_Disclaimer: this post is a general observation of late. I was grouchy when I wrote it, so please excuse my lack of etiquette when you find it. _
I am exhausted. I am completely and utterly exhausted. I am exhausted because there’s so much awfulness in the world to fight against and so many hard hearts and deaf ears. I am exhausted because seemingly overnight I’ve become one of the most unpopular, hated people in the country right now for what I believe. I am exhausted because, frankly, I’m too sensitive to be as opinionated as I am, and it physically ruins my health to get involved with what we in America like to call “civil discussions.” And I’ve been in a lot of them this week.
I am exhausted and I am fed up.
You may have heard about the Duck Dynasty fiasco, and you may have heard about same-sex marriages being legalized in Utah yesterday evening, two topics that I am extremely opinionated about. This blog post is about neither, and frankly, I’m extremely leery of expressing my opinion about both because I don’t want to be cyber bullied over the Internet by people who claim to know everything about the world and my motives.
This post is about those people.
Before I go further, I’m going to apologize. We are all hypocritical in some way, and I need to apologize to anyone whose feelings I have marginalized or hurt by expressing my opinion. I don’t ever intend on hurting anyone’s feelings. If I disagree with someone’s opinion, I don’t go out of my way to attack them as a person for thinking it. That’s extremely inappropriate. I might be disgruntled and think mean things sometimes, but that’s none of anyone’s business except my own. Another disclaimer: I am not God. I do not know everything nor do I claim to know everything. I’m really quite stupid, actually. Most of the things I like discussing are simply because I think about them, not because I’m an expert.
That being said, here’s something we all would do really well to keep in mind: we are nobodies. Did you hear that? Nobodies.
Don’t get me wrong. We are all excessively important. Our existence on this earth is no coincidence, nor is it any minor event. But when we think about the greatness of the world, the greatness of the universe, and, whether you believe in Him or not (I do), the greatness of God, we are really nobody. We know our world. We’re really good at pretending to know everything about our world and things outside of our world, but we as individuals are not capable of knowing all on our own. It’s impossible.
So why, then, do our every conversations drip with condescension and cruelty? If we know so little, why do we create an artificial mask to prove that we know so much?
I’m not going to skirt the issue here. I am incredibly sensitive. I don’t take offense easily, but I get my feelings hurt easily. Nobody’s here to see me cry about my thin skin, though. What you’re here for is this:
We treat each other like idiots and it needs to stop immediately.
I am sick and tired of expressing my thoughts and being verbally assaulted as though I’m someone greater than I am, dictating truth for all, or as if everything I say is completely invalid. I am sick and tired of discussing important, controversial topics to form an opinion about them only to have my voice lost in a tirade of snide and caustic remarks, such as, “Oh, don’t you think you’re so smart. Okay. What do you think about this then?” I have had my fill of know-it-alls whose sole purpose in life seems to be nothing more than taking personal offense to someone else’s opinion and holding it against them until they bleed and cry and admit that they’re wrong. In fighting these people, I become them, and that makes me even more angry.
At this point, I must add that though, yes, I consider myself more sensitive than offended, right now, I am incredibly bitter. Right now, I’m incredibly prideful. I’ve had my pride crushed multiple times this week, and though, yes, I probably deserve it, I also know that it’s been completely unnecessary on many occasions.
Really, what I think is irrelevant, but I am absolutely not alone in feeling completely marginalized by friends and strangers who think they know everything.
Reality check: they don’t.
I know many of you who do this to people. You think it’s fun to only interact with other human beings to tell them why they are idiotic and wrong. You take excessive pleasure from glorifying your opinion on a pedestal and marginalizing everybody else’s. You can barely stand the fact that people disagree with you, and because you do, you resort to using language and rhetoric as a weapon. You condemn your friends and associates because they may not know as much as you do or because you can’t understand them. You claim to understand humanity and the way things are but fail on a most basic level to understand the people you interact with. You lash out like a reptile, and in your pride-blinded attempt to prove yourself right, make erroneous assumptions and judgments about the way other people think and feel. Many of you, who preach tolerance and acceptance, as everyone pretends to, are the quickest to judge people by opinions that are hard to voice and which they probably don’t voice well because they haven’t had as much practice as you. It’s easy for you to spot ignorance online and it’s easy for you to feed your negativity into words that are cruel and cold, but it’s just as easy for everyone else to spot arrogance and disdain rolling in waves from every hole your opinion finds to curl up in. People want to stand up for what they believe, but they don’t want to deal with your biting attacks to do it, so they don’t. Because you are rude and angry and callous, and it’s obvious, people despise talking to you. I know many of you and I know your names and I know that if this post had eyes, it would be looking straight into your soul. It’s meant to. If you act this way around people, you are meant to take this post personally.
It must be incredibly lonely to live in a world like yours. I don’t envy you. No matter how much bitterness I convey in this post, I deeply pity you and your discontentment with differences.
I know what it’s like. I know it’s hard to have strong opinions and to think you’ve got facts to back them up and to still have people think you’re wrong. I know it’s hard to imagine that some people don’t operate on cold, robotic logic like you do to justify their beliefs. I know it’s man’s greatest struggle to prove that what he has to say is valid, and you hate feeling invalidated.
But, again, people are going to disagree with you, no matter what you say. Being a jerk about it is completely uncalled for. Calling someone bigoted, ignorant, and naive exacerbates true ignorance instead of educating it.
Caveat: if you’re labeling other people with the word “bigot” because they don’t share your ideas of right and wrong, by definition, you’re being one.
Civil discourse seems to have met its end in this country. Instead of forums or group meetings where people respectfully voice their opinions, we have a cesspool of defensive pricks who demean and bite rather than being kind. And because these defensive pricks demean and bite, they create more defensiveness and more anger and more misunderstanding. We, you and I, don’t take the time to ask questions out of curiosity anymore. Questions like: “That’s interesting. Why do you feel that way?” Instead, we ask loaded questions with every intention of baiting the people we talk to into slipping up and looking stupid. I know we do because I’ve been guilty of it, and I try hard not to be.
I’m guilty of talking like I’m right and sharing opinions like they’re the way things are. What I absolutely refuse to be guilty of is being that one pain in the you-know-what who goes out of her way to make another human being with completely different social, cultural, and spiritual influences feel stupid and demeaned for expressing a thought.
If we really cared about the issues and really cared about coming to a healthy solution together, we would educate with kindness and patience and open ears. We, though, are just as broken as the government we criticize. We don’t care about issues, we care about being right. We don’t care about understanding other people, we care about making them feel like they are stupid. “Civil discourse” is more often than not biting discord.
Unwavering belief in a good thing is wonderful. Prideful and scathing and personalized, bullying assaults to prove a botched up point that, inevitably, has its own flaws is not. If you can’t be kind, ask questions that aren’t demeaning, and avoid attacking a person rather than understanding them, you have no business calling yourself right.
So keep talking like you know everything about gay marriage, and keep talking like you know everything about everything. The greatest philosophers of the world could not have fully comprehended or known the truths of the future, as will be the case with us and our small existence and our limited attempts to sound better and right.
Moral of the story: I need to spend less time on the freaking Internet.