by Heather Lochner
Just a few months ago, my kids and I took a trip to the Lego store. My son had been saving his pennies and wanted to buy a new Lego kit. He had been eyeing up a Star Wars battle ship and finally had enough sheckles to buy it himself. While I am not a fan of “battle toys,” I do understand my son loves to build these ships and fly them around the house.
As we were leaving, my daughter loudly complained, “why don’t they make any Lego for girls?” My equal- opportunity mothering kicked in and I tried to show her some Lego that would appeal to her; but all she wanted was pink, pretty Lego. So, it was with excitement that I greeted the announcement by Lego of a “girl’s” line. Not because I believed girls need pink, but because my daughter wanted it.
I was about to take my euphoria to Twitter and Facebook, but then I saw the tweets and posts. From people who I respect and like, anger was being voiced at this new development. I saw things like – “So proud to be included in the list of activists who are asking LEGO to rethink their marketing and new products created for girls! The petition submitted to LEGO yesterday has over 47k signatures!” And that was just one of many that I saw.
Suddenly my euphoria ended. At first I doubted myself and my parenting. But then I realized, these comments silenced me. They made me more embarrassed of what my daughter wanted. They made me rethink my voice and my support. My fear of being a lone wolf in a crowd of many, prevented me from typing.
I am a little disappointed in myself. I feel silly that I was intimidated to say, “hey, I like this!” I was more worried about negative tweets than about freedom of expression.
Social media is a great place to have a voice. It is a great medium for public discussion, debate and in some cases activation. But what happens when people feel silenced or embarrassed to voice an opinion? How do we overcome that? How, as a society can we let everyone have an opinion and not feel uncomfortable about expression? Do I need a thicker skin or do others feel the same?