Social Justice Bullies

Social pandering has gone over and beyond ridiculous.  We must be careful what we say and to whom, and even the most benign thing shared can cause outrage.  Why is that?  Words are hurtful, there is no doubt about that, but why must we walk on the proverbial eggshells anymore?

Bullies exist, they always have and always will.  It is a toxic part of humanity and a reality most people face sometime in their lives.  However, that doesn’t seem to be why people are so hurt by words lately.  It appears that large masses of people have thin skin and have an axe to grind against anyone who shares a different viewpoint or vocabulary.

Below is a screenshot of a reaction someone had to a tweet.  Keep in mind my wife runs my Twitter account and was the one that posted this, not me, which is massively ironic.  The not-too-subtle accusation of sexism.  The point isn’t to vent because I’m offended.  It is to point out just how thin-skinned, so many people of our culture are.  Why is something so innocent as my wife and I celebrating our teamwork in need of criticism?

Our culture is growing ever more sensitive to the point where it finds problems where there are none.  No matter how benign a statement, social media post, or thought is, someone is bound to get offended, but not just offended, that person may feel the need to “educate” you and put you in your place.  Offended people now are the social bullies.  Attempting to silence any voice that is different from their own in the name of “good.”  How do we fight this?  Call it out for what it is, bullying.  Us writers need to keep writing our thoughts and what’s on our mind.  Not cater or pander to anyone, no matter how loud and obnoxious their voice may be.  The irony is that it is typically those who speak of tolerance and acceptance that are guilty of the very things they claim to hate.  Perhaps this is a window into everyone’s psyche, we are often guilty of the things we hate the most.  Therefore, before getting sanctimonious over silly things on social media, let us examine ourselves and see if we live up to our own standards.  We all need this.  Certainly, there is a time and place to speak up, and that is where wisdom and discernment comes in, both qualities though seem to be sorely lacking in our society.

Do not get offended, get thoughtful.

I am a millennial.  We are known for two things, 90s nostalgia and getting offended, especially the later.  While Millennials on college campuses are the poster men and women for offense.  It seems to me that being predisposed to offense goes beyond my generation.  I think that social media is the root of a lot of offense.  How about instead of getting offended we get thoughtful.

We are steeped in technology and information.  How companies get their information to you through all the other sources is to pander to what you want to hear and believe.  As a result, we lose our ability to empathize with someone else.  That, requires effort.  We must seek out what the “other side” believes.  It’s okay to disagree, but what happened with civil discourse and free exchange of ideas without someone feeling it is a personal attack?

In the era of knee-jerk reactions and visceral reactions on the internet, I challenge whoever is reading this and myself to respond thoughtfully.  It goes against every instinct within us.  When we are hurt we want to get even, make them suffer and feel pain.  There is enough of that on the internet.  Why don’t we instead learn why we believe what we believe and support it with facts and research?  When replying to posts we disagree with, why don’t we keep calm and explain our position rationally.  This is something we should all think about.

Does Anyone Care?

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In case you live in a hole in the ground, you know there was an election.  It was not just an election year, it was a very emotionally charged election year.  I know, every time there is an election there are emotions, but this time things seem much more volatile.  Anyone on social media has seen passionate posts, or maybe you are the one writing them.  We have seen moderates berate both sides, we have seen Trump supporters demonize Hillary, and Hillary supporters insist Trump is the next Hitler.  This post isn’t about my political views, but instead I would like to pose a question.  Does anyone really care about yours or my political views?  Especially when we expound them on social media or in our works as writers?  

Political views stem out of worldviews, and worldviews are how we see everything. The person on the other side of the spectrum sees things very differently (obviously) and most likely will get angry, annoyed, or ignore the post entirely.  Therefore, is there really any point to posting it to begin with?  Yes and no, somethings are worth taking a stand, and there is nothing wrong with sharing one’s thoughts, but things have gotten overboard. There is point in which social media becomes not a place for sharing views but beating down and bullying all who dare think differently.  All sides do this, and now it is saturating our entertainment too.  As a storyteller, I must pull back and analyze just how much sprinkling of my worldview do I need to include in a tale? 

I doubt anyone changed their beliefs based on a Facebook or Twitter post.  This is coming from someone who has done this before as well.  I feel passionate about something, and five years ago I was much more idealistic and even sought out “discussions” with those who believe differently.  You know what that accomplished?  Nothing.  My mind wasn’t changed; the other person’s mind didn’t change.  Ultimately all it did was cause tension, anger, and for both sides to end up grossly misrepresenting our sides due to elevated emotions.  That is the natural conclusion for such things.  Now, I’m not saying politics or religion should never be discussed.  They should be, but I’m specifically addressing the plastering these views all over social media obsessively, or going out of your way to argue with strangers on the internet.

The only ones that care about these posts are the ones who already agree with you.  If you then are speaking to only those who agree with you anyway, why do it?  If you are doing it to convince others that their beliefs are wrong and evil then it may seem noble, but again that isn’t how people come to different conclusions.  The only way to influence another person’s perspective is to empathize with them and their views, and to care about them as people.

It is human nature to get passionate about something and share it with the world, and somethings are worth fighting for and taking a stand.  That is where discernment comes in, something which has been sorely lacking these past couple years.

As a writer, I find this fascinating.  I see people’s true beliefs and worldviews coming through since the election.  It is excellent fuel for characters.  So many people take to the internet to state their views over and over and the only ones who listen are those who already agree.   Personally, I don’t put much faith in any one politician, especially right now.  It is interesting seeing those who are so emotionally invested in ideology that they alienate and even create divides within their own families.  Reality is the greatest inspiration for fiction.  Immense loyalty to ideologies, for good or bad, makes for compelling characterization.  Although, the all-too-common “think like me or you are evil,” thinking that is emerging isn’t helpful for real world relationships.  Even if the person really is right.  Throughout this I can say one thing, at least it is dripping with inspiration.