Monday, July 2, 2018

Can't We All Just Get Along

I saw a video on Facebook a few days ago that I just can't get out of my head. Here is that video. It centers around fur and veganism, but that is not the part I am interested in. Please pay attention to the point of her message. (Video is less than 2 minutes)

QUICK RECAP: This woman was viciously attacked online because in one of her videos some people thought the fur on her coat was real. It's not, but that is not the point. This woman is a certified animal rescuer. Has been vegetarian for over a decade and has dedicated much of her life to helping animals. As she states in the video, she stands in solidarity with the cause that her attackers are promoting. However, their method of hatred made her wish she didn't.

This animal-lover didn't want to be an animal-lover at that moment because of the nastiness thrown her way by other animal lovers.

That statement is why I can't shake this video. It is very powerful and she only scratches the surface of a major problem we have today.

This problem occurs in many areas, but it is the most obviously prevalent in political discourse.

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but the United States is very heavily divided on a number of issues: immigration, gun control, abortion, free speech issues, racial tensions, any mention of Trump, etc. And most people have an opinion about these and many other issues. And people should have opinions. That's what having a brain is all about.

On top of having opinions, we have the freedom in America to express those opinions and discuss them openly. Please do not take for granted how important it is to be able to do this. For the last few years, I have lived in a country where people do not have that freedom.

Seriously! Posting this image on social media inside of China
would have gotten me deported.
Much worse would happen to a Chinese citizen who tried it.

Having the freedom to be able to express our ideas and even be able to disagree with our leaders and each other openly is a wonderful thing, but there is a responsibility that comes with it. We all still have to live together.

I don't know if social media is to blame, but it is definitely the easiest place to see the divide. Many people love to post their politics on Facebook AND they are free to do so. Other people are free to respond to those posts whether they agree or disagree AND (once again) they are free to do so. However, way too often, civility and common respect for our fellow man gets tossed out the window. The person on the other side of our arguments is spoken to as, at best, an uneducated child. At worst, a sub-human Satanic spawn of putrid trash not worthy of using the same oxygen as the rest of the world.

I have seen many arguments unfold on Facebook that just make me cringe. Not at the ideas that are being expressed, but at the tone of language being used by two people who I know have been friends for years. I know of dozens of people who are no longer friends because they could not see eye to eye on some political issue and their vitriolic discourse toward each other eventually crossed a line that permanently damaged their friendships.

There have always been nasty people in the world. People who everyone avoided because they just could not handle being disagreed with. They got nasty if someone had a different opinion. We had a name for those people. They were arrogant assholes.

I don't generally curse on my blog, but that is the best word for this. Those people are assholes. They are. They don't have the basic conversation skills to have a healthy discourse about a topic when everyone in the room is not in total agreement.

It doesn't matter if it is about gay rights, gun control, abortion, immigration issues, tax reform, welfare or anything. If you are being an asshole about it to someone (even online), that makes you an asshole.

The problem today is that "the asshole mentality" is becoming more and more the norm. Due to the ease of finding like-minded people today (television, internet, etc), a person settles for cozying in with their tribe and just hurling insults at the other tribes. Actual discourse and intelligent discussion go out the window. And as the woman in the above video was saying, that method does not win people over. In fact, it does just the opposite. It makes them not only dislike you but take an even stronger stance against the cause you are arguing for.

I have approached many people who I politically disagree with solely because I saw them being verbally assaulted by someone who I actually politically agree with. I've seen people I love say vicious things to other people just because Obama or Trump or Clinton or Michael Moore or Brad Pitt or their mayor said something that they are ready to defend or condemn with their lives.

The worst part about all of this is that most of the time the hot-button issue of the moment is just the issue of the moment. In six months, everyone will have forgotten about it and will be on to arguing about something else. However, the relationship has already been damaged. It's not worth it.

I am not suggesting you avoid sensitive topics of discussion. Feel free to discuss anything you want to discuss, but do not be one of those idiots spewing venom at anyone who disagrees with you. And, this one is just as important, do not engage with those people who do. No good will come of it. Just walk away.


  1. The entire world needs to read this blog post. I have blocked people WHO I LOVE because when I read their facebook feed, I see so much hatred... of strangers and friends. When people lump everyone who shares one view into one box, they discount all the other views that that person may hold. And they don't even know they're doing it - because we probably never discussed that issue in person!

    It hurts me to my core, but I can't have all that hate in my life. BLOCKED!

    1. The grouping people together is what baffles me the most. Many people will take disagreement over ONE to be enough to permanently paint a person as an uncaring, idiotic ______________.

      When they might actually agree with you on almost everything else. You just happened to be talking about the one area where you do disagree.

      I just don't understand the hatred and willingness to seclude ourselves from human connection.

  2. Thanks for this, I hate that for the last few years I scroll right past "friends" who have descended into this madness. I considered them rational but am wondering how well I know them. I seriously consider removing myself from Facebook but remember I would be the one suffering by losing contact with far flung family and friends. PK

    1. Facebook has just started a new test for filtering itself. A few people already have it. You can go in and define keywords you want scrubbed from your feed. Then, any post with one of those words in it will not show up. You could type in Republican, Democrat, Trump, president, politics. And that should eliminate most political posts.

      I enjoy Facebook too much to ever leave. But I am happy to unfollow and unfriend people.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!
    What's *really* sad is that people are actually self-congratulatory over having been hateful and cruel to others.
    Yeah, way to go, dude!

    May we add "unthinking" as a modifier of "asshole", please?

    1. There's a couple of guys over here in Vietnam in one of the forums I'm a part of who jump on everybody for everything. Discussions about anything from air quality, local policies, restaurant recommendations etc. One of them will say something nasty to someone in the comments and the other one jumps in to tell the first guy how brilliant he is and how well he put that person in their place. And really all he had done was state his opinion (which he is entitled to have) in a condescending way. Why be proud of that? That just pumping your chest out to say "Yeah. I'm an asshole. I know it."

      Unthinking works for me.


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