condescending twatbags, healthcare, overly helpful people

Asshole detectors…

Yesterday, I read an article on The Atlantic entitled “Are Outdoor Mask Mandates Still Necessary?” Written by Derek Thompson, this piece was exactly what it sounds like… an article about whether or not people should be forced to wear face masks when they are outside. Here in Germany, we aren’t obligated to wear a mask outdoors if we can “socially distance”. I have noticed that despite the rather anal retentive and uptight rule following stereotype that seems to dog the German people, folks here are not too jazzed about wearing masks 24/7. I never see people wearing them when I’m walking my dogs through the neighborhood, although people do wear them at bus stops because it’s required.

Thompson included statements from respected public health experts from around the world, explaining why the zero tolerance/100% enforcement attitude could backfire in getting people to comply with the rules. Thompson wrote:

Requiring that people always wear masks when they leave home, and especially in places with low levels of viral transmission, is overkill. As mentioned, the coronavirus disperses outside, posing little risk to people who are walking alone or even swiftly passing by strangers. In fact, almost all of the documented cases of outdoor transmission have involved long conversations, or face-to-face yelling. The risk calculation changes if you’re standing in a crowd: Some uneven evidence suggests that the Black Lives Matter protests last summer increased local infections. But that’s an easy carve-out. States can end blanket mandates and still recommend outdoor masking by anyone experiencing symptoms, or in crowds. (Extended conversations pose their own risk, but when people are vaccinated, the odds of viral transmission are probably somewhere between microscopic and nonexistent.)

Outdoor mask mandates might also turn people off from obeying better rules. “Given the very low risk of transmission outdoors, I think outdoor mask use, from a public-health perspective, seems arbitrary,” Muge Cevik, an infectious-disease and virology expert at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, told The Washington Post. “I think it affects the public’s trust and willingness to engage in much higher-yield interventions. We want people to be much more vigilant in indoor spaces.”

Makes sense to me. If I’m alone in the woods or swiftly passing someone on my walking route, I don’t think wearing a mask is as important as it would be if I was in a huge crowd of people who are shouting. Also, there are quite a lot of people who just plain resent being “nannied” and “nagged” by others. If we let people exercise their free will in less risky areas, they may be more willing to cooperate when they’re indoors. And yes, to me, it makes more sense to wear a mask when indoors with strangers than it does out on the street, when you can be far enough away from people not to risk sharing germs.

Thompson continues:

Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, spoke with several male mask skeptics last year for a piece in The Atlantic. When she explained that masking wasn’t as important outdoors, the men became more amenable to wearing them indoors. By connecting rules to reasons, she got them to see the value of covering their nose and mouth when it actually mattered. Last week, Marcus told me that she’s baffled by the notion that the best way to get people to wear masks inside is to mandate that everybody wear one when they’re alone outside. “We don’t recommend condom use when people are enjoying themselves alone to get them to wear condoms with their sexual partners,” she said.

The argument that outdoor mask mandates create a warm and fuzzy feeling of social solidarity confuses a personal definition of etiquette (“I think my mask makes everybody feel safe”) with a public defense of population-wide laws (“everybody should wear a mask everywhere, because it’s the only way to make everybody feel safe). Masks send all sorts of messages to all sorts of different people. To some, they’re beacons of safety; to others, they’re signs of imperious government overreach. As Marcus argued, mandating a public-health tool that’s not needed can drive away people who might otherwise be on board with more important interventions. “I think there’s a proportion of the population that believes restrictions will last indefinitely,” Marcus said, “and they are probably one of the hardest groups to keep engaged in public-health efforts.”

And I also liked that Thompson considered that not everyone has the same reality. A lot of people– myself included– are lucky enough to have backyards or balconies. But many more people are not so fortunate. In our previous house, we lived next to a large naturepark. But we didn’t have balconies or a yard with a functional fence, where we could let the dogs out free. The fence at our last house was more of a decoration, and would not have allowed us to safely sit outside with the dogs untethered. I know a lot of other people in Germany simply live in flats with no private spaces at all. As Thompson says:

Finally, mandating outdoor masks and closing public areas makes a show of “taking the virus seriously” while doing nothing to reduce indoor spread, in a way that often hurts the less fortunate. To deal with its COVID-19 spike, for example, the Canadian province of Ontario instituted a stay-at-home order and closed many parks and playgrounds. “These policies are made by people who have yards,” Marcus said. “If you live in an apartment building and have no yard, and are required to wear masks at all times outdoors, you never get to be maskless outside. And then, where do people gather maskless to socialize? Inside their homes”—where the risk of transmission is higher.

I thought Thompson’s article was fair and balanced, and the information within it was reasonable. I especially appreciated the comments from Julia Marcus, who came right out and said that there are people (like me) who worry that the mask mandates will turn into an indefinite rule. Allowing for some easing of the rules outside gives people hope that we won’t have to tolerate these rules forever, and that will make it easier to keep being vigilant. A lot of us just PLAIN don’t want to live this way for the rest of our lives, and we resent other people insisting that this is the way it HAS to be from now on. The fact is, many people feel that this is NOT how it should be. We should be working hard on a solution that makes mask wearing obsolete for most people. Or, at least that’s my opinion… but it seems like more and more people, especially in the United States, feel like only one opinion is the correct one. Anyone who disagrees is automatically an “asshole.”

One thing I take comfort in, at least here in Germany, is that it’s pretty obvious to me that people here are not going to accept being forced to wear face masks forever. In fact, I have noticed that even rule loving Germans are starting to rebel. There have been more protests lately, especially as Angela Merkel has pressed for stricter lockdowns. People are really getting tired of the crisis and they’re becoming more apathetic and lax.

I know there are people in some countries that are forced to wear veils whenever they are outside, but the rest of the world isn’t the Islamic world, where those kinds of oppressive rules are okay. And Thompson then ends with this uplifting conclusion:

Hyper-neuroticism is a mitzvah during a pandemic. But we really don’t have to live like this forever, and it’s okay for more people to say so. We can learn to look at a well-populated beach and not see a gross failure of human morality. We can see somebody unmasked in a park and not think, I guess that one doesn’t believe in science. We can walk down an uncrowded street with a mask, or without a mask, or with a mask sort of hanging from our chin, and just not really worry about it. We can reduce unnecessary private anxiety and unhelpful public shame by thinking for a few seconds about how the coronavirus actually works and how to finally end the pandemic. Let’s tell people the truth and trust that they can take it. Let’s plan for the end of outdoor mask mandates.

BRAVO! And let that be the FIRST step in eventually ending ALL mask mandates, because COVID-19 will be under control, like most infectious diseases usually become after time passes and science advances. Or, at least that’s what I think we should be aiming for. That’s what makes the masks different from seatbelts, which I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of, at least in my lifetime.

I felt pretty good as I read Derek Thompson’s article. But as I finished reading about how there’s a weird dichotomy between hyper-neurotic mask police types and vehement anti-maskers, I had sinking feeling that there would be tons of comments left on the magazine’s Facebook page. Sure enough, I was right. So many people, clearly folks who didn’t bother to read, left comments regarding this article. And one person wrote that non-maskers are his personal form of an “asshole detector”. Behold:

At this point I think of them less as masks and more as asshole detectors. Even if the chances are small, it’s the very least you can do for your fellow man. How damned privileged is our society that this is a hot button issue? If it happens to save even a few extra lives, it’s worth it. Buck up buttercups.

Seriously, dude? I think YOU are an asshole for taking this attitude toward your fellow man, especially as you pat yourself on the back for being so “considerate” as you judge people you don’t even know. And I think people who comment on things they haven’t read are assholes, adding unnecessary and uninformed noise that everybody else has to wade through.

and…

I live in southern Georgia and literally no one wears masks in stores, etc. All asshole behavior. I literally got into a verbal argument with a man that refused to stand on the 6 ft marker on floor in grocery store check out line. No mask. Even the clerk was like, “Sir, stand back!” It’s like the non-maskers get off on being a bully.

Why get in an argument with someone? Just get away from them. Arguing with a stranger is “asshole behavior” too, isn’t it?

There were more comments like that, along with the usual chorus of people writing things like “just wear the damn mask”, which I find pretty offensive, myself. I don’t think it helps compliance when you swear at people. In fact, people who swear at perfect strangers are probably assholes, right? I actually feel like telling them to go fuck themselves, but because I’m a lady, I don’t do that. 😉 Instead, I just think it to myself… and if I get angry enough, I vent about it in my blog.

I mean, I do wear a mask if I have to. But I go out of my way not to be in situations where I have to wear a mask, or deal with assholes who take it upon themselves to determine what perfect strangers are or are not doing as “asshole detectors”. Here’s one that made me laugh…

But it doesn’t matter. Wear the mask. It’s not an inconvenience in any way. It’s the least difficult thing that has ever been asked of us to do collectively. Articles like this only lend credence to selfish, broken people. Wear the mask until the pandemic is over. Simple. And until then, STFU.

Dude… to some people, it truly IS an inconvenience. You may not think it is, but they do– and they get an opinion and a vote, too! And telling someone to STFU, sorry, is also “asshole behavior”. You don’t get to tell people to STFU, simply because you claim to agree with the opinions of “experts” and you assume they don’t. There are all kinds of people out there who really are experts, and most of them have more balanced, fair, informed, and sensible opinions than yours. This lady had a sensible comment, in my opinion…

As a biologist, I can confirm that masking while outside was only suggested if you would be less than six feet from others (the transmission distance for errant coughs, sneezes or loud talking); it was never required by science to mask all the time outside. I carry or wear it and put up/on as I approach others on a path etc. ps I would warn against dining inside until one is vaccinated: the author’s point about the indoors being highest risk is valid.

And this guy also has reasonable thoughts, in my view…

I agree with this. The problem with outdoor mask mandates with fines for noncompliance is it becomes something law enforcement can selectively enforce. Look at what Miami was doing. They passed an ordinance that said everyone had to wear a mask at all times indoors or outdoors even when social distancing is possible. Miami police basically set up mask traps and stood outside supermarkets just waiting for people to come out of the store and take the mask off or wear it under their nose so they could ticket them. A woman was walking through an empty parking lot without a mask and was ticketed. Someone was in a barbershop and pulled his mask down for a few seconds to take a drink of water and a police officer happened to be walking by and that person was ticketed. I think a reasonable person would agree that this enforcement was overreach. I get the seriousness of the virus, but you have to give people a little breathing room. If a person is walking in an empty parking lot or on a back residential street and is not wearing a mask, but has a mask with them in case he or she comes to a situation where he or she can’t socially distance, then I don’t see the problem.

Sounds to me like Miami has found a great way to fill its coffers by oppressively fining people over mask wearing. Glad I don’t live there, especially as hot as it gets.

It baffles me that so many people have gone to such extremes on this issue. It should be perfectly okay to hate wearing a face mask. It should be okay to say it out loud, and hope for the mandates to end at some point. It should be alright to expect and fervently hope that we’ll get to a point at which this nightmare is either ended or mitigated. Otherwise, why go on living? I HATE living this way, and I don’t have it as bad as a whole lot of people do. Telling people that they don’t have the right to their feelings is toxic, and labeling them as “assholes” because you make assumptions about their character based on their masking habits is extremely limiting and offensive. Obviously, people who feel this way about other people are assholes themselves. Are there really people out there who think the whole world should be expected to accept living like this from now on? It blows my mind! As long as people are complying, what’s it to you, anyway?

I particularly love it when people compare mask wearing to wearing a seatbelt, or they compare going outside maskless with drunk or reckless driving. It’s absolute lunacy. I think, if seeing someone’s bare face outside in a sparsely populated area makes you compare them to drunk drivers or reckless people, you should simply do your best to avoid them. That’s what I do when I see someone on the road who drives erratically. I let them go ahead and get away from them. I don’t fan the flames by flipping them off or cursing at them through my window. Doing that in Germany can get you a pretty stiff fine, actually. It’s against the law to insult people or shoot the bird at them. Seems like doing one’s best to avoid problems is the better way to get through life. But… that’s just me.

Sigh… I really think Derek Thompson’s article is a good one. It gave me hope to read it. And, if people had taken the time to read it, they’d find that he consulted “experts” before he shared his thoughts. He’s quoted a Harvard educated epidemiologist, for Christ’s sakes, yet so many people feel the need to claim that Thompson is being “irresponsible” by giving people hope that things will get better! I would certainly listen to Julia Marcus of Harvard Medical School talking about COVID-19 and mask wearing than I would some jerk commenting on The Atlantic’s Facebook page.

Anyway… if you read all of this blog post and don’t think it’s an “asshole detector”, I thank you. I really think these hyper-vigilant, hyper-neurotic, nagging mask cheerleaders are how we wind up with right wing nutjobs like Marjorie Taylor Greene and straight up narcissistic creeps like Donald Trump in charge. There needs to be balance in all things… and that includes mask mandates. But maybe I’m just an asshole who needs to STFU. If you honestly think that about me, I hope you will take it as a cue to find someone else’s blog to read. 😉

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, social media

Thou shalt set a “good example”… especially if you’re a celebrity!

This morning, I read an article in the Washington Post about the late Charley Pride, who recently died of COVID-19. Well, if I’m honest, the article wasn’t “just” about Charley Pride. It was mostly about the backlash surrounding Pride’s death at age 86 and how COVID-19 has been affecting musicians– country musicians in particular. Yes, the article did lead with Pride’s death on December 12, a month after he received a lifetime achievement award at the annual Country Music Association awards. There was also a picture of Charley Pride, who was notable for being Black and singing music typically associated with people who have southern accents and light colored skin (not that the only people who like country are “rednecks” from the South, or that everyone who is southern is a redneck).

As many people know, the CMA awards took place as usual this year, indoors and maskless. Charley Pride happened to die of COVID-19. Many people assume he caught the virus at the Nashville event, which featured lots of people appearing on camera without masks. Now… I sure don’t know where Charley Pride came in contact with COVID-19. It’s possible that he got infected at the CMA awards. Or, maybe he got it from somewhere else. The fact is, he got it, and he’s now dead. I saw quite a lot of people wringing their hands over Mr. Pride’s death, acting as if he wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t accepted his award in person. It was as if the CMA awards organizers, who have been putting on this event for as long as I can remember, had “blood” on their hands.

Folks… I get that COVID-19 is a terrible thing and we should all be doing our part to limit and even eliminate its spread. But Charley Pride was 86 years old. I don’t know how many years he would have had left if he hadn’t caught the virus, but given the average lifespan of human beings in 2020, my guess is that he probably wouldn’t have had a really long time. He was 86 years old. Eventually, he was destined to die, as we all are.

Would people be just as angry if Pride had had a heart attack or a stroke? Would we be angrily pointing fingers at his (hypothetical, since I don’t know anything about Pride’s lifestyle) decisions to eat fried foods, smoke cigarettes, and avoid exercise, complaining about how his decision to not live “the right way” led to Pride’s “untimely” death?

I think I heard of Charley Pride for the first time on an ad for an album like this one.

Maybe Charley Pride could have lived to be 87 or 88 years old if he’d just done the “right” things and lived the way the experts recommend? No… I don’t think so. 86 years is a good run, and Charley Pride was lucky enough to live the bulk of his life without a pandemic going on. I am sorry that Charley Pride died, especially since he did have such a groundbreaking career in country music. But what happened to him will eventually happen to everyone. It happened to be COVID-19 that killed him at age 86, but it could have easily been something else. The end result is the same, any way you look at it. He’s dead.

Furthermore, while we are all being asked to stay away from others and wear face masks when we can’t, the fact is, people are still getting the virus. Sometimes, they’re getting it even when they do everything “right”. I don’t think it’s helpful to point fingers at those who get sick. I think we should have compassion for them, for I have read that COVID-19 is NOT a nice way to go. I have been trying to do the best I can not to get the virus. I haven’t ridden in a car since October 4th. I haven’t left my neighborhood since then, either. I walk my dogs, and that’s about it. I am lucky enough to be in a living situation in which I can do that. Not everyone is that lucky. We all have to get by in life the best way we can.

The rest of the article pointed out that the masses are being pretty hard on celebrities who flout the COVID-19 rules. Musicians and other performers have been particularly badly hit by the virus. Nine months ago, they lost their main ability to make a living. At the same time, people who earn money as performers as are lucky enough to be well-known are being hassled about their choices. They are expected to “set a good example” for everyone, and people go fucking berserk if they dare to post a picture of themselves doing anything popularly deemed “wrong”.

Part of this phenomenon, I think, comes from people being really bored, and angry that they’re bored. So, when they see someone like Jason Aldean at Disney World with his family, taking a photo without a face mask, they go into outrage mode and leave shitty comments. Mr. Aldean recently got a keyboard lashing from some woman who was outraged that he’d dare take a family photo while unmasked. Aldean’s response was, “Chill out lady. They are in our pocket. We took them off for 5 seconds to take the pic. Believe me, Disney didn’t give us a ‘free pass’ not to wear them. We had them on all day just like everybody else.” Later, he deleted the photo.

The same thing recently happened to actor Wil Wheaton, who dared to post a photo of himself and his wife at a red carpet event that happened in 2016. Wheaton got shitloads of disapproving comments from his followers, which he angrily addressed the next day. Celebrities are people too, and I’m sure most of them don’t appreciate rude comments from random people who are just reacting to and criticizing a photo without any context. The pandemic has made it almost taboo to post photos indicating “normal” behavior, even if the photo is older than March 2020.

For some reason, people feel compelled to call out “bad” behaviors, especially in our hyper connected social media age. Everyone has a cell phone these days, and most of the phones are capable of making videos. So, even before the pandemic started, folks were taking pictures and videos and calling people out online. But now, it’s gotten epically bad. God forbid someone post a photo of a large gathering or a maskless face… or a child who isn’t properly and perfectly strapped into a seatbelt or a car seat. Someone will post a criticism. Hell, I changed my cover photo to one I took of our village’s annual Christmas market. The photo was taken in 2019. I felt the need to add a disclaimer, just to head off any negative comments about crowds and a lack of face masks.

Some people, celebrities in particular, have stopped sharing photos at all, because they are tired of people calling them out. Thomas Rhett, and his wife, Lauren Akins, recently posted photos on Instagram of a trip they took to Mexico. Fans were quick to chastise the couple with self-righteous comments like, “Wish I could be happy for you but the rest of us are not traveling to try to keep covid at bay.” Rhett’s response was to “take a break” from Instagram because he was sick of dealing with the annoying comments that completely lacked contextual awareness. I can’t say I blame him for that.

Personally, I don’t see the point of calling people out for their photos. It’s not like leaving a nasty comment is going to change the behavior in the moment. What good does it do to criticize someone for not setting a good example when the moment has already long passed? Telling off Jason Aldean for daring to pose for a photo maskless at Disney World isn’t going to change the fact that he took the photo. And why shouldn’t he be allowed to take the photo and share it without a bunch of critical bullshit from strangers? Can people not comprehend that a photo is but an instant of someone’s life? Can folks not understand that a video of someone is just a drop in the bucket as to who someone is?

But… I really think people are just bored, scared, frustrated, angry, and bereaved… and they’re lashing out, particularly when they think someone is “privileged”. And a lot of the people who are judging others for their behaviors and being “privileged” have appointed themselves as having the right to keep score. I’m not sure what makes someone qualified to judge others, but suffice to say, if you’re not in a group that is deemed oppressed or disadvantaged in some way, you’re gonna hear about it when you aren’t doing the “right” thing, especially if you also have the nerve to publicize it on social media.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I think COVID-19 is awful on many levels. It’s made things very difficult for so many. I have nothing but compassion for people who get the virus– yes, even the ones who got it because they were doing “wrong”. What is now considered “wrong” wasn’t even on the radar a year ago. We all miss our lives, and most people really are just trying to get through this epic shitshow. Yes, some people could be taking the virus more seriously. Some people are egregiously taking risks that I wouldn’t take. But I think they must have their reasons for doing those things. It’s entirely possible they’re doing it because they’re selfish, but it’s also possible that they have other reasons that I don’t know about. And personally, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, whenever I can, because trying to believe the best about most people brings me more peace than simply assuming they’re selfish assholes (even if they actually are). I have enough problems with depression without assuming that everyone who isn’t doing what experts deem “the right thing” and not “setting a good example” is a jerk. I’d like to think that more people are good, than inherently bad.

In any case, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, for now. I don’t mind. But that’s just me. I don’t know what someone else is going through or what will make living through this strange time easier. And it’s just easier to let people do as they will. A judgmental comment from me isn’t going to change anything. On the other hand, when it comes to spelling and grammar, all bets are off. 😉

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, family, rants

Why don’t you drive your own car, and let me drive mine?

When you have to tell someone to STFU…

Yesterday, Bill had to take me to Clay Kaserne so I could turn in a passport renewal application. Because we live in Germany under special circumstances, we have to renew our passports through the Army instead of the usual way. I will get my tourist passport updated, and then it will get a new “SOFA” stamp, which is basically like a residential permit for people affiliated with the U.S. government.

As we were coming back from turning in my passport application, we were on the Autobahn, and Bill was trying to negotiate as a trucker cut him off in traffic. A woman driving behind Bill obviously thought she knew how he should be driving. She wanted him to get into another lane or move faster, and indicated her preferences rather colorfully in her car. She didn’t see that there was a vehicle in front of Bill preventing him from doing her bidding, but he could see her shaking her head at him and giving him a disapproving look (many Germans are world class at the art of the disapproving look).

As Bill expressed frustration at the meddlesome driver who couldn’t see what he did, I quipped, “Why doesn’t she drive her own car, and let you drive yours?” I’m reminded of that as I write today’s post. Sometimes, we need to remind people to “drive their own cars” instead of driving yours. In other words, you live your life, and I’ll live mine.

My relatives seem to experience different versions of our family, all based on which branch of the family they’re in. I have a bunch of cousins in Georgia and Texas– descendants of one of my dad’s sisters and one of his brothers– who are all pretty close. Or so it seems. My immediate family is not now, nor has it ever been, close-knit. My three sisters and I are scattered and we don’t typically spend a lot of time together. I suspect that when my mom dies, we may even lose touch entirely with each other. I grew up mostly fending for myself, even as people were telling me what to do. I realize that doesn’t make sense. It does make sense if you observe my family. We’re not particularly close, but some people within it have no trouble giving you unsolicited opinions or orders about what you should or should not be doing.

Three years ago today, I had an online altercation with my aunt’s brother. This aunt, who was once one of my favorite people in the world, was married to my dad’s brother, who died of a stroke last year. My dad’s brother and I were pretty close… or as close as one can get in my version of the family.

As I was looking at my social media memories, I ran across the altercation I had with my aunt’s brother. I once had a lot of respect for him. He’s a retired Virginia state trooper, a retired soldier, and has worked with Bill and a bunch of his former Army colleagues. In fact, this guy met Bill in person before I did, and made sure to tell me that Bill isn’t a psychopath. He may be a major reason why Bill and I met and got married. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes he doesn’t deserve to be told to “stifle it”.

My aunt’s brother– I’ll call him Roscoe– used to be a social media contact. He had a bad habit of chastising me for swearing on my Facebook page. He’d leave comments like “quit it” when I’d use the f-bomb or a similarly taboo word. He’d remind me that swearing isn’t “ladylike”. I usually ignored him or left him a gentle rebuke. But three years ago, I finally had enough. When he, yet again, gave me a hard time for using the word “fuck” on my page, I wrote this response:

If it bothers you, you can always hit the fucking unfriend button. Spare yourself and me a lot of fucking grief. I am 45 years old and I will cuss if I fucking want to. Got it? 

A lot of people thought that was a funny comment. I suppose it was pretty funny. But I was being deadly serious when I wrote it. At some point, it’s got to be okay to be who you are. I spent most of my youth feeling like who I was wasn’t okay. It was a message I got from supposed “loved ones” and “friends” who weren’t really friends. I spent a lot of time in therapy and on antidepressants, and I experienced an awakening in my late 20s, realizing that despite using the occasional curse word, I’m really not a bad person. That was a freeing realization, even though a lot of people have missed the memo.

In 2017, I wrote about this incident on my original blog. My original post was pretty good, and explains some of the context of how it happened that I finally needed to explicitly tell my aunt’s brother to STFU.

What happened was, the day prior, Bill and I had a minor argument. It was triggered by an insult I had received on Facebook from a man. I teased Bill for not fighting for my honor. I truly was teasing him. Bill is a bit of a white knight, and I thought it was funny that he wasn’t sticking up for me. It was a joke– because as we both know, in most situations, I don’t need anyone to fight my battles for me. Certainly not on Facebook.

But that gently ribbing comment triggered Bill, whose ex wife used to torment him by telling him about how he didn’t measure up and never “fought” for her. She even went to the point of ruining songs and children’s books by using them as object lessons as to how Bill should behave. It was very insulting to him, especially since he was not the one who was abusive in their relationship.

He got really upset with me. I could see it on his face. For an instant, he looked angry enough to lash out physically, although he didn’t. We had a serious discussion, then made up. Then, the next day, we went to a nude spa and hung out with a bunch of Germans who were also naked. I was relaxed and happy and posted about how being nude with Germans put me in a good frame of mind.

The same guy who had insulted me the day prior and triggered the fight between Bill and me, came back and insulted me again. That time, I posted this:

“What the hell is wrong with you?  Why are you picking on me?  Kindly fuck the hell off, if you can’t be nice.”

The insulter then deleted his comment, but not before the language cop, my aunt’s brother, saw it. He decided to give me some shit for swearing.

Bad words are a dead end. No place on FB.

There I was… in a pretty good mood and posting about it. For that, I first get insulted by a “friend”; then when I confront said friend, I get chastised by a “loved one” for cussing. And I’m in my mid 40s (circa 2017– I’m even OLDER now)! At what point is it okay for me to decide for myself how I will communicate? At what point do people recognize that I can make these kinds of choices and deal with the consequences for myself? I mean, I haven’t lived with my family of origin in decades, but some of them act as if I still need parental guidance.

That’s why I decided to tell “Roscoe” to pound sand. However, I still felt a bit guilty about it. I was raised not to swear, so I feel funny about doing it, even though I do it all the time. I guess it’s a form of rebellion for me. This was his unedited follow up comment:

Why cuss words? A valid issue or concern can do without. Get mad, threatek NJ mm w u atbis by th r poin5 Il)

“Roscoe” responded in a disappointing way. He was very patronizing and non-sensical. So I left another response:

I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to say here, but I would appreciate it if you would let me be me. I’m not a bad person, nor am I stupid or in need of special guidance from my elders. I promise you that when I need to be articulate, I can be articulate. I don’t even have to use what you refer to as “bad words”. But I choose to swear sometimes and that is my right as a grown ass American. If it offends you, there are steps you can take to spare yourself the injury. I, for one, will fucking cuss as much and whenever I want to… especially on Facebook. Good night.

It wasn’t long after that incident that I kicked “Roscoe” off of my page for the same kind of behavior. On more than one occasion, he lectured me about everything from the language I used to my political leanings. “Roscoe” is a devoted Trump supporter and I, of course, am not. And he wasn’t even really my relative– except by marriage. After that, I started kicking other supposed loved ones off of my page. Although it’s sad to me that I don’t have many relatives who are “friends”, I have found that I am a lot happier when I communicate with people who realize that I’m an adult who doesn’t need anyone lecturing or shaming me about the language I use or most anything else.

Not everyone likes me, but one thing I have heard from more than one person is that I am not “fake”. What you see is mainly what you get. For most of my life, I’ve gotten the message from people close to me that who I am is not okay. Now that I’m older, I realize that’s simply not true. And anyone who tries to shame me, when I know for a fact that their shaming isn’t valid, can just fuck off. If the worst you can say about me is that I use “bad words”, I figure I’m doing alright.

One complaint some people have had about me is that sometimes I vent in my blog. Sometimes people read what I write in my blog and feel that I’m “unfair”. Sometimes, people read rants I’ve written about them or someone they know and then try to shame me into shutting up. It’s really simple, though. If you don’t want that kind of feedback from me, you can simply treat me with basic respect or just leave me alone. I’ll do the same, and you won’t be on the receiving end of a rant. With the exception of certain politicians or celebrities, I don’t write these things unless I am provoked.

Don’t treat middle aged people like children. Don’t tell them they don’t have the right to their thoughts, feelings, experiences, or freedom of expression. Don’t be disrespectful to people if you don’t want them to be disrespectful to you. Don’t read things you don’t want to read. Don’t blame other people for things that are your responsibility. As I wrote in 2017,

I have learned that I am who I am, and it’s a lot easier to be that person than to try to be someone I’m not.  I will never be the genteel, sweet, refined Southern lady my dad apparently hoped I would be.  I will never be tiny, demure, super feminine or ladylike.  There was a time when I really suffered because I wanted to be those things… I was pressured to be those things by my father and, to a lesser extent, my mother.  To her credit, my mom has mellowed out a lot.  I think it helps that she’s seen that Bill and I are happy and being who I am hasn’t hurt me.  In fact, a lot of people seem to enjoy who I am.  The ones who don’t probably aren’t worth the effort anyway. 

Trying to be someone I’m not eventually led to depression and anxiety, along with years of flirtation with eating disorders.  It took years for me to move beyond those crippling and very damaging feelings of low self-worth.  I don’t want to go back to those days.  In fact, I refuse to do it. 

I’m 45 (now 48) years old and and I am who I am.  Who I am is not a bad person.  Take it or leave it.  And if you don’t like my use of the occasional four letter word, kindly fuck off and leave me alone. 

I’m sorry for yet another rerun, but I think this is a message that bears repeating. Some people out there in Internetland need to read it, either because people are discounting and disapproving of them, or they are doing the discounting and disapproving.

It’s just so easy. Above all, you live your life. I’ll live mine. You drive your car. I’ll drive mine. Simple… and if I want to curse, Goddammit, I’m going to curse.

And I don’t need protection from “bad words”, either.

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condescending twatbags

Feel better, Papa Smurf junior?

Do you ever run into Internet crusaders who feel it’s their duty to shame other people for the things they post? I do. For some reason, I have an uncanny knack for attracting overbearing older men who feel perfectly fine giving me shit for being irreverent. On my old blog, I used to post a lot about “Papa Smurf”, a guy I met on Epinions.com. I used to think he was nice enough, but then we became Facebook friends and I became the subject of his fondness for preaching. I finally got rid of him after I endured one too many Catholic tinged “daddy” lectures from him about being “inappropriate”, “irresponsible”, “hateful”, or “rude”. I believe my last two words to Papa Smurf were “fuck off”.

Tonight, as I sit here digesting the chemical laden Kraft Macaroni & Cheese I had for dinner, I am also ruminating on an encounter I had with some guy named Mike who follows Janis Ian’s Facebook page. Earlier today, she posted this. It made me laugh, and my immediate reaction was to post a comment…

I swear I’m not a violent person… although sometimes I say violent things.
Thanks for keeping me straight, Mike. I need guys like you around to keep me in check.

Now… keep in mind, I am certainly not the only one who responded to that photo, nor am I the only one who suggested a hammer. However, I noticed Mike didn’t comment on the first person’s “hammer” comment. That person was evidently a man and he wrote “Hammer time!” complete with a hammer emoji. Here I am a grey/blonde woman with blue eyes and I get Papa Smurf junior, a complete stranger, chastising me for expressing myself in a way he feels is “inappropriate”.

I will admit, there have been a couple of times when I have responded with mock outrage when people have celebrated depictions of violence. Like, for instance, I once annoyed some people on Cake Wrecks because they posted a picture of a wedding/divorce cake with a bride and groom cake topper, and the bride was holding the groom’s severed head as strawberry sauce flowed, simulating blood. My comment was that if the groom was holding the bride’s severed head, people probably wouldn’t find it so funny. For that, someone told me I should “rent a sense of humor”. Boy, if she only knew! It’s not so often people accuse me of being humorless. I’ve been accused of a lot of things, but lacking a sense of humor is definitely not one of them.

It was not so much that the wedding/divorce cake offended me as much as I just don’t like double standards. I doubt people would be amused at the sight of a divorce cake photo showing a groom cake topper holding a bride’s severed head. And really, if you think about it, it is kind of a gruesome and disturbing image… although perhaps it’s understandable, under some circumstances. If you’re having a party with your besties and your ex husband was truly a bastard, maybe it is appropriate to have a cake topper flowing simulated blood from a headless groom. I don’t know. My comment was just an immediate reaction. I had a feeling people would think I was being “overly sensitive”. Perhaps I was.

But maybe Mike has a point. Maybe I shouldn’t have blurted out, off the cuff, that someone should bash the slut shaming person in Janis Ian’s post over the head with a hammer. I guess I posted that because it’s frustrating to read and hear shaming and victim blaming comments from other people. In Trump’s era, it’s getting worse and worse, even though Trump is himself a crass, vile, disgusting pervert who grabs women by the pussy. Mike reminds me that people are watching and reading and some feel fine about correcting others– perfect strangers, even. He thinks I’m “hateful”. Ironically, if I’m feeling hateful, it’s not toward the person in Ian’s post. It’s toward condescending assholes like Mike. I know… one of many issues I need to work on.

Mike’s comment really annoyed me. It still does, mainly because I didn’t see him leaving chastising comments for other people. I have a feeling that if I were a guy, he wouldn’t have said anything. I note that he’s a pretty old dude… graduated college the year before I was born… and figures I need schoolin’. Why do I keep running into these people, and what can I do to discourage them from communicating with me? I would have happily told Mike to “fuck off”, but I know Janis Ian doesn’t like swearing on her page. I respect Janis Ian more than I do Mike, who seems to have a “Papa Smurf” complex.

I don’t often comment on things, mainly because of people like Mike… and other people who feel it’s okay to PM me with hate mail inviting me to “go die”. It’s almost always men who do this. It’s like they can’t stand it when a woman posts something “offensive” to their senses. I want to ask him if it makes him feel better to shame other people. And then I would like to tell him to fuck off. But, because I’m a “lady” and not actually that hateful, I usually refrain… the first time, anyway.

Edited to add: This morning, I saw that I got responses from Mike and Janis Ian herself. I decided not to read them, because it’s just too early in the day and it’s likely they would only annoy me and cause me to blog again. Instead, I’m going to write about something else. Sometimes, I think we should all practice the art of scrolling by… Stay tuned.

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