Social Media, what can we even say at this point? 3 months ago, it was considered a vice almost, to spend time interacting online, rather than foster “quality in-person relationships.”  Well look at us now, we are a nation essentially forced into homes and are encouraged to ONLY interact with loved ones via media outlets. This is not discriminating, from educational institutions to small businesses, parks, parades, and even churches…instantaneously homebound.  Thus, here we sit, operating from our social outlets, for work, if we are fortunate enough to be able to retain work, and for all of our human social needs.  Apple needs to have a chat with their screen time alert team. I don’t need that kind of judgement in my life, when all I am trying to do is find out whether or not Carol fed her husband to that tiger.  Listen, we are all getting a little kooky and stir crazy.  Many of us are suffering financially and are trying to revamp our way of living to combat the secondary crises this pandemic has caused.  I am not just worried about my kids getting sick, I am also worried about providing for them. I can’t send money to my husband now and that kind of stress is tough to deal with accompanied by fear and depression the actual virus being in our midst is causing. I think all of us with loved ones in prison are annoyed at our friends on these platforms referring to quarantine as lockdown, starting their posts with “Hey Inmates” or saying things like, “I guess we know what prison is like now” followed with some variety of emoji. Choosing to social distance to protect your family and society from the spread of an invisible killer, is hardly prison, even on prison’s best day.  Incarcerated people aren’t sitting on their couch, under a fuzzy blanket, drinking wine and judging Carol Baskin. People in prison don’t have access to regular Zoom parties with friends.  People in prison aren’t able soak in the bathtub, hug their babies, buy nutritious food, or put on gloves and a mask and head out to restock soap and sanitizer. People in prison can’t even social distance right now. Taking into account my obvious opinion on this ignorance, you can probably imagine my reaction to a business using the current pandemic as a marketing ploy and attempting to capitalize off the prison community.  

            Many fitness professionals have opted for virtual training prior to today’s climate as it allows for a broader reach of potential clients. Some have a program designed more for those who prefer at home workouts, others design programs to be used at the gym of their client’s choice. Those “other” professionals are now having to change up their approach for at home use too. This is awesome but it wasn’t awesome to see a half-naked lady in prison orange say, “home is prison” and follow with a video on how to get buff like a prisoner.  The videography was professional and strategic, all the way down to a man coming against a fence and grabbing the chain links.  My heart sank. She went on to talk about body fat reduction and nutrition and how inmates are so ripped, and so will we be if we follow her prison program. 

I dropped a comment that said something along the lines of this: 

“You need to get a marketing team that has social awareness and common sense. There are roughly 10 million people in the US alone that have a loved one in prison.  We are worried to death about their safety in our current situation.  They are squished together like sardines with no way to keep healthy distances. They practically don’t have elbow room to move or rec options to work out right now even if they wanted to. We aren’t in prison, if we get sick, we can go to the hospital, we might not make it, but we won’t go struggling to breathe under a single scratchy blanket. Many inmates are eating a dinner that consists of a peanut butter and jelly on white bread and a banana. They are losing body fat, so there is one point for your program. I am not sure if you are basing this program of a prison fetish or some Conair, Nicholas Cage view of what prison is like, but its uneducated and insensitive.”

After my blood pressure returned to a normal level, I understood that this is a teachable lesson for everyone.  There are many people feeling very sorry for themselves. Easter and the lack of ability to go to church or celebrate as many do, is hard on people. Engaging with loved ones only over the phone or in video conferences is foreign and difficult.  For the loved ones of real inmates this is an old hat. Many of us don’t see those we love best more than once a month, some not at all. We have been carrying on all communications by, phone, email, letter writing, or supervised visits if we are fortunate enough to be able to travel.  Even this has slowed or stopped because visits have been suspended, some have limited access to phones and computers, and some are truly locked down and are unable to let their loved ones know how they are.  Considering the obvious concern those of us are experiencing, and the vast amount of people who have loved ones inside, I find it shocking that people throw words like lockdown, prison, and inmate around as a joke. One in four women in the US has someone in the system. As one of them, I don’t appreciate the ignorant analogies. 

I am fortunate to have been able to connect with this community to receive the support Strong Prison Wives and Families has to offer. I would have been lost without our organization, especially when our loved ones are in a very dark place right now. I heard Oprah say there was nothing for the families of incarcerated people, but she is incorrect. WE ARE HERE.  Ro has been sharing insight and support for years with her community and we meet more beautiful people, through our social media platforms every day. People bring strength in numbers. Thank God for social media. The public might be shell shocked learning how to interact this way, but our community has reached out and supported thousands in this area. Thousands who couldn’t reach out for support in “real life” in their communities for fear of job loss, social stigma, public shunning, and judgement.  People who rely on each other for understanding and information. People counting down the days until their loved ones come home.  People helping each other hold their heads up because a loved one is never coming home. People who saw that man’s fingers wrap around that wire fence and felt a sharp pain in their heart. People that don’t think a business should be capitalizing on a marginalized society. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *