I’m going to work very hard here to not lean in any political direction. Being vague, yet opinionated is my goal here. Have mercy on me. It’s not easy.
Everyone has a favorite person, party, opinion and level of personal vitriol they are willing to project at any given time, but no time seems to be more precarious than during an election cycle. I do wonder why my personal opinions (that can often be quite, um, intense) don’t seem to bother me, but when I read a differing opinion, I get rather offended. Although as we Americans have a right to free speech, I tend to get *angry* at what I view as a mean spirited attack on someone, yet it’s easy to justify things as their’s and my rights to say what is on our mind is an intrinsic right in my country.
Being the parent of two children with Autism, and seeing the bullying and discrimination thrown at them over the decades, it is quite a simple event for me to fly into a rage when I read other people making fun of someone for their appearance, their speech, their disability. It’s quite shocking how everyone talks about how we want leaders who are experienced, kind, brimming over with eloquent diplomacy and highly educated, yet it is not that often that we get anywhere close to that entire package.
That statement is exactly how I feel. I read a post from someone yesterday that truly upset me a great deal. Yes, I know I got my feathers ruffled, but the person had the RIGHT to say what they did and it is their opinion. I don’t have to read, react or otherwise even think about what they said. However, they were making fun of someone in the political arena. It shocked me that the individual would go out of their way to mock the person for a DISABILITY and not the content of their character. No matter where your political leanings lie, there seems to be an oft one-sided justification to belittle the person you don’t like.
I get it, you don’t like their suit, their dress, their blouse, the way they handled a particular situation. That’s what opinion and expression is all about. Throw in the right to free speech (barring threatening someone or implying harm which is not OK and violates rules and laws in many cases) and that person can talk about someone in any way they like. This is where things get murky and gray for me. I have friends with wildly differing opinions on many matters, but where does one draw the line? Finding out that someone is willing to mock someone with a disability crosses a line for me. For others, they pay no heed and seemingly don’t realize that others are reading, listening and paying attention.
Several years ago, I was very involved in reading, reacting, freaking out and so forth to many political posts out there. I wound up removing several *friends* from my Facebook page and never looked back. My personal justification being, if a certain person upset me that much about their viewpoint, then why would I want to be their *friend*? It is a tough question to answer. I recall the old cliche’ to never speak of politics or religion while in polite company. I always think back to my post about the word friend on Facebook and how the definition of friend has changed with the advent of the Facebook age. People I haven’t seen since high school and really weren’t friends with are a part of my every day life. Once they start posting political and religious stuff however, I tend to put them on ignore/unfollow, delete the pages they post from from showing on my feed or remove them altogether if their opinions are something I personally cannot tolerate.
Next, we have the “passive/aggressive posts” on Facebook like the one above. Well, as a fledgling foodie of sorts, I would rather spend all day looking at recipes, posts of meals others have made/ordered etc than read a political post. Belittling someone for posting about their vacation, their baby, their new outfit, a special meal, or whatever the occasion may be is part of what makes up Facebook. Trying to “call someone out” for being themselves doesn’t make any sense to me. For example, I don’t like sports of any kind. I don’t watch them, follow them, participate in them. However, I respect my friends’ and family’s love of them and read their posts about it. I have my personal reasons for not liking sports and that’s on me. However, don’t bully me for me not liking it.
Back to the horrifying world of a current election year. Thankfully, I have a special, free filter on Facebook that not only blocks ads, autoplay on videos (seriously, I would pay this guy to make one for Netflix trailers, but that’s another post), and I can even filter out specific words. So, if I don’t want to read ANY posts ever about, let’s be fictional, John Doe’s political campaign, I can filter it out. It’s dramatic if I feel the need to do that, but if I don’t want to scroll by, or if I feel I don’t want that in my life I can invoke the filter.
Perhaps what it all boils down to is something of a mishmash of the above statement. Do I completely not mind differences of opinion? In theory, no, I don’t. However, when those opinions are “low blows” or nasty filled hatred that mock, belittle or bully, then yes I do. Also, how does one define hate? If you despise a certain widget, do you talk about how the widget hurt you? (For example, a product maims someone you care about, so you are angry and post how upset you are) However, if the maker of the product says that they aren’t responsible and the person who was hurt bears all the blame, then POOF, it becomes personal. How dare they say that? Your loved one was hurt and the maker needs to take responsibility. They are evil/mean/selfish or other such things pour forth from your fingertips. So really; it’s all subjective to a certain point.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that despite all the angles, the topics, the anger, the boiling over of opinion, this above is what we SHOULD be doing, yet so many aren’t, including myself. I go back and read some things I’ve said and sure, I do cringe a bit and wonder if I should remove/retract/restate. I probably won’t because maybe that particular issue and what I said was in some way cathartic for me. Anyway, enough of my babbling…maybe we can be nice to each other…a little?