Yep. You can tell it’s an election year. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and less tolerant, or if it’s because the stakes are higher. Maybe it’s just that peoples’ ability to debate issues calmly is becoming a lost art. All I know is that the political diatribe seems to be worse than usual this time around. It gets to the point that I sometimes have to unplug, just to get away from the constant vitriol people spew online.
I suppose it’s the inevitable result of our “faceless society”. People seem to think that since they’re online, they are more free to offend without repercussion. And that really bothers me. Not that people are passionate about their beliefs. Passion is a good thing. People should be passionate about the things that matter to them. What bothers me is the lack of basic civility lately – a lack of respect for the rights of others to have differing opinions, and a lack of effort to even try to see why someone might hold that different belief.
Now, I’ve promised those of you who pay attention to my ramblings that I will refrain from ever trying to turn my little blog here into a platform for my political beliefs, and I intend to keep that promise. Some have told me that this is a mistake – that political activism is the right, and almost the duty, of anyone who has a public platform. I will respectfully disagree.
So don’t think I am stepping across the line of my promise here by simply addressing the issue. I’m not. I’m not discussing my political beliefs here. I’m talking about respecting one another. You see, I don’t refrain from political or religious discussion out of some fear of debate, or from worry that I will alienate a part of my potential readership.
No, I refrain out of respect for my fellow humanoids. I don’t jump down someone’s throat when they post some nonsensical urban legend or half-truth as if it were unassailable fact. You won’t find me railing at someone because they want to require everyone to own a handgun, while I think they should be banned, or conversely because they think assault weapons should be banned when I think there should be no infringement on gun ownership at all. You won’t find me screaming about what the latest idiot in DC had to say about the idiot across the aisle from him or her. And you DEFINITELY won’t find me calling you an idiot if you disagree with my opinion.
And I have to say, I lose a little more respect for people each time I see them doing that online.
I have friends on both sides of the aisle, and I respect everyone’s right to their opinion. I have faith that people will be able to research their views, and derive opinions based on their interpretation of various factors. And perhaps I’m a bit too naive, but I feel that everyone should strive for a similar acceptance of one another.
Am I promoting censorship? Of course not!
But not in the way most people view it. I suppose I’m promoting self censorship. I’m advocating the novel concept of consideration and respect for the thoughts and opinions of others, and for their right to hold their own opinions – even when they are in direct opposition to your own. Is that really censorship? I would just call it good manners.
I know many people who speak and/or write using language that most people would find offensive. I know others who speak and/or write using less “earthy” language, but who still manage to promote an atmosphere of disdain and near hatred for those who disagree. Edward Lorn is a good friend of mine. He makes no bones about his language, or his opinions. He’s one of those “earthy” guys I mentioned. Ed’s use of the English language will at times singe the eyebrows off the more genteel reader. But while Ed’s languge might offend some, I think to him, he is just using the tool of his trade to make people think. I don’t even think he really cares whether or not you agree with him, so long as you think and engage. And agree with him or not, I have never seen him make any attempt to humiliate or denigrate those who oppose him.
For that matter, he and I disagree on some things at a pretty basic level.
And I value those disagreements as much as I do any other aspect of our friendship. Because it is our differences that make us who we are. I don’t want a world full of Jeffs. I have to tell you, the world would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same. Yeah, I know – you’ve heard that pithy little saying before. That doesn’t make it any less true.
But at least if we were all the same, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time shaking my head at the useless arguments that keep popping up. (sigh)
Well, it’s late, and I’m tired. It’s time to wind this up and settle in for the night. So let me get as political as I’m willing to get. I will ask that you do one thing. The next time you want to post something online for the sole purpose of starting or joining in on another online pissing contest, ask yourself if it is really going to do anyone any good. If all you’re going to accomplish is to get the people who already agree with you to tell you that they agree, and to get those who disagree with you to tell you they disagree, what have you really accomplished? Hmmm? ?:-)
All right. ‘Nuff said. Stay safe all.