Intolerance - is it me, or is the world getting meaner?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I rarely find anything worth blogging about - I refuse to subject other SP members to the minutiae of my life because it's not all that exciting. But something's been bothering me for a while, and I feel I need to get in written down so I can look at it objectively.
I occasionally read news articles on the web and the accompanying comments. I'm amazed at the downright nastiness of some of those posts. I wonder if the anonymity of the internet, and the ability to post comments about other people's opinions gives the posters the freedom to say things they would never say face-to-face to another person.
Political articles seem to generate the most nastiness, however other topics can get just as heated. It's as if each poster believes that their opinion is the only one that counts, and that anyone who doesn't agree with them is ignorant, uninformed, or just plain stupid. Where's the civility?
Politics and religion are very personal, and I refuse to discuss either with my friends. I value the friendships too much to risk losing them based on a difference of opinion, especially when the only thing we can do about the political situation is vote.
I belong to a group of about a dozen women, all about the same age, similarly educated, but from different parts of the country who now live in the same town. We get together about twice a month, and invariably, one or two of the group will start talking politics. These two women are died-in-the wool followers of their political party - which party they belong to is irrelevant. But they manage to get their political views across at every meeting. The rest of us keep our opinions to ourselves, or try to change the subject whenever one of them starts up. They have even started emailing other members of the group to try to enlist us to their points of view. They never bother to ask if anyone has a different opinion - as far as they're concerned, their views are the only ones that are correct or make sense. They are completely intolerant of anyone who has a different point of view.
In the 40+ years I've voted, I have never voted the whole party ticket. I am an independent thinker, research the issues, use FactCheck.org to get the facts on the political ads and soundbites from the candidates, before making my decision, and I vote for the candidate who I feel will do the best job. I don't care what party that candidate belongs to.
I've often wondered about these two acquaintances of mine - I can't really call them friends. I wonder if they are pushing their agendas no so much because they really believe in their causes, but because they're looking for reassurance that they are right and everybody else is wrong. It's gotten so bad that several members of the group are considering leaving, and ironically, the two trouble-makers are the newest members of the group.
I did respond to one email, basically saying that I won't discuss politics at our social gatherings. I also told her that nobody likes to be told how to think or how to vote - we are all intelligent women and can make our own decicions. If they don't agree with her opinions, so be it.
Sadly, this idea of one person's opinions being more valid or more intelligent than someone else's has infiltrated our whole society. It doesn't matter if the topic is politics, religion, where to shop, or the best diet plan. What is important to me, or what works for me won't necesarily be the best fit for you or my best friend or my neighbor. So, why can't we all play nicely? Life isn't a competition, we don't get extra points if we insult people, or try to invalidate the other person's contribition to the discussion because they don't agree with us.
Okay - I've stepped down off my soapbox, and probably won't blog again for a while.