Compassion: What does it mean to you?

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, way more than the average person. Because it’s my job, I’m always monitoring business pages, writing social content and putting out small little fires. Because I’m on so much, I “see” everything but I often don’t “engage” in the real juicy stuff; the politics, the human rights issues, the opinions about music, bands, fashion. Lately though, I’ve been really bothered by some of the things my Facebook “friends” are posting.

The first came up about a week ago, when somebody commented that they didn’t see how it was possible for a person who regularly runs 5Ks and 10Ks to be overweight. They were discussing how one of their customers is plus-size and “claims” to run 5Ks. They didn’t believe that she actually ran 5Ks because of her size.  As someone who is well on their way to being “fit fat”, I was really offended by the notion that just because somebody is heavy, they’d have to be lying in order to successfully run a 5k. I know many, many larger people in my life who are incredible athletes – marathon runners, body builders, Zumba teachers, Yogis. Is it uncommon for someone who’s big to be in shape? Sure. But if you take the time to get to know big people, not all of us sit on our duffs, lick Cheeto powder off our fingers and lie about running 5Ks. I found it so offensive that she would just assume fat = lazy and incapable of physical activity. Am I being too sensitive?

The second was a post about fat people ordering diet coke as a drink with their fattening meal, and how fat people think obesity is “the solution, not the problem”.  The rare times I have a cheat meal, I order diet coke, because I prefer the taste and it’s less calories. You don’t have to blow EVERYTHING, and a small swap like a diet coke over a regular will save me about 140 calories. When every calorie counts, that’s a lot. I get it, in theory. Sure, it’s about 140 calories, big deal. But this isn’t fair. I want to write on my Facebook how funny it is when skinny people order coke and fries and never gain weight. Why can’t I make fun of your dietary habits, too? But I won’t do that, because I get it. Life is different for everybody. Your diet is your diet, your business. And if you want a diet coke with your fries, so be it.

I guess the point of all this is that so often, I think people forget about COMPASSION. Compassion means taking a few minutes to imagine what life is like in another pair of shoes. As I’ve grown older and cast my net wider, I’ve been fortunate to experience some things that have made me really respect and value the differences in humanity. I don’t value all of them, of course, because bigotry, greed and arrogance are not things I’m compassionate about, but I’ve gone through some things the past few years that have made me really THINK about what things are like for the person on the other side.

My best friend and I were g-chatting today, and she asked how my fitness was going. I told her what I’d been doing and how I felt frustrated seeing so many people have such success on their weight loss journey when it feels like I’m going at a snail’s pace. She said to me “I see how hard you work, and you’re healthy, and I want you to love you for who you are.” That validation felt SO GOOD for me – to know that yeah, I may not be shrinking into a size 12 (YET), but my hard work isn’t going unnoticed.  She gets it. She’s a compassionate person. She gets it.

Have you ever encountered the nasties on Facebook? How do you deal with it? I sometimes wish I could snap back with a witty little line, but I know it’s not worth the time and energy it will take out of me. My sister has a great story about a very similar topic, when she recently called out some jerk for saying that he found it shocking that girls don’t just stop eating when their jeans get tight. Again… a person lacking compassion, who must not know what it feels like to have tight jeans, or maybe, he just doesn’t care. This doesn’t just apply to weight related comments… I see stuff like this all the time, like the person who recently posted that gay people are just looking for attention and the real reason they want to get married is so that they can be on “Divorce Court”. Umm… ok. I respect your freedom to have your own opinions, but really? REALLY? You’re going to typecast a whole group of people with one ridiculous stereotype? Open your mind. Be compassionate.

Today, think about compassion. What does it mean to you? How do you live it? How do you know it?


5 thoughts on “Compassion: What does it mean to you?

  1. Wonderful post! I think a lot of people lack empathy for others. People don’t often stop to think about what the other side might be going through. On the internet people often make knee-jerk reactions and are quick to judge. Also like you, even though I’m on social media all day long I don’t find myself commenting on people’s posts. There are many times that I began typing a retort to someone’s post but then I go back and delete before hitting enter because I just don’t want to deal with a long back and forth.

  2. First, *HUG* and this is beautifully written, pinguino!

    It breaks my heart that people think that everyone’s lived experience is fair game for them to criticize. I’m sorry Mr. or Mrs. bigoted asshole, but my life is NONE of your business. Just because I have to publicly exist in this world does not make my existence, or anyone else’s existence, fodder for your judgmental crap.

    Compassion, often, at least to me, is keeping your judgmental thoughts to yourself. We all have them, to be sure, but we also have the self-control to not verbalize them AT ALL TIMES. There’s no reason to justify your discomfort with someone else’s life by loudly denouncing it or laughing at it in a public forum like the internet.

    Also, being a jerk lowers your chances of getting laid. SCIENTIFIC FACT. Huzzah!

  3. I recently had a “friend” make a status update about how people who spend time on the treadmill are “dumb and destroying their metabolism.” I felt like it was so judgmental, maybe it’s a cardio day for them, maybe they are training for a race, or maybe they just like running! We don’t know the story inside every person so we have no right to open our mouths!

    In this case and most cases, I don’t make a comment or reapond. I guess I don’t have the guts to say something.

  4. OMG – that is just annoying. There were plenty of “larger” people who were ahead of me during the half marathon! They kicked my ass so it isn’t about size.
    It’s hard for me to stay quiet. For example the big thing in facebook is the marriage equality decision with the supreme court… It’s so hard to see people quote a book as their reasoning for why a law shouldn’t be validated in our country. I sometimes post on my facebook. It’s passive aggressive, but I also don’t see the point of arguing with someone over the internet!

    .. You are not being over sensitive. People need to think before they post, but alas that is the world in which we live. Post now, think and apologize later.

  5. People are very quick to judge, yet don’t like it when they are being judged by others. I admit to doing the same thing, though!

    I have a lot of weight to lose, but I have been working out, and while I have a long way to go, I am surprised myself sometimes at the workouts I can finish. It is possible to be overweight and still able to accomplish a tough workout!

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