And I wish people would remember that. I have been avoiding online for awhile, and I finally realized why.
In the culture I was raised in, family and extended family are very important, which leads to two important facts.
The first is you can be yourself with them–which leads to “interesting” discussions on religion, politics, sports, why on earth did you cut your hair (yes they will comment), etc., etc. But we are still family and nobody gets disowned at the end of the day.
The second is that the totally open commentary and disagreements are internal. Your parent, sibling, or cousin will tell you if you are acting stupidly, if you voted like an idiot, or your haircut is horrible. But God help anyone outside of the family who does. We close ranks then and defend our own. We tend to be more angry if an insult is thrown at a family member than at ourselves.
And I finally realized that is why I have been avoiding the Internet–because I become a defensive, uptight knot of repressed anxiety and anger. Because amongst my close friends and family, I have Trump voters, Clinton voters, and third-party voters. We had discussions before and after the election, and these intelligent people had specific reasons for choosing the candidate they did. None of them was happy with their vote, because no one felt like they had a good choice. But I respect all of them, and all though I question some of the choices, they are adult Americans and they voted! Yay for them!
But when I go online and see horrible, vulgar insults being thrown at Trump voters or Clinton voters or people who “opted out” by voting third party, my defense goes up. Insults are being flung at my friend, or my cousin, or my mom, etc., etc. And I go into defensive, protect my family mode. RAWR!!! And some of this has leaked into the crafting and arts blogs I follow, so I feel like I can’t get away. (Oddly, my online game is relatively free of it. Apparently politics don’t matter as long as you can take the boss down.) My family also believes in two wrongs don’t make a right, so just because someone uses ugly, hateful language you cannot and should not return in kind.
But my Christian faith and my intellect tell me I need to try to understand the other person’s view, and the obvious pain some of them are feeling, and I often have difficulties expressing myself clearly online, so I struggle with making a good response. And I can’t with some, because I’ve watched them digitally shred someone who posts a respectful, honest question about their point of view, so I know it will resolve nothing. And I do not want to insult anyone, because it never changes thing. But then there’s another opinion piece on the stupidity level of red state voters (my family is predominately red state although some voted Clinton) and I want to RAWRR again! And the end result was my feeling just like I did when I was bullied as a child.
So I finally blocked the worst offenders on my FB feed, hoping maybe in a few months they will have calmed down.
And sadly, due to my upbringing, I enjoy a lively political discussion. I am very curious as to why people vote the way they did, especially when I find out it was not what I would expect from them. But the toxic, vicious, winner-take-all tone of online forums has stifled all political discussion everywhere. Neighbors won’t talk, coworkers won’t talk, nothing. And I have always found the better discussions in real life, because people are less likely to start screaming insults when you are sharing a pot of tea with them.
So protest peacefully if you feel the need, write your representatives to voice any objections or opinions you have, and even post to your social media or blog. But remember, there are real people on the other end of the Internet line, who have their own feelings and opinions. So please stop the insults and derogatory comments.
In fact, why not find someone in real life whose politics you disagree with, and just talk to them? Don’t try to sway them to your side, just ask respectful questions and try to find out why. They might surprise you.
Sorry for the ramble, sorry for the politics. Comment as you will, but please keep it respectful and polite. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I will be taking a break from online, except for actual information gathering and video gaming. Hope to be back to the regular blog at some point.