it triggers us. We feel fear, which turns into anger, which results in not taking the time to pause and consider.
After I paused, I discovered the real story, the real issue isn’t about Amazon, it is about the fact that we have a segment of society that thinks it is okay and even humorous to create an item such as this. Despite all the anti-stigma and awareness campaigns, these attitudes still persist. This is the real issue. And it is the one that Maggie Harder originally set out to address when she first took Amazon to task for allowing the sale of such products.
Liberate Minds is a campaign to stop stigma associated with mental illness. Mental illness is very common, yet there are many ways stigma is present in our lives. We need to be more aware of how we can stop it.
I’m not saying we can’t be angry with Amazon, because arguably there are things they could do as a company to ensure such items are not sold via their platform. But what I am suggesting is that we can channel that anger in a way that will make a difference. That means going beyond shaming to speaking out about why a product such as this is damaging to individuals who are experiencing a great deal of distress in their lives. How it is damaging to families and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide.
For a moment, I lost sight of the real issue; I got caught up in the momentum of social media on Amazon and forgot about thinking about the bigger picture. Thank you Aidan, for reminding me to look deeper and remember what this is all about.
Are you wondering what you can do to raise your voice in support of child, youth and family mental health awareness and acceptance? How you can let Amazon know that products such as these should not be marketed and sold on their site? Please visit Maggie Harder’s website for a downloadable letter that you can personalize and send to Amazon.