Cover art for podcast #PERSPECTIVES With Sharon Pearson

#PERSPECTIVES With Sharon Pearson

55 EpisodesProduced by Sharon Pearson

Sharon Pearson shares how to discover, awaken, and connect with your Ultimate You, leading to a happier, more fulfilled life. She brings her 17 years' experience as an entrepreneur, life coach, author and creator of mindset models to make life easier. Sharon Pearson is the founder of Australia's lar… read more

1:21:46

‘The Tweet I Wish I Could Take Back’ with Natasha Tynes # Perspectives podcast with Sharon Pearson

Zero: ‘If I could take this back I would’

—Sharon Pearson is “absolutely intrigued” to be speaking with Natasha: “These types of stories fascinate me and to be able to speak with someone who has experienced it and to unpack it is one of the most important conversations in this day and age.”

—Natasha recounts what happened on the day that changed her life: On her way to work on the Washington DC train system she saw a uniformed railway employee “breaking the Metro rules” by eating on the train. “I’ve been lambasted before by Metro employees for eating a banana on the platform so I was really baffled this was happening in plain sight.” The employee told Natasha “worry about yourself, so I decided to tweet about the incident.” She admits, “to be completely honest I should not have done this. I should have used a more private way of filing my complaint. If I could take this back I would.”

—Sharon notes, “Not the smartest tweet.”

—Natasha: “I admit I made an error in judgement but I’m human. We all make mistakes. I should have used a more private manner of complaining.”

—Asked what she was thinking at the time, Natasha—who has a masters’ degree in journalism and worked in the field for almost 20 years—“felt like she was exposing the hypocrisy of the DC Metro.” She had tweeted about them before and “I was approaching it from a journalist explaining what is happening … I kind of got lost in the moment. The journalist instinct clouded my judgement.”

—Sharon: “All around the world every day people are bringing whatever is going on in the circumstances of their lives. They’re going to show poor judgement. Before social media we used to show poor judgement with a friend. I don’t think we’ve made the adjustment at all to realise we’re speaking to an audience and not a person, and that’s substantially shifted how this narrative takes place.

8.30 ‘An absolute witch hunt’

—Sharon says social media means “we’re basically tweeting onstage and I don’t think most people are thinking about it.” She says there are parallels with the Salem witch trials in the 1690s: “It felt like an absolute witch hunt. You were literally hounded out of the country.”

—She wants to put the conversation delicately and respectfully: “I get that tweet was dumb. Poor judgement. So does my guest. You would take it back. You apologised. I’m trying to have it in a way that is fair to so many narratives. Whatever you think about that tweet, if your next thought is, ‘She deserved it’, you’re wrong. The point you decide you are judge, jury and executioner on a complete stranger we have not evolved at all. We’re never going to advance in terms of community and humanity if we are stuck in this game where one mistake leaves people’s lives cancelled.”

12.11 I’m going to take a moment. “We’ve lost the plot. There is no way what happened should have happened. I’m going to hold myself together.”

—Natasha deleted the tweet after 49 minutes when she started getting comments. Then her phone started beeping and “suddenly on social media I was bombarded by people from everywhere. The shocking part for me was, I get the snitch part, but I was shocked they called me racist. I was like ‘where did this come from?’ I was not targeting the employee because she was African American. How did this turn into a racist situation? That was absolutely not my intention and the way it was interpreted blew my mind and it was so unfair and so wrong. I started getting death threats.”

—Sharon struggles to read some of the abusive tweets and Natasha says she still gets them a year on: “I’m still being accused of being a racist and a snitch and for me the hardest part of all this was how my publishers dropped the book. The statement the publisher made was so hurtful … as if they never knew me. I was accused of systemic racism. I was like, ‘hey, can somebody explain what’s going on here? It just broke me.”

—Natasha was hospitalised the day of her tweet then found out her publisher Rare Bird dumped the book she worked on for five years.

—Sharon says it’s the “ultimate form of gaslighting to be told you’re a bad person for one act that showed poor judgement” and reads the Rare Bird statement saying Natasha “did something truly horrible” and “we think this is unacceptable.”

—Natasha reveals what she would say to her publisher: “I would say they caved into the pressure of the online media and were worried that their business and brand would be hurt.”

23.00: A TOUGH ENVIRONMENT

—Sharon notes it would have been easier to cancel than to ride it out: “We’ve seen established artists completely cancelled and nobody has stood by them.”

—Natasha says she didn’t have the chance to discuss it but “I could have said there was no intention of racism, just give me the chance to tell you what was in my heart before you basically throw me under the bus and label me racist.”

—Look at editing the uni stuff. “I’m talking about proportionality. Natasha did a dumb tweet and she took that down after 49 minutes, the publishers then extended the narrative and kept the story going. If we’re not capable of the subtlety of this and the nuance of this, we’re lost. It’s going to become black and white absolutism … we’re coming for you.”

—Natasha says she believes if the publisher hadn’t dumped the book the media wouldn’t have reported it, “but because of the cancellation the story was covered all over the world, BBC, Canada, Australia, shocking. Suddenly my face is everywhere.” Growing up in the Middle East she lived through two Gulf Wars but “this was the most difficult thing I ever went through and it scarred me forever. I think about it every single day.”

—Sharon notes it’s only been a year and Natasha is still traumatised. “You still have a journey to go. Social media is the village square. I’m not making excuses or apologising for the tweet, the tweet was the wrong tweet to do, I’m talking about proportionality. Do you think if these people had to face you they would have said these things to your face?”

31.43: The madness of crowds

—Natasha references The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray. “You’re more likely to be mad when there are other mad people around you,” she says. In her case, “it was the madness of the crowd that happened and man many were trolls, a lot of people with no identity. Some of them were big influencers.”

—Sharon asks what is the way back for someone who makes a mistake in public, and “I am going to preface that by saying everyone is making mistakes every day … is there an apology that’s good enough?”

—Natasha: “No matter what you say, they’re going to tear it down. For me, the way back is I went back on social media. If I gave up and did not go back on social media it means that I just gave in , I listened to them and I am the person they showed me to be.”

—She’s back tweeting about her book They Called Me Wyatt, which she got a new deal for. “The fact I’m back shows I’m still the same person and I made a mistake but I’m going to continue being who I am. Yes you crushed me but I’m still alive. By doing that you show them that you’re moving on and they should move on as well.”

—Sharon urges “move on people, get a life” as Natasha says it makes them feel good about themselves: “They feel they are a social justice warrior. The culture of the US is so divided now. It’s a very charged atmosphere. They are the social justice warriors and they feel good at the end of the day: ‘I get on line and tell the racist you are a racist, I’m the good person, then I go and watch Netflix and drink my beer.’ But you don’t know how you’re tearing down the person you’re labelling a racist.”

39.05 “I was suicidal’

—Sharon notes “so you just covered virtue signalling, call out culture, cancel culture, identity politics and intersectionality. Let’s start with cancel culture: what are your views?”

—Natasha talks about a stand up comedian accused of plagiarism or lying who toughed it out and went back on Twitter because he wanted his life back. “I wanted to be like him. I feel guilty, I feel ashamed, I have all these feelings but I want my life back. Social media was my job and it was a big part of who I am and who I was, and if I just disappear and die, that’s what the mob wants. And I didn’t want the mob to win. It’s basically to say cancel culture cannot win. I made the mistakes, there were many lessons learned. I would [now] never use my social media platform for the negative. To be human is to err. If you’ve never made a mistake you’re a robot. Or you’re lying.”

—The happy ending is her new book deal.

—Sharon asks “at what point have you paid enough?” and talks about communications executive Justine Sacco who lost her job in 2014 for an inappropriate tweet.

—Natasha had reporters camped outside her house and ended up heading home to Jordan to be supported by family and friends: “I felt I needed to be with my own people.”

—She admits she “was a mess. Mentally I was suicidal. No sleep, panic attacks, I was a complete mess. All these darkest of dark thoughts. And I’m still dark. I’m still not that happy person. I’m not happy now. I’m still suffering I feel from what happened.”

—Sharon talks about Justine Sacco’s satirical tweet; “Again. I’m not defending this … I want this podcast to be representative of anyone who has made a mistake in public. To speak about how you showed poor judgement, to attempt to atone for it and still not have a clear pathway back with the Twittersphere or social media. It is on us to look at ourselves.”

52.40: THE PATHWAY BACK

—Warning she is going to “rant” a little, Sharon says “the moral narrative has gone horribly off the tracks. Morality is not you are never allowed to offend anyone … you are allowed to make a mistake, you are allowed to atone and apologise and be a whole person and not be defined by our worst moment. And I bet that wasn’t your worst moment. I’ve done worst moments than what your tweet was. We should be defined by our character and by what we contribute to society, not by 20 seconds of ‘I wasn’t thinking’. This podcast is really me finally after so long speaking publicly about something I feel very passionate about. If you don’t have a pathway back, what hope do we have? What happens to people who actually do bad acts and mean them? And the irony is the woke community feels more compassion for a convicted criminal who gets released and gets to come back to society than they do for you.”

—Natasha says the reaction against her is “because the crime I was accused of is racism. In a way I basically jay walked and received a death penalty. I was thrown into the racism narrative in the US and the years of racism and injustice and all of that, and you know I was just a victim of this honestly because I am an immigrant myself.”

—Sharon: “The only question I care about is what kind of world do you want to live in? We can put people on the moon but still can’t pull off politeness.”

1.00.46: LESSONS FROM A CAUTIONARY TALE

—Asked what she’s learned from “this cautionary tale”, Natasha says she used to be “under the mistaken belief” that complaining on social media was a good way to get a quick response. Now, “I want to use my social media influence for the positive. I don’t want to try to take someone down or complain.” She is more empathetic and says at the moment of her tweet, “I lacked empathy and I admit that and now I’m really careful about how I view people, how I talk to them. My motto: just be kind.”

—Sharon: “If you have bad news say it privately. If you have good news, say it publicly.”

—Natasha views what happened to her as a “humbling experience … I feel it changed me for the best, regardless of the trauma.”

—Sharon notes “let’s all agree we’re here for empathy, that the world is a better place if we’re kind. Now the key is to act on that. That whole thing could have been defused early if you were extended good intentions. I just don’t see the train turning at all, we seem to be really committed to cancel culture and piling on and tearing someone down.”

—Natasha reveals she had some supporters who had her back, including her African-American and African friends, “and that was very heartening.”

—Sharon talks about a Masai redemption tradition she follows in life and business: “The moment someone stumbles in their humanity that is the time to stand beside them and say, ‘It’s okay, you’re human, you made a mistake. It does not define you, it will never define you. I measure love by the capacity to stand beside somebody in their hour of need.”

—Natasha says having They Called Me Wyatt published “feels good. First of all I thought it was too good to be true. There’s actually hope you can cancel everything, books, activities, but you cannot cancel hope.”

—She notes “this is also a story about second chances. One was extended to me when I thought nobody would takek a chance on me. It’s a story about second chances and rebuilding and coming out of the rubble and just trying to find a way back after 22 years of career was shattered.”

—Sharon wishes Natasha well: “You are defined by the whole length and breadth of your life and who you love and the moments that have been magical for you are ones you are still to create.”

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