DancingMan really got to me. I saw the original tweet and followed the story and thought the ending was super awesome and that a good thing happened from a not so good intention.
Except I haven’t stopped thinking about it all day. I have been sitting here editing images from a client shoot this morning and for some reason I can’t get the thought of dancing man’s tormentors out of my mind.
Because there is a little bit of those people in all of us, the type of people who glance, who smirk, who giggle. The people who nudge their companions hoping to assuage the secondhand embarrassment they are presumably feeling when a person does something that we aren’t comfortable with.
Perhaps it is the sort of thing that prompts this behaviour that really gets to me. I see this happen a lot, I read comments like “look at the state of her” or “OMG CRINGE” in reaction to people who don’t even dare to be different, they are just being. In the case of Dancing Man his crime was to dance. And for some reason the person who made him feel like he shouldn’t was so proud of making him feel bad they posted a picture of his crestfallen face on the internet.
The thing about the internet is that is is a tool for validation. Somewhere there is a community of people who share your thoughts and opinions and usually they will find you. People will add fuel to your fire and tell you that yes! They agree! How dare someone enjoy themselves at a mixed social gathering! How dare he attempt to dance! Burn him!
Whilst this is commonplace on the Internet, it is (as we have seen) a tremendous catalyst for good. These ladies reached out to Dancing Man and let him know that it wasn’t okay that someone made him feel like he shouldn’t dance and have fun. And it was brilliant. I hope he feels great about himself now because he should never have been made to feel bad in the first place.
The thing about humans is that none of us are perfect and we all know it but we are all secretly under the impression that it’s just us who are failing. It’s simple to look at someone doing their thing, nod and smile and think “fair play” but why are so many people reluctant to do this? I have a similar feeling about contestants on the X Factor, the ones which are kept in because they are deemed as being so awful they are ideal car crash television fodder. Sometimes, amid the delusion and ego that inevitably occurs with the type of person drawn to reality TV there is a person who is just doing their thing. Maybe they love to sing, perhaps God didn’t bless them with natural rhythm but dancing makes them the happiest person alive. Maybe they know all of this and are aware that you know it too but to hell with it all because they are really, really enjoying themselves. To those people I say “keep on keeping on”.
When I read about Dancing Man I was reminded of every teenage friend I had who would tell me not to do something because it was embarrassing. I remembered being laughed at for singing because people were looking. I remember hiding a pair of trousers my Mum had bought me which I really, really loved but was too embarrassed to wear because a group of girls laughed at me on non school uniform. Stop it, pipe down, ASSIMILATE.
I’m a big girl now. I tap-dance in Superdrug, sing 90s R&B when waiting at cashpoints and wear things I KNOW I cannot carry off but to hell with it because I will be dead longer than I will be living and nobody cares anyway. But even now at my age I still cannot fathom why its easier to default to laughter when people stand out to us in some way.
Except I do, I do know why. Every time one human makes a decision that involves the other human not doing something that is inherently them, like laughing, dancing, singing or dressing like a Fraggle, have a listen to what they say versus what they don’t say. You will hear, loud and clear- “Don’t!!!!! You look stupid”, “Don’t!!!! it’s EMBARRASSING”. Don’t stand out, don’t draw attention, blend in and be like everybody else. Or perhaps “Oh my GOD LOOK at him/her! How EMBARRASSING. They shouldn’t… he shouldn’t, how could they?”
What we are witnessing here Ladies and Gentlemen is a bit of an internal battle. What is actually being said is “I see you. I see that you are O.K with yourself right now and I don’t like it one bit. You are the square peg to my round hole and I wish I could be like you”. But then, it is easier to make someone question everything they are, to spread your own shame like a fungus than own up to being a bit insecure about yourself.
And so the fun-deniers tell the people that threaten them that they don’t fit in…that they aren’t in the club. They imply that fun and joy should be denied them and snort in glee at the moment when they let on, for just a fleeting moment that they have been made to feel just as miserable as they do. They overlook the reason why these folk dance- or perhaps they choose to ignore the reality. That they see them too and they dance, determined not to be like those joyless assholes clinging to the wall. They see everyone and they choose to be themselves being like everybody else is simply too miserable to comprehend.