Gossip

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Dear friends, I have a confession: Today I shared a piece of gossip to over 100k people about a group of people I don’t even know.

I didn’t realize the error until hours after I had pressed “post,” but in that short time, my vision of social media and its potency was forever changed.

Let me explain.

This morning while scrolling through my timeline I came across an image of a black woman, fist in the air, standing in front of a group of people who seemed to be marching for a united cause.

The caption read: One Woman vs. 300 Neo Nazis.

I clicked on the link and saw a 70 second video showing the same single image cut together with an explanation that she was protesting a “Neo Nazi march.” The video labeled her an “anti racism activist” and compared her to the famous peace leader Nelson Mandela.

I was immediately moved by the video. I hit “share” on Facebook and proceeded to post the link to my twitter feed.

I am sure many of you might be questioning the error I speak of. Likely you have seen, and maybe even shared, the same video. It evokes historical images of heroes fighting for a noble cause, people standing for what’s right beyond any adversity! Inspiring, right?

Upon greater examination, I realized that I wasn’t looking at an image of Nelson Mandela or Gandhi, and that sharing that video supported the same prejudice and short-sightedness I was naively attempting to address in the first place. I was alienating and judging a whole group of people with no data, no context, and no understanding of what they were marching for in the first place. Now, clearly I do not agree with what I understand to be the philosophy behind the Neo Nazi party, but that’s not the point I am making. And interestingly enough, that’s not the point the video displayed either.

From an objective standpoint we simply saw a group of people, in uniform, marching together for a united reason. There was no violent action happening, no attack – there weren’t even clear signs posted or statements being made about the intent of the group. If not for the caption, I wouldn’t have known what was going on.

But because of my own prejudicial perspective and desire to jump on the bandwagon of a “righteous cause” I directly supported the very issue I so strongly oppose.

There is a quote, sometimes attributed to Voltaire or his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall, that goes something like: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I thought I believed this, but what I demonstrated was not that. It was prejudice, gossip and trial by media.

Without thought, without data, without any valid or founded reasons to back my accusations, I vilified a group of people to deify a single woman.

I believe this happens more than we like to admit. But seeing it is the first step.

Prejudice, violence and hate cannot be overcome using the same process in another form.

Drawing unfounded conclusions and supporting biased propaganda no matter the context is the downfall of civilized communication and just evaluations.

It is so, so tempting to confirm our beliefs through what we think we see, but true ethics comes from the clarity to question all sides and uphold a principle equally in all cases.

I apologize to those I affected. Given the nature of my work I have earned a certain platform of influence. When I impulsively voiced my opinion, I abused the privilege of this platform. The sacredness of the trust placed in me by others demands thoughtful consideration of voiced opinions. From now on I vow to honor your support and attention with the responsibility and care it deserves. I will do all I can to learn from this mistake and spend my time and energy in support of what I truly care about: peace, compassion, honor and justice – in the most noble sense.

If you agree with what I’m raising and want to help increase awareness about these issues, please share this letter.

xo,

A

  • Alan Da Cunha

    Great!

  • Timothy Boehmke

    You inspire awe. Thank you.

  • Alexys Kopp

    Love this, you are such a wonderful person Alli! ??

  • Amanda Soutar

    Allison, you inspire me to want to be even better. many blessings to you and your family. Godbless you

  • Daniel D.

    Well done. <3 U

  • Manuel Andrés Solano Castro

    You are amazing!! What a way to be apologetic. It is in those that have really values in recognising when they have committed a mistake. You have thought us a lesson to all of us that follow you of how to improve ourselves and be a better human beings. Thanks and blessings for that!

  • Allison, I fully agree, Every post I share, even if i’m not in the public eye, goes through some intense scrutiny… As I christian, I am bound to share truth and only truth… we can’t just share something because it moves us, without the proper research that what’s being conveyed is what is really happening..

    That said, I admire your choice of publicly admitting your error and that is truly commendable… Well Done! By doing so, you’ve done so much more than what you would have done if you had not clicked share: you taught your audience: Humility, and Self-Questioning, and that admitting one’s mistake is a grand thing… The final outcome of this is so much better, for your audience now have a hint of those values that make you that person we love and admire…

    Keep it up Allison…

    Reuben 🙂

  • Hey Allison,

    I was just going through my pictures on FB right now and fell on my own Mea Culpa from last month… and as I was reading it, I thought of what you wrote… and figured I should share it with you…

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153444153182407&set=a.10150680275437407.382715.577422406&type=3&theater

  • Beth

    Hey Allison, I do remember scrolling past this video in my news feed, whether from you or another source I don’t remember, although for whatever reason at the time I wasn’t able to watch or share it. Having now seen it a couple of times, I imagine I may have done what you did, except it would have taken me longer to realize I’d liked or shared something I didn’t actually agree with. It’s a very convincing video and confirmation bias can be misleading.

    I applaud the way you dealt with this and appreciate the fact that you take your influential platform as a well known actor seriously. Your reaction to this understandable mistake shows an excellent strength of character (maybe you are being a little too hard on yourself though, it was an honest mistake, in your case an exceptionally honest mistake).

    Having said that, this is an issue that needs to be raised more often and I’ll be sharing your letter on Facebook.

    By the way, while I’m already posting here, not sure if this would be answered on your blog but worth a try. I was recently doing a little research on well known people who lived with disabilities and found an article on Helen Keller and her teacher, apparently best known as Anne Sullivan. Do you happen to know if the name Chloe Anne Sullivan may have been inspired by Anne Sullivan? To me it’s an obvious similarity and now I’m curious.

    Thanks for posting Allison,
    Beth.

  • Nathan Bray

    I love the responsibility, vunerability and integrity I see in this post, I liked the apology enough that recommended it as a great example of how to apologise for poor sharing.

  • Todd Jamieson

    It is nice to see you hesitant to share something without the proper research and effort to make sure of its validity. I do agree that because of your popularity you do have a responsibility, but I also think that each individual involved in social media and even in our communities need to understand, listen, and research more before speaking for a persons word will mean more that way! I know that many respect you for learning from your own self and showing some vulnerability for there are many opinions out in the world that are not thought of too much and are just some recycled information that either has an agenda or is not educated.

  • black scorpion

    🙂

  • Matthew Jutzen

    This just further proves how amazing you are. Learning from your mistakes and trying to make it all right is part of what makes a good person. I’m currently re-watching Smallville, Chloe’s my favourite character.

  • Alan Williamson

    A slight case of look before you leap. Don’t sweat it kiddo, we have all done the same at some time in our lives

  • You make a point not too many people ever make, and apologise for behaviour for which very few people ever apologise. I commend you for that. You had a huge influence on a generation of girls, and I hope based on this post that you continue to have such influence. You’re one of the rare good ones.

  • Gabriel

    Everything on social media and texting can and in a lot of cases will be misconstrued. The feeling of being connected to so many people and yet we slowly lose ourselves to being chained to our technology to keep the feeling. I read a study last week how cases of compulsive disorder and high anxiety have been increasing by large numbers since smart phones have been released. Done ranting now, always been a big fan of yours and happy to know that you are a caring person.

  • ronie

    Posted on facebook, “Always Hold On To Smallville.” https://www.facebook.com/Always-hold-on-to-Smallville-407531542662852/?fref=ts

  • Stephen Pearl

    Nicely said, and a thing that needs to be said more often. Thank you.

  • Ray Pfountz

    My apologies I am new here. Allison, I’ve been following you and your work for over a decade. I find you to be a kind, polite and conscientious person. Intelligent, well read, involved in honorable endeavors and a sensitive soul. I find it honorable to put yourself out there to offer up an apology for making a snap decision, judgement and stepping on another(s) freedom of expression even if the groups actions are deplorable. However not a person alive can say they haven’t done the same a time or two if they have been alive long enough. It happens. But your awareness of another’s right to freedom of expression and recognition of our tendency to be quick to judgementalism shows maturity beyond your years. I personally am very old school. I try to live by a simple rule that keeps my perspective drawn back far enough to see the biggest picture possible in any situation similar to what you experienced and it is,”Make sure the Brain is in gear before the mouth is in motion”. “Try to remember to act instead of react” We are emotional creatures Allison and it’s in our nature to react to what we see, but are we seeing the whole picture?. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You are a wonderful person. It’s been a privilege to watch you grow and develop while honing your craft and entertaining us along the way. You’re a wonderful actress. I look forward to your future projects and hopefully meeting you face to face one day. Your fan, Ray

  • Nil Galliguer

    You’re absolutely right, girl of my dreams! Thanks for existing! #My Crush4Ever

  • Haven Vargas

    Allison, I am behind you 100%.

  • Eric Zombrow

    Something to keep in mind, social media is a dangerous weapon….ever hear the term with great power comes great responsibility. Hopefully more people will learn from you and your honesty.