complaints, condescending twatbags, overly helpful people, pests, social media

“… and that’s OKAY…” Very glad you think so, lady.

I had kind of an annoying experience yesterday. It was early evening, and I was binge watching Audit the Audit videos on YouTube. They’re very addictive and educational, you know.

While I was watching the videos, I was sort of half-assed looking at Facebook. At some point recently, I started following a chef/author called Culinary Anarchy. He’s kind of entertaining and snarky. He posted something that made me pause…

Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, it’s not.

I get that the good chef posted the words “generally speaking”. But then he wrote, “I’ve run this page for over a decade now and this is the case more often than not…..”

I know… I should have just kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help but remember that cursed day in August 2008, when I first got on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t have many good pictures of myself. We lived in Germany at the time, and I didn’t own a cell phone. I didn’t need one, because those were the early days of the iPhone, and no one ever called me… Free, public WiFi wasn’t yet a thing (especially in Germany), and we didn’t want to get tied down with a cell phone contract. Turns out that was a good plan, since we didn’t quite make it to our second anniversary during that first stint. As it was, Bill had a really cheap phone that was very primitive. I finally got my first iPhone in 2009.

I was not a Mac user until around 2011, and my HP computer didn’t have an internal camera on it. If it did, I didn’t know about it. And even if it did, I really didn’t know how to take selfies. I also didn’t like it when other people took pictures of me, especially when they were unflattering and the photographer insisted on sharing them. One of my pet peeves is when I’m trying to eat dinner or something and some photographer wants to take a photo and sell it to me. I mostly find having my picture taken kind of mortifying.

So, for the first couple of years that I was a Facebook user, I didn’t really use pictures of myself on my profile. I think the first time I used a photo of myself was in the summer of 2009, when we went on a Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise (our first cruise, and the only one we’ve ever done on a big ship). On that cruise, the photographer did get a somewhat decent shot of Bill and me. We bought it, and I took a picture of it, because I didn’t have a scanner. That served as my profile pic for awhile. I think I used another selfie in 2011 sometime, when I bought my first Mac, and discovered the camera function.

I remember some friends being kind of excited by that photo. One friend wrote something along the lines of, “It’s you. It’s YOU! You’re lovely!” I was dressed up because Bill and I were going to an event in downtown Atlanta. Some people in the state of Georgia had organized a fundraiser for the country of Georgia. We thought it might be interesting, so we went. And I took that opportunity to take a new selfie.

Slowly, over the years, I got braver about taking selfies. For the longest time, I wouldn’t use my phone to take one, but now I’ve finally figured out how to flip the image so I don’t look deranged. So now, there are more photos of me available for people to look at, if they are so inclined to do that. But I still don’t go out of my way to have my photo taken, and I wouldn’t say I change pictures very often. Mostly, it’s because I hate putting on makeup.

Recently, I started videoing myself for my YouTube videos. I still can’t bear to watch myself on camera, but I’ve been told it’s better for engagement. It’s also a lot easier to make videos with a video recording, rather than using still photos. I can just take the whole thing and paste it in, rather, than adjusting for timing and putting in transitions. I much prefer not having to put photos in videos on my creaky iMac, which will be retired in the coming days, as I just ordered a new computer yesterday. Adding still photos tends to make my machine freeze.

You may have gotten the idea by now that I don’t think of myself as particularly appealing to look at. I feel self-conscious. I still don’t use the video function when I make recordings on SingSnap. I don’t like doing video calls with people. In fact, I don’t even like making or receiving phone calls, anymore (that wasn’t always the case). And I have also come to dislike most chat, too… even with Bill. In short, I’ve become kind of a reclusive curmudgeon.

Anyway, when I saw that post by Culinary Anarchy, I decided to comment. I wrote this:

I did it because I was ugly.

I was actually kind of being facetious. I know I’m not an “ugly” person, at least not in the physical sense. I don’t actually think there are a lot of truly “ugly” people in the world, literally or figuratively. But I didn’t feel the need to explain that to the peanut gallery.

It didn’t take long before someone left me a response. I actually liked what this guy wrote.

…that’s my current dilemma. Hit a certain point in my life where I don’t even wanna look in the mirror so I don’t post selfies much anymore and I don’t wanna post old pics of me.

Yes… this guy totally gets it. There comes a point in your life when you don’t want to be reminded of what time has done to your face and physique. It has nothing to do with being stalked or stalking other people. Some people also just don’t feel the need to put it all out there, regardless. Even in this age of social media saturation, some people still like their privacy.

So then I wrote, “I don’t photograph well and it took a long time before I learned how to do selfies.”

If I can control the camera, I can avoid the half lidded, half blinking look, half dozen chins, big zits, gin blossoms, wrinkles, or whatever else is distressing for me to look at. Maybe that’s vain of me, but life is tough enough without that burden, right?

There were a couple of kind and complimentary comments, which I appreciated, but wasn’t necessarily fishing for.

And then came the comment from that person… you know the kind– the person who assumes too much. Here’s what she wrote:

as my kid would say, you look normal.

Most of us look normal and not like models or social media influencers and that’s ok.

Ahem… Maybe it’s me, but I found this to be a pretty obnoxious and presumptuous comment. Where did this person get the idea that I hoped to look like a model or a social influencer? Especially since I now have a photo of myself on my profile. I obviously overcame my hesitation, right? But even if I hadn’t done that and was still using a picture of a grey heron as my profile pic, would this lady be assuming I want to look like a model? Or I was being stalked by someone? The point is, some of us don’t like how we look in photos, and we’re all too aware of not looking like models.

So I wrote this:

Yeah, I eventually got over it. Never expected to look like a model or a social influencer. I just didn’t want to cringe.

I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the only one who posted that I didn’t use a profile picture of myself because I felt “too ugly.” So I don’t know if Culinary Anarchy’s theory necessarily holds up as much as he assumes it does. Still, I was a little irritated by that woman’s comment about models and social influencers. I know… I have an ego issue. Prick me and I bleed. The older I get, the more people bug me.

I tell you what… I probably would have been less annoyed if the woman hadn’t ended her comment with “and that’s okay.” I think of strangers telling me “and that’s okay” as the catchphrase for the “overly helpful.” It’s as if she thought I was angsty and needed her consolation or reassurance. Actually, I think she needed a hearty “Fuck off and die” or something more colorful like that…

Back when I first posted my original selfies, I had a few “overly helpful” people on my friends list. I was a lot “nicer” in those days, so I was pretty tolerant of their irritating attempts to boost themselves by offering lame observations or attempts to be unsolicited “helpers”.

Overly helpful types of people tend to act like other people need their sage wisdom to get through life. They offer unwelcome advice, play “devil’s advocate”, or armchair psychoanalyze. In fairness, a lot of us do the armchair psychoanalysis thing, but it’s pretty annoying when people are bold enough to do it, unasked for, to someone else’s face. Feeling comfortable enough to do that, especially to someone one has never even met in person, often indicates a lack of respect.

Respect is a big deal to me. I spent too many years not being respected by people who supposedly loved me. So now, if someone is disrespectful to me, I tend to form a negative opinion and remember it for a long time.

So then I asked my friends this question:

Why do people feel the need to make assumptions about total strangers based on innocuous Facebook comments? I said I didn’t have a FB profile photo for awhile because I was “ugly”. I then explained that I don’t photograph well and once lacked selfie skills. Some person accused me of wanting to look like a model or a social influencer, then helpfully added that most of us don’t look like that, “and that’s okay.” 🖕

Nah, I never expected any of that. I just don’t like cringing at my visage.

That question invited more compliments and protests about my self-evaluation of my appearance. Again, I was genuinely asking the question, not looking for compliments. Okay, I was also annoyed and venting a little bit, too.

So I finally wrote this:

I think Bill is a handsome man, but he had the same problem I had. I am good at taking his picture, though, because I love him and make a point of catching his best features. Most people who photograph me (Bill included), get my multiple chins, cellulite, and beer gut. 😉 I just don’t want to see that in a photo of me. If I want to see that, I’ll look in the mirror. 😆

It’s true. I am legitimately very good at taking pictures of Bill. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do, either. He’s a very good looking man, in my opinion. However, he often doesn’t photograph well, because he’s camera shy and self-conscious about his appearance. He also has sensitive eyes and blinks easily. I have figured out a way to get him to look his best. It usually involves my telling him a dirty joke and making him laugh, then having laser sharp reflexes. Even with that method, sometimes I fail and catch him mid blink or slouching too much. I delete those photos, which he appreciates. I have gotten some pretty great shots of him, much to his mom’s delight.

Alas, Bill hasn’t caught on to using that trick for me. Or maybe he’s just better looking than I am. 😉 However, I have noticed that some of the best photos of me are the ones with him in them. He genuinely makes me smile, so I don’t look fake. When I take a selfie and try to smile, it often doesn’t look right, because it’s too posed. Lighting is also important. I look best in natural sunlight.

I know some people think all of this sounds vain… and maybe it is vain. But since I probably look at and notice my profile picture the most, I figure I should have one that doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t mean I want to be a model (Jesus Christ, really?). I have no desire to be a social influencer (and I’m 50 fucking years old, so that ain’t happening.) What other people think of my visage is really none of my business. I just don’t want to look like Ziggy. I’m much less concerned about my friends laughing at my photo at home, than I am about having to face that reflection myself.

… and that’s okay… (BARF)

Standard
communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, Duggars, rants, social media

“I’m not in need of correction from you, lady…”

Fair warning… for many people, this is going to be a really petty rant. Some readers will doubtlessly think it’s much ado about nothing, or that I’m being childish or silly. It’s fine to think that, but just so you know, I really don’t need to be corrected. I understand that the more mature beings in the world will probably think I should be posting about world peace or another lofty topic. And maybe that’s true… but it’s not what’s on my mind today. I’m often petty, obnoxious, and easily annoyed… but I own those characteristics. They’re part of what makes me “me”. I grew up with the message that who I am isn’t okay… and now that I’m 50, and realize that I won’t ever be changing. I’m working on living with myself. But you don’t have to live with me, so if I write something today that makes you think I need “correction”, “advice”, or anything else remotely resembling “special help”, I would like to encourage you to go write about it on your own blog and leave mine alone. 😉

So here’s what happened…

Yesterday, I was on the Duggar Family News page on Facebook. The page’s moderator posted about the Duggar Family’s annual Christmas celebration. A few days ago, I had noticed how extremely cute John David and Abbie Duggar’s daughter, Gracie, is. I even wrote about it in a recent post. It’s not that I don’t think all of the other Duggar grandchildren are cute. I just think Gracie is at a really sweet and expressive age, and she obviously mugs for the camera. She is especially adorable right now, in my opinion.

She is so CUTE. This is not the photo I commented on, by the way.
What a doll!

So I typed under the picture, “Gracie is so adorable”, or something along those lines. Nice, positive, kind comment for a child who probably can’t read, and wouldn’t be on that page, anyway, right? Several others agreed with me and signaled by hitting the “like” button. I didn’t mention her brother, Charlie, who is a beautiful baby, but to me, not as obviously cute as his big sister is. When he’s older, I’m sure he will give her a run for her money. Besides, everybody gushes over babies.

Early this morning, I opened up Facebook and noticed that I had a notification from someone I don’t know. Usually, one can tell what Facebook notifications are in reference to, but in this case, there wasn’t a clue. I had forgotten about the Duggar Family News post I’d made, and never thought it would be controversial. But there it was… Someone named Donna tagged me with the comment, “So is Charlie.”

What am I to make of this comment? It would be one thing if she’d just posted it without tagging me, making it clear that she was expressing her own opinion and not criticizing my comment. But she responded in a way that made it very likely that I would see her comment. And while I can’t be absolutely certain, since she’s a total stranger and I didn’t have any non-verbal cues to offer a hint, my guess is that her comment was meant to be pointed. How dare I comment on one child’s cuteness in a photo, and not the other child’s “equally” adorable visage? What is Charlie? Chopped liver? Give the lad a participation trophy, at least. Give me a break… he’s a BABY, and he’s not reading that page. I am sure his feelings won’t be hurt.

I’ll be honest. My first instinct was to respond to Donna with snark and sarcasm, because that seemingly corrective comment legitimately pissed me off. I know a lot of people would laugh about that “over-the-top” reaction, too… which makes it even worse. Because this was a genuine reaction I had to something that, in the grand scheme of things, really doesn’t matter. It’s just some busybody feeling the need to correct a perfect stranger’s innocuous opinions on Facebook, right? I have no idea why my comment triggered her enough to tag me with a response. For all I know, she’s just as irritated as I am. We all have our hot buttons.

There was a time when, indeed, I would have dashed off an inflammatory response to Donna. But middle age, years of psychotherapy, social work training, and the fact that I hadn’t been drinking, collectively gave me the gift of restraint and composure. I took a moment to consider if I wanted to make an actual reply, or even just leave a “laugh react” or “anger emoji”.

I very quickly decided that I didn’t really want to get into it with Donna over such a non-issue. I figured any response I would make would simply make me look bad, even though her comment was unnecessary and kind of disrespectful. So I deleted the notification and didn’t respond to Donna’s “correction”… at least not on Facebook. I’m sure she means well, but I don’t really want to get in a pissing match with some “biddy” I don’t know. Especially over something so inconsequential and… well, petty.

Since this incident has made me think for longer than a moment or two, I’ve decided to write about it today. Maybe other people can relate. I do feel slightly self-congratulatory for not taking Donna’s bait. I scored a “little victory” with that one, even if I am now posting mental spew in my blog. 😉 Fewer people read my blog than my Facebook page, though.

If I had been in a more engaging mood, how could I have best responded to Donna? I thought about it as I drank one of Bill’s expertly brewed cups of coffee, fixed just the way I like it. What can I say? My husband is truly wonderful. So let’s see…

There’s the positive approach. I could have acknowledged Donna’s “correction”, either in a sincere and apologetic fashion, or in an over-the-top, sickly sweet, passive-aggressive way…

  • “Of course, Charlie is cute, Donna. Thank you for the correction. May I have another?”
  • “Yes, he sure is scrumptious, Donna. Shame on me for not acknowledging it properly.”
  • “Oh, I’m sorry for the oversight. I’m such an ignorant clod. Charlie is also adorable.”
  • “Whatever would we do without you, Donna, to keep us straight when we comment on the Duggar grandchildren? We wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings… even if they can’t yet read, and wouldn’t be on this page, anyway.”
  • Or… just a plain old “Yes, you’re right, Donna. He is cute.”

Or, there’s the negative, confrontational, unfriendly approach…

  • “Speak for yourself, Donna. I don’t need your help.”
  • “Why did you feel the need to tag me, Donna? You think he’s cute? Good for you.”
  • “STFU, Donna.” Or my personal favorite, “Oh fuck off, Donna!”
  • “Trying to make yourself feel useful, Donna? Glad I could help you out.”
  • “Actually, I don’t really think he’s adorable. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.”

Or I could have been really passive-aggressive and just laughed, posted a “?”,… or used an obnoxious rolling eyes GIF to get my point across to her.

But as I had just opened my eyes, I didn’t feel the need to engage. I didn’t want to spend precious energy… especially since Donna is probably sleeping right now, anyway. I get the sense that she’s the kind of person who would wake up in a few hours, see my comment, and feel the need to “set me straight”. And then, hours after I was over it, I’d be invited to an online melee, which probably would have included other people who don’t know either of us. Life is too short for that shit. You gotta pick your battles, if you want to stay sane in this world.

On the other hand, maybe posting a “?” and inviting her to explain herself would be satisfying on some level… but I don’t like to be deliberately obtuse. I think I know what she meant by her comment. She was just “fixin’ it for me”… the petty bitch… tryin’ to hook me into a scuffle. 😉

I guess I’m just left kind of puzzled, though. Once again, a perfect stranger is looking at my innocuous communication from a seemingly negative, corrective way– like the people in my wine group who insinuated that I’m a “Karen” because I had the “audacity” to complain about a legitimately bad experience we had in a wine shop in France. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to be negative, but I don’t think our culture likes to admit it anymore. If you aren’t “positive” and inclusive all the time, you’re a problem, and need correction from others.

Then, there’s my dysfunctional, reptilian response to Donna’s “correction”. It comes from a lifetime of being the youngest child in a family where my presence wasn’t really welcomed or valued. For most of my youngest years, I was repeatedly criticized, corrected, and told, in no uncertain terms, that I wasn’t making the grade. I’m sure if I were to point this out to my family members, they would deny it… and again, that would be a perfect example of the problem. Because even if, in their minds, they weren’t overly critical of me, that was the message I constantly received and internalized. And now it’s a trigger, because I have come to realize that I do have worth, and my opinions matter to someone– even if it’s only me… and maybe Bill.

When someone leaves what appears to be “correction” for me, especially when it’s on something that is really innocuous, or of little actual consequence, I have a tendency to get very annoyed. I’m not referring to “constructive criticism”. Sometimes criticism is necessary for growth, for safety, or to become proficient in something. That kind of criticism is much less irritating to me. No, it’s petty criticism over things that don’t really matter that bugs me the most. Nobody likes to have their opinions corrected, especially on a “public” forum like Facebook. No one likes it when some smartass on Facebook posts, “Fixed it for ya!” in response to something they’ve written. It’s just diminishing, discounting behavior that is meant to make people feel small. And while getting annoyed over that behavior is legitimate, it’s also doubly bad to express that irritation, because that is, in and of itself, PETTY behavior. It really should not be worthy of any response whatsoever, but yet, I still feel compelled to express all of this so early in the morning. 😉 I’m sure a good therapist could help me figure this out, sometime.

There’s one other observation I would like to make. I was quite agitated about Donna’s comment when I got up, but by the time I’d finished breakfast and was draining my second cup of coffee, I had almost forgotten about it. If it weren’t for a silly exchange I had with my cousin regarding this incident, I probably would be posting about something more hard hitting and consequential today. 😉 See? It really doesn’t matter at all… It’s a minor blip in the day, now forever immortalized in my blog. And now I can smile and hold my head high, as I fold laundry and change the sheets on my bed… two chores that do need attending to, and will actually matter in my life.

So… not today, Donna. I’m not taking the bait and getting into a ridiculous online pissing match with you. I don’t agree with you, because I do think Gracie is cuter than Charlie is, at least right now. I don’t need you to correct my post, and I’m not going to validate your correction with any direct response– negative or positive– that gives you the opportunity to engage further with me and attempt to make me feel bad about myself. I am going to ignore you (except, of course, in my blog, which is not for you). Find someone else to play with. 😀

Off to go tend to my chores now… Have a great Tuesday, y’all.

Standard
communication, complaints, controversies, modern problems, social media, true crime

Sometimes it’s okay to complain…

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of posts that were kind of on the same theme. I wrote the first one for this blog. It was about how surprisingly hateful some people are about Brittney Griner being released from a Russian prison, while Paul Whelan stays in custody. Griner, who endured ten months of incarceration in Russia, was sent to San Antonio for medical treatment before she goes home to her wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Many, many people are apparently pissed off about this. They’d rather Brittney rot in a freezing cold Russian prison, where she’s too tall for a regular bed and her hands are too big for the usual labor of sewing. Most of these folks who are so salty toward Griner, and to Joe Biden for helping her, also claim to be Christians.

If you ask these people why they’re angry about Brittney Griner’s release, they’ll tell you it’s because she disrespected the flag by taking a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”. They think she hates her country, and for that reason, she should endure years of inhumane conditions in a prison behind the borders of our biggest enemy. I suspect they also don’t like Brittney because she’s not like they are. She’s 6’9″ tall. She’s Black and queer, and has a deep speaking voice. She uses marijuana. Deep down, people who espouse that much hatred are terrified by people who are different. They see Brittney as an immoral freak, and they want her banished for it. They also seem to think that she has no right to complain about racism. They tell her, “America– love it or leave it.” If something is wrong, you have no right to gripe. Because in their eyes, she’s less than they are.

Of course, Brittney has already shown us that she’s definitely NOT like the the people who want her to suffer. That’s a good thing. We need fewer people in our country who can’t embrace diversity. And we need fewer people who want to silence those who have legitimate concerns about the way things are going in the United States for anyone who isn’t a Christian, white, conservative male with a gun.

The other post I wrote yesterday was about how Bill and I complained about bad service we got at a wine shop in France. That entry was inspired by the reactions I got in a Facebook wine group I run. I posted about that experience because it was about wine shopping. The reactions I got initially blamed Bill and me for our bad experience. No one said it outright, but I got the sense that some people thought maybe I was being a “karen” (for lack of a better word). Somehow, ever since the term “karen” became popular, people seem to think that anytime someone complains, particularly if it’s a middle-aged, white woman of means, they’re acting like an entitled whiner.

In response to my post, I got some not so subtle chastising about my so-called lack of cultural sensitivity, lack of language skills (because I took Spanish instead of French when I was in school), and overall bad attitude. Another person assumed I had somehow “misunderstood” what had happened. They wanted to excuse the salesperson for serving straight up bad service, with generous side orders of disdain and disrespect. All we were trying to do was spend some money on local wines. For our efforts, we got the wrong wines, and egregiously rude treatment.

Then, when we complained, we got even more rude treatment, dismissing, discounting, and blame. I guess we shouldn’t have said anything? What really astonished me, though, was that the American people who were blaming ME for my bad experience were people who have never met me and don’t know the first thing about me. Why would they assume it was my fault that I had the misfortune of doing business with someone with a very obvious STANK attitude? All I did was go into a wine shop for a few minutes because I wanted to buy wine. Isn’t that what the wine shop is for?

I think it’s because in America, we’re quite fond of pushing toxic positivity. We discourage people from being negative, even if they have every right to complain. We like to blame the victim, even in situations that are egregiously unjust or horrific. Brittney Griner was arrested at the airport for having a small amount of hashish oil and vape cartridges in her luggage. Yes, it was against Russian law to have those items in her luggage, but it’s not like anyone was killed. I also highly doubt that the people who felt the nine years in prison was a just sentence would say the same thing if it was them or a loved one who got such a sentence, even in the United States. Mention harsh penalties, though, and you’re no doubt going to hear “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Some people seem to think that if you do something wrong, no punishment is too harsh… especially if you’re different and dare to speak up about things.

This morning over breakfast, I was reading about the world’s most “welcoming” countries, in terms of which countries will allow visa free visitors from the most nations. Singapore was mentioned as a very “welcoming” country. I’m sure Singapore is a beautiful place with kind and interesting citizens. But when I think of Singapore, I can’t help but remember the 1994 case of Michael P. Fay, and how he wound up getting four strikes with a rattan cane for vandalizing cars and stealing road signs. When he committed his crimes, Michael Fay was 18 years old and had moved to Singapore to live with his mother and stepfather.

I remember, during Fay’s fifteen minutes of fame, a lot of people were saying that Fay had asked for the caning, which was originally set to six strokes. He also got four months in jail and had to pay about S$3500 (Singapore dollars). The United States government intervened in that case, too, and Fay wound up getting only four strikes of the cane, which caused bleeding and scarring on his buttocks. Then he was deported, and when he got home, he promptly got into more legal trouble.

I don’t think Brittney Griner is going to do what Michael P. Fay did, once she’s been released from the hospital. Moreover, I don’t think Brittney’s initial crime was of the same magnitude as Fay’s was. What Griner did ultimately didn’t harm anyone. Fay and his friends actually did significant harm to other people’s property, costing them money and inconveniencing them. Personally, I thought the caning was barbaric, and it obviously didn’t teach Fay anything. But Griner’s punishment was much worse, and not only did she endure inhumane conditions, but her own countrymen are hurling abuse at her. I wonder if they’d be this vicious if Brittney Griner was a straight, white woman with conservative proclivities.

Besides being male and Caucasian, Michael Fay had something going for him that Brittney didn’t. He committed his crimes at a time when social media didn’t exist, and the Internet was only just getting started. He also became infamous at a time when our country was less polarized and weird. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me. I do remember though, at the time of Michael P. Fay’s crime, some people were calling him a spoiled brat. But they weren’t gleeful about the prospect of his ass being literally shredded by the caustic strikes of a rattan cane. They weren’t calling for him to rot in a foreign hellhole. They weren’t telling him he had no right to complain.

Sometimes, things are just plain wrong. Sometimes, they’re flat out terrible. People should always have the right to point out the bad things, because that’s how things get better. Keeping silent when there’s been an injustice sends a message that everything’s okay. Sometimes a complaint might seem “silly”. I’m sure some people in my wine group thought I was posting about a first world problem. I’ll admit that getting the wrong wine isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things… although I mainly wrote that post because my wine group is pretty dead lately. Brittney Griner’s situation is, of course, much more serious. Before she went to Russia to play basketball, she had the gall to “take a knee” against racism. She had the nerve to speak up and be noticed, and point out that America isn’t all that great and needs improvement. For that, there are people who literally think she should be suffer for years. I’ll bet that a lot of those folks, fine upstanding Christians that they are, also secretly hope she dies. That’s how warm and tender these supposed “Christ loving” people are…

Anyway… I suppose I’ve gone on long enough. I feel inspired to do a little music today, so I think I’ll sign off and get to work on that. Have a great Saturday… and embrace your inner “karen” if you are so inclined and a situation merits it.

Standard
communication, complaints, controversies, ethics, law, true crime

Why do so many people like to blame the victim?

Yesterday was an interesting day. It started in the usual way and ended with a couple of situations that have led me to ponder this morning. Why do so many people seem to think others deserve anything negative that happens to them? Why do some people have this innate instinct to spin any tragic or awful situation into something that could and should have been avoided or prevented? And why do so many people seem to want to see other people suffer?

Take Brittney Griner’s situation. Griner is a basketball star who won gold medals at the Olympics and played for the W.N.B.A. She went to Russia to play basketball. In February, she was arrested at an airport in Moscow when customs agents found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage. Griner’s arrest happened just before Russia invaded Ukraine. Her case was soon international and daily news, especially when in August of this year, she was sentenced to nine years at a Russian penal colony.

Yesterday afternoon, Europe time, it was announced that Griner was exchanged for a notorious Russian arms dealer named Viktor Bout who was doing time in a U.S. prison. Bout had been languishing in the United States for eleven years, and was sentenced to twenty-five years.

My first reaction, when I read about Brittney Griner’s release, was relief. I always like to hear about Americans who are locked up abroad– especially when they are obviously being used as political pawns– being released and coming home. Yes, I know that fellow American, Paul Whelan, is also locked up in Russia, serving sixteen years of hard labor, and President Biden wasn’t able to secure his release. But he was able to get Brittney out, and now she’s coming home to her wife, Cherrelle Griner, and her parents. Yes, I know she broke Russian law by having hashish oil in her luggage, but I don’t think that crime should warrant being locked in a Russian hellhole, being tortured, starved, and forced to work in inhumane conditions. I don’t think ANY prisoner should be treated that way, regardless of their crimes. Russia is well known for mistreating prisoners.

Maybe trading Griner for Bout was an “uneven exchange”, but what was the alternative?

I read a number of puzzling responses to the news that Brittney was released. Some people were actually ANGRY about it. They cited the fact that Whelan is still locked up, and he is somehow a “better American” than Brittney is. One woman, upon reading that Griner would be going to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, wrote that she should be happy, since “medical marijuana is legal in Texas.” Was that response that really necessary? Why can’t people simply be happy that an American citizen is not going to be tortured for nine years for a very minimal offense? Whose side are they on, anyway?

One of the comments regarding Brittney Griner’s situation.

I also get that some people don’t like Brittney Griner because they see her as immoral and unAmerican. She’s a Black lesbian who took a knee during the national anthem, protesting racism. She moved to Russia to play basketball instead of staying in the United States. For these “crimes”, she should have to languish for years in a Russian hellhole prison? I know a lot of people are also upset because marriage equality in the United States is about to be made federal law, and Brittney Griner’s “out” sexual orientation and marriage to another woman are very visible displays of what some Christian Americans see as an abomination. It amazes me that so-called Christians enjoy it when people suffer, especially as punishment for things that are beyond their control.

I’ve seen this kind of negative “victim blaming” response in a lot of situations. I’ve also seen a lot of Americans expressing very harsh reactions to people who commit what amount to minimal violations of the law. I’ve written about this a few times in my blog. See my unpopular comments about Debra Hunter, Lori Loughlin, and Skylar Mack, women who did jail time for what turned out to be pretty minor offenses. 😉

Recently, I read about a Tik Tok user named Katie Sigmond who decided to hit a golf ball over the rim of the Grand Canyon. In the course of sending the ball over the edge, she also tossed her golf club. This was all filmed and put on Tik Tok, where Sigmond has almost seven million followers. Officials at the Grand Canyon found out who Sigmond was and issued a fine. The amount of the fine wasn’t specified, but one official said that the fine for what Katie did was usually about $280.

The comments about the fine were pretty ridiculous. I saw more than one outraged person writing that Sigmond should get a jail sentence for her stunt. Really? I could see a jail sentence if Sigmond’s Tik Tok stunt had actually hurt someone. What her offense actually amounted to, though, was littering. Should we really jail people for being litterbugs? I think a fine, community service, and perhaps being banned from the Grand Canyon for awhile is punishment enough.

Why do so many Americans think that jail is the end all, be all for punishment? Do people ever stop and think about how being incarcerated affects the person who is jailed, and their families? Do they consider how putting people behind bars affects society? And do people ever stop and think about when a person has been disciplined enough for a crime? At what point would some of these jail cheerleaders think Sigmond has suffered enough for littering? Would a week be enough, or would they rather see her sit in a prison cell for years? Is that how they would like to be treated if they ran afoul of the law?

The longer I live, the more I think that people don’t really stop and think about the long term consequences of their actions. I’m sure Griner thought she’d get away with bringing hashish oil into Russia. Her mind was probably on playing basketball, not on the fact that she’s an American who was living in country with a leader who has no qualms about finding any excuse whatsoever to use people as pawns. I know for a fact that Russians aren’t inherently bad people simply because they’re Russian. But a lot of Americans seem to think that Griner “asked for” her situation simply because she moved to Russia to play a sport she apparently loves.

Lots of people seem to think Brittney Griner should still be sitting in a Russian prison. They see her as a “traitor” for not staying in the United States. I don’t know what Brittney Griner’s reasons were for moving to Russia. It might have simply been about making money, which I think is fair enough, especially when a person makes a living as an athlete. Professional athletes have a limited shelf life. Maybe she needed the money. Maybe she thought it would be an exciting adventure. Maybe she just loves the game and wants to play during the off season. In any case, she moved to Russia for whatever reason, and got caught up in an international game.

Do people really think Griner deserved nine years in a penal colony for what she did? And why is making money a crime? Especially in our capitalistic society, where people’s successes and worthiness are often based on whether or not they make money?

Awful… and totally unnecessary.

I’ve got more to write on this subject, but I’m going to put those thoughts in my travel blog, because the other situation I want to write about has to do with travel… But the theme is the same. A lot of Americans LOVE to blame the victim. And they love to criticize anyone who has a valid complaint. I don’t understand that mindset, but I notice that it’s especially prevalent in military communities. Bill calls it the “suck it up and drive on” mentality. I call it annoying as hell… Anyway, if you want to read about that situation, have a look at the travel blog later, after I’ve vented my spleen. 😀

I’m glad Brittney Griner is going to be free. I hope she has the best holiday season this year. Her life is meaningful, and Americans should be glad that she’s out of prison instead of wishing to see her rot.

Standard
complaints

We’re hoooome… and now to trot out an old chestnut gripe of mine…

Bill and I got home about an hour ago. I’ve already unpacked, and am in the process of doing a load of laundry. In a couple of hours, I’ll get dressed for our big date night at the Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt. I don’t plan to wear anything fancy, as the weather is truly rotten today. It wasn’t so bad when we left France, but by the time we got into Germany, it was very wet, cold, and a bit windy. To make things stranger, we had an odd encounter at a rest stop.

I went for a pee break first, having pulled out 70 cents in change. I made the mistake of taking out two five cent pieces instead of a ten or twenty cent piece. The machine wouldn’t accept it, which gave some weird, bearded, French speaking guy enough time to try to engage me. He asked if I spoke French, I said “no”, and probably looked really bitchy. I couldn’t help it, though. I was cold and needed to pee, and wasn’t in the mood to talk to a stranger. The French speaking guy kept trying to engage the Serways (bathroom attendant) guy, who didn’t seem interested in talking to him, either. After I read a sign on the door in German advising me to wash my hands– (it said, “Where have your hands been today?)– I cleaned up and scuttled out of there, not taking a moment to see if there was anything appetizing for sale. I was, and still am, a bit hungry.

Bill went to the restroom next. While he was gone, I looked up and noticed a man standing right in front of our car, facing a field. A second later, I realized he was urinating right in front of me. Now, it’s not that this hasn’t happened before. In fact, it’s happened more times than I can count. People don’t want to pay 70 cents to pee in the rest stop, so they whiz outside. It’s usually men and boys who do it. What I don’t get, though, is why they are never discreet about it. This guy was standing right next to a building. He could have at least ducked behind it to do his business.

Also… it was so cold and rainy outside. I can’t imagine it was very pleasant for him to be publicly urinating in that weather. I’m not a man, but I thought there was a certain issue with “shrinkage” when it’s cold outside. I took a photo of him, because I’m awful that way. I don’t know him at all, and I doubt he would be recognized by anyone… but I just want people to remember that someone is always watching. And while it’s no shame to need to go pee, it is technically illegal to do so in public, even in Germany, where public nudity isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, that rule against wild pissing is rarely enforced here. I guess if someone peed in front of a cop, they’d get a ticket.

I swear, it never fails that I will see someone whizzing at a rest stop. I don’t think it’s a big deal at one of the pull off stops, where truckers stop for a rest, or even when there are free public toilets that are sometimes absolutely disgusting. But I always have a crapload of euro coins to get rid of. Why are these folks so cheap? Or do they just enjoy being exhibitionists? I don’t know… but pissing outside in cold, rainy weather fully in view in front of strangers says a lot about a person… and none of it is good.

The guy looked well dressed enough, though. Seriously? Was it really better to pee in the rain? Maybe I need to have a dick to know the truth about such matters.

Standard