Avoiding the Internet…

Some days, I avoid the internet. Major holidays, election days, presidential debate nights, and pretty much any major sporting event. Hell, after the first few responses to a thoughtful Internet meme, I have to stop paying attention. The boo birds come out with a vengeance. People for whom disagreement isn’t sufficient. They need to take their disagreement to the logical extreme. They begin ridiculing those they don’t agree with. People start sniping each other over their beliefs. Maybe I getting old..but I just can’t stomach it anymore.

You have all seen it. Stories, pictures, or comments that exist solely to belittle others. Every few weeks, there is fertile new ground for this behavior. Christmas is over-commercialized, disingenuous, overly religious and annoying. People who love it must be crazy. Easter is another hallmark holiday or a celebration of a delusional group of religious bigots. You may have heard that it was originally a pagan ritual taken over by the Church to help placate conquered/converted people. The 4th of July is jingoistic and patriotic nonsense. It should be renamed as a celebration of American imperialism. Columbus Day is a celebration of Europeans bringing death and disease to the native peoples of the Americas. Thanksgiving is a celebration of the American conquest of the native Americans and should be celebrated by giving back what was stolen by our ancestors. Valentine’s day is yet another Hallmark holiday. It doesn’t have anything to do with love and celebrating it is stupid. We should love our partners daily. Hell, Black History Month is never more than a moment or two old before I hear someone whine about White History Month.

Why does it bother some of you that other people are celebrating or are happy? What does my enjoyment of Easter have to do with you? What happened to people treating each other with a little respect? I’m growing tired of the constant need to belittle others for what they do or do not believe. I’m growing tired of people who lack a shred of empathy or compassion. It must be exhausting always being right or always standing in judgment. I’m tired of hearing that atheists are morally corrupt heathens or that my religious friends are mindless drones.

The funny part is that this post could have easily just been a repost of my blog about bullying from a while ago. It is essentially the same topic. Too many people use the bully pulpit of the Internet to ridicule others. Those words matter. They could matter to people you didn’t expect. It could be a friend you’ve talked to and “loved” for months who feels offended after you write a post telling the world why religious people are small minded bigots. It could be the person with whom you bonded who is hurt after you spend a few too many words ridiculing anyone that enjoys Valentine’s Day. You never quite know who might be made to feel small because of your words.

Everyone is free to do what makes them happy I choose to write from a place that makes me happy. I choose to write from a place where people are empowered and feel stronger for having read my thoughts. . I choose to think about the people who are made to feel small. I choose to not belittle. I choose to not pick on people. If someone chooses to do the same because of this, I’m happy.

Bullying

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bullying lately. Not sure why.. maybe I’m feeling like a bully. I don’t know. The major problem I see in all of the discussion is that apparently bullying stops when you graduate high school. Look at Federal anti-bullying campaign, it discusses bullying quite well and has links to help different groups identify and cope with bullying. The problem? It’s all about bullying with respect to kids. I just don’t get it. Adults can be bullied too.

If you look a little deeper, you can find adult bullying discussions. The “focus” of bullying changes, but the feelings and effects of that bullying are the same as they were when we were kids. Some bullying is overt. People actively picking on others or degrading them. People intentionally posting passive aggressive nonsense that is clearly directed at certain people. (thank you social networks) Even something as simple as posting online about some “truism” you believe that passively degrades other people. Things like “Why on earth would anyone think blah blah blah is something anyone wants to [hear|see|think]” constitute some of this passive aggressive crap.

Hell, people need to be mindful that bullying can be directed at anyone. Your spouse or significant other, your friends, your kids, your pets. It’s a pretty insidious event in our world. Bullying comes far too easily to most people and calling someone out on their bully results in? More bullying.

What is the point of all of this? I’m hopeful people are more mindful of how their words and thoughts affect other people. I’m hopeful that people learn to self-identify bullying habits or are willing to hear criticism from others that their words or actions are classic indicators of bullying.

A year or so ago, I decided I was going to be less snarky and sarcastic. That hasn’t worked out so well. What I have done, or tried to do, is to try to be less biting and mean in my sarcasm. There is a very broadly identifiable line in any friendship or relationship that can be seen and denotes when your jokes are mean-spirited or nasty. I’ve tried to learn to see that line more often than not. If you think I’ve crossed that line, let me know. I’m grown up enough to hear it.

Edit:
After I wrote this, I found a really nice website from PBS about Adult Bullying. Good stuff to read through: Adult Bullying