Expert Advice: If You’re Being a Jerk, Calm Down
Howdy all! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a wonderful year’s beginning! So while we’re in the middle of writing our mini-series, I don’t want you guys to get bored! So the solution?: Our first “Expert Advice” article! Here’s the thing, this article isn’t so much a traditional “Ask Amy” or an “If I Were You” (my preference) type article. More just an excuse to allow me to rant about something I’ve noticed that’s prevalent in society (I haven’t done one of these in a while!).
And I’m going to warn my audience and make a Dan Carlin-esque disclosure: I’m 100% going to offend literally everyone with some part of what I’m about to say. If demand is high enough, I’ll delve deeper into my individual topic opinions, but this article, as opposed to my usual style, is more stream of consciousness and a culmination of my overall personality. It isn’t going to focus on one topic and in fact, is going to jump around quite a bit. But, I think it’s INCREDIBLY important that when you see a fault in society, you point it out, in a kind and gentle way. Because at the end of the day, terrible things are going to happen. We can’t put all instances on the same plane of good and bad. But what matters is the person’s intention. Sometimes in life, I try my absolute hardest to help someone, and in the end, I end up messing everything up so badly that I wish I hadn’t done anything at all. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t trying to mess everything up; I was trying to help. And that’s what matters. And I want to make clear that that is what I’m trying to accomplish with this post. My goal is ultimately to make a more comfortable social atmosphere where ideas and perspectives can be exchanged, rather than starting a fighting match and having a preschool reminiscent argument of “No. MY opinion is better. You suck.” And what’s the point of having a blog if I don’t make use of it? So. You’ve been fairly warned. Enjoy the rest!
It’s become obvious to me that our society is becoming more and more liberal as time has been going on. Disregarding the current political atmosphere (I’m not even going to bother talking about what a cancer Trump is), we see that even the older folks who have been traditionally conservative are being swayed, or just passing away, to make room for the more liberally minded youth. However, this new liberalism is creating an equally disturbing atmosphere of “extreme liberalism” where everyone has to been politically correct all the time, jokes are not acceptable, and anyone who disagrees with your sentiment is a bigoted-fool who deserves ridicule. I’m going to be very clear on my stance: Nothing good has ever come from being on any extreme. I don’t care if you’re Hitler or Gandhi (either Indra or Mohandas), you’re equally bad in my book. The same applies to present day issues, whether it be abortion, video games, sexuality, sex, and yes, even rape. The only category I would argue is excluded from this is genocide or mass-murder. If you’re ok killing multiple people, whether it be ten or a thousand, you deserve to burn in hell. That’s a personality trait that is going to bleed into everything you do.
So, let’s roll back for a second. Did I just say rape? Am I saying rape is ok? Am I some sort of weird rape-apologist or even worse, a rapist? The answer: Hell no. No where close. Here’s what I am saying: Let’s say you have a pediatric neurosurgeon. This guy (or gal) has saved thousands of children’s lives. He’s part of Doctors Without Borders. He was in Zimbabwe saving children (on that note, Mugabe can rot in hell too). Started a non-profit that does pro-bono surgery for children in impoverished nations. Great guy, right? Maybe even deserves a Nobel prize? Here’s the thing: this guy is a serial rapist. Does that mean all the good he’s done in this world is discounted? No. He’s saved thousands of lives and no matter what you say, those children and their families are thankful. But does that mean he’s excused for his actions? Absolutely not. He gets to go to jail. He’s committed an atrocious, inexcusable crime and can rot in jail. Those aren’t contradicting statements. What I’m saying is the person is separate from their work. You can do AMAZING work, and still be the scum of the Earth. Whether you want to admit it or not, Hitler’s programs moved medical science forward by at LEAST a hundred years. Was it ethical or even right? No. But you can’t ignore facts because “You don’t like someone”. Statistically, almost everyone in the world has done something wrong, or something you might disagree with. But if you go with the theory that “If all my heroes are criminals, then I have no heroes”, well then you’re excluding yourself from some amazing life lessons. We don’t need to like every part of a person at all times. We just need to value certain aspects of them. You can love how great of a doctor the neurosurgeon was, love Gandhi’s dedication to his cause, and love Hitler’s charisma, and still hate all of them as people. But if you go against every aspect of everyone you dislike, you will never vicariously learn life lessons, and you won’t grow as a person.
So, at this point, some people might call me a terrible person or a rape apologist. Here’s what I have to say to them: Screw you. You have no idea what my life has been, what the hell I’ve been through, and my experience with domestic violence or sexual assault. And here’s the thing: I don’t owe you an explanation. My knowledge and opinion can not only be verified by me telling you my life story. I have been through my own personal hell, just like everyone else. And let’s say I didn’t have any personal experience – it doesn’t matter. My opinion is my own and I am entitled to it, just the same as everyone else. Can you imagine the trauma an individual has to face every time they have to recount their story, just to TRY and allow you to understand their opinion? Just think about it this way. You get into an argument with someone about the death penalty. You are adamantly for the death penalty and your opponent is adamantly against it. You both bring up several valid points but at the end of the day, you say “You don’t understand. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’ve never had to deal with someone who’s life got taken away and you would change your mind if someone you knew was murdered.” Immediately, the other person breaks down crying and runs away. You have no idea why. It turns out, this person’s father was murdered by his best friend back in the 90s, and they saw it happen in front of them. That’s traumatic. And you brought it up completely inconsiderate of their backstory; not intentionally, but how could you have known. And that’s a perfect example of why we have to be sensitive when judging someone else. You might also be having a tough time with the conversation because of your own personal reasons. But if you only attack the other person, you’ll never figure out that you guys have a common experience or ally that you can bond you together and help you fight against the aspect you both wish to fight against. There’s no movement forward without cooperation. Only stagnation. And you might think that’s an incredibly rare situation and when does that happen. Well, right off the bat, I’ve been put into a similar situation multiple times, so don’t discount something just because you think it doesn’t happen. It happens a lot more than you think.
So let’s back up again. How do we fix this? You can’t just pre-monese someone’s life story. The answer: Be kind. Be understanding. Know that just because someone doesn’t agree with you, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own reasons and own perspective. And even if they don’t, so what? If someone disagrees with you, you don’t get to say “you HAVE to do this, or else” or “because you feel this way, I’m going to do this to you”. By all means, if it bothers you so much, stop talking to them, unfriend them, don’t talk to them – as close-minded as that is, you’re welcome to your own opinions and actions. People will judge you on your actions. But, there is no way you get to tell other people to not talk to them or unfriend them, without repercussions. That’s abusive and frankly manipulative. Honestly, you’re a shitty person. But guess what? Just cause you’re a shitty person, it doesn’t discount all the good stuff you’ve done. Isn’t it funny how things come full circle?
And on that note, we as a society need to learn how to take a joke. Not everything in life is terrible and needs a fight. Note the person’s intent. And then maybe, we can all have a good laugh together. Honestly, that sounds really nice. Not everything has to be so PC. I think Chris Hardwick and Wil Wheaton described this sentiment best on Hardwick’s podcast “The Nerdist”. In reference to the Bill Cosby scandal, “It’s not like we’re saying ‘Let’s make Cosby jokes a lot!’ It’s in the news a lot and it’s at the forefront of comedians minds…But it comes from ‘You’re trying to make rape funny’. No. It’s the guy. He needs to be taken down. And a comedian can’t go punch in the face, so the only thing a comedian can do is punch him with jokes…we have to keep him down and shamed where he belongs” . And it’s not just comedians who handle things that way. There’s a lot of people out there who have dealt with traumatic issues and express their anxiety or anger through joking. Just the same way that some people handle it through outburst or sporadic crying or even depression in some cases. But everyone handles their issues differently and by trying to stifle that because it doesn’t appeal to you, is factually damaging to another person’s mental state. Because the comedian’s purpose is by no means to attack or hurt anyone’s feelings, except for the person they’re making the joke about (i.e. Cosby, Hitler, etc.). And if the intention is pure, attacking that person is going back to essentially mentally and emotionally abusing this individual for dealing with their demons in their own way.
This ability to separate people from their work is part of what we call “being an adult”. We’re not in high school anymore, people (and if you are, you’re getting an early life lesson). The world isn’t going to get any better by everyone being assholes to each other. Listen to people. Work together. If you’re a Trump supporter, you’re not going to accomplish anything by throwing poor Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, and other minorities out of the rally. If you’re a feminist, shoving your propaganda in someone’s face isn’t going to help your cause. In both cases, you just make people resent you, and not look out for your best interest. I’ll adamantly agree that we need to fight against the normalization of negative behavior like rape/murder/sexism/etc., but a socially violent backlash against every joke, comment or perspective only succeeds in making that entire discussion more hostile for both sides, and no one leaves any happier or the wiser. By belittling someone’s opinion, you have put yourself in a situation where people are actively making a decision to not help you and maybe even stay away from you. And bless you if you have friends, that even though they feel threatened by you, they still stand up to help you out. But frankly, most people aren’t that nice. Which means sooner or later, history will repeat itself and those who take an extreme stance on anything will be marred by history, torn down, and the entire cause, no matter how just, will be tarnished by how you were perceived, and nothing to do with how amazing of a cause you might have.
Hopefully, this article has given you a different perspective to think about. Hopefully, if you’ve attacked people in the past on their opinion, you’ll man up and take a moment to apologize. I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means. I have some apologizing to do too. But, if we don’t all take a step forward together, we stay stagnant or worse, move back. And if this article did the complete opposite, and you hate me for it, that’s fine too. Feel free to unfriend me, hate me, talk shit about me to whoever you want. That’s 100% your right as an individual. But if that spills over into attacking others based on their opinion, just know that you are a toxic person. You are not contributing to society or your cause in any way. Simply making others see your cause with an associated negative light. But again, that’s your right as an individual. And even if you don’t care about the individual because “The cause is more important than any one person,” well that’s fine too. But it benefits you to approach the situation the same way because if you don’t, that associated negative light will eventually spread through not just people who know you, but through the entire cause as a whole, and at the very least, you care about the cause. The best examples of this are the current perception of “3rd-wave feminists” or PETA members, or even churches and religious institutions like the Westboro Baptist Church, that are just overall all seen as “full of crazy people.” You can’t tell me that reputation has helped any one of those organizations.
In essence, as long as you are kind and open-minded to the other individual, we can make progress in a many number of issues. But we will only remain stagnant as a society if we refuse to work together. So to sum it all up: if you’re being a jerk, calm down.
- “http://nerdist.com/nerdist-podcast-wil-wheaton-returns-again/” ~48 minute mark.