There are certain basic, inherently decent truths in this world. Most reasonable people understand them to some extent. We don’t need to be persuaded of their merits.
Being a selfish asshole is a bad thing.
Lying, cheating, and stealing is a bad thing.
Compliments and kind words help us and others like us.
Not everything you see on the internet is true.
These are just a few. I hope they’re not controversial. I like to think I have enough life experiences to make these statements with some credibility. Ideally, we don’t need to remind each other of these simple truths. They should be a given for anyone with a functioning brain.
Unfortunately, we live in an exceedingly imperfect world and years like 2020 only intensify those imperfections.
So, in that frustrating spirit, I’d like to make a quick public service announcement that I hope will function as a simple reminder. Please note I’m not referring to one particular person or a single group. I’m addressing as many people as possible. If you can, please forward this along because this needs to be said, reinforced, and belabored.
Someone disagreeing with you is not a violent act against you, nor should it be construed as one.
I know. That sounds like common sense. It is, for the most part. Most of us learn in grade school that someone disagreeing with you is not a big deal. You don’t have to like it. You may feel angry about it, but it’s hardly damaging. We live in a diverse society with diverse people. You’re going to encounter people who don’t think or believe like you do.
However, lately it feels like the mere act of disagreeing with someone is somehow construed as this aggressive, violent political statement. Just telling someone you don’t agree with their politics or voted differently in the last election is no longer a simple point of disagreement. It’s an outright affront.
I see it in social media, comments sections, and in person debates. It gets incredibly ugly and it escalates way too fast. It often goes like this.
Person A: I voted for this candidate/hold this position/support this effort.
Person B: Really? I voted for the other candidate/position/effort.
Person A: You horrible piece of fucking shit! You’re ruining this country and this world! I hate your fucking guts and everything you stand for! You should fucking die a horrible death!
I wish I could say that was hyperbole. I really wish I could. Sadly, that’s a painfully accurate paraphrasing of the rhetoric I see whenever people start arguing. Whether it’s about politics, pop culture, video games, or which fictional characters they like, it gets so ugly, so fast that it’s disturbing.
It’s not treated as a difference of opinion. Some treat simple, differing opinions as a series of kidney punches delivered by Ivan Drago. It’s a gross, irrational, unbalanced response to the mere act of holding an opinion. If you don’t believe me, just try making these comments on any social platform.
I enjoyed Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
I support professional athletes protesting police injustice during the national anthem.
Brie Larson is a great actress.
There should be more diversity in certain franchises.
These are innocuous opinions. They don’t physically harm anyone. They reveal only a tiny sliver of who someone actually is. However, the mere utterance of these opinions is often a trigger for the most vile, hateful, rage-fueled reactions you can imagine.
That’s not just wrong.
That’s not just misguided, either.
It’s fucking stupid.
There’s no other way to describe it. These reactions are not the least bit warranted. Someone disagreeing with you is not an act of violence. It’s just not. Treating it as such is absurd, not to mention regressive.
Nobody, I don’t care who you are, is ever going to live in a world where everyone agrees with them. Humans just aren’t wired like that. Getting so upset about it is not a productive use of our time, energy, and passions.
I realize this will likely fall in deaf ears for some, but I hope others will take a step back and reassess how they react to someone voicing an opposing opinion. This world is messy enough. Let’s not make it worse by fighting each other for petty, unwarranted reasons.