communication, Duggars, mental health, psychology, Reality TV, religion, social media, true crime

We need to be able to rationally discuss difficult topics…

*Trigger warning* Today’s post is on a sensitive subject that may be offensive to some readers. I’m tackling Josh Duggar and his abuse, as well as that topic in general, but I’m doing so in a way that I hope is objective and rational. Please proceed with caution or skip this post if you think this topic might be too triggering. If you choose to comment, please be civil.

Two days ago, I finished reading Jill Duggar’s book, Counting the Cost. I wrote a review of the book, which you can find by clicking here. I only shared my link on my own personal Facebook page, but I am a member of the Duggar Family News page and group on Facebook. Other people are now reading and/or listening to the book, and they are offering their opinions. This morning, I happened to read a comment by a woman who is now listening to the audio version of the book. She wrote:

So I’m listening to the book… And I’m at the part where the letter is found about Josh… First she talks about being on Oprah, which they weren’t because Oprah got word of what was going on with Josh. Second it seems like she was also angry about information getting out…. Here’s the deal I understand she was a victim… And I worked with a victims of molestation for over 34 years.. But it seems like she is blaming everyone but her parents for what happened with Josh… Maybe later in the book she changes her tune… But I’m finding it really irritating and wishy-washy.

To me, this comment, while kind of negative, was basically the poster’s genuine reaction to the book so far. Maybe it was her use of the phrase “here’s the deal”, that set off some people, but I noticed that some folks immediately jumped on the woman’s case for what she wrote. The first comment I noticed was this:

I haven’t read the book, but I think it’s not up to us to judge victims of sexual abuse for how they process it and whom they blame for it.

At this point, the above comment has 94 likes. When I first read it about an hour ago, it had 89 likes. People think it’s a good rebuttal. I guess I can understand why people like the comment. It seems very patient, victim edifying, and kind, while the original comment seems a little “judgey” and critical.

Personally, I am a little troubled by the rebuttal to the original comment, because there’s an element of shame to it. It’s basically a subtle suggestion to the original poster that she should just “shut up” and stop “victim blaming”. It’s as if the person who responded to the original poster thinks Jill Duggar will be reading her comment and feeling hurt by it. Maybe she will read it, though I doubt it. I’m sure Jill is feeling kind of overwhelmed right now, even though the response to her book by the public has been largely positive. Her family may be really angry with her right now, and their opinions will mean a lot more than some random person’s in a Facebook group.

If we assume Jill Duggar won’t be reading the critical, but honest, comment about how the reader thinks she was “wishy-washy”, maybe we can be more objective about the original poster’s opinion. While it didn’t occur to me that Jill was “wishy-washy” in her explanation about how she was victimized by her brother, Josh, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that someone else had a different take and dared to express it. I support allowing people to express their opinions without automatically being attacked or shamed for sharing their views. Maybe if people shamed and knee-jerk reacted less, more people would be willing to ask for help when they really need it.

Someone else wrote this– it came across as kind of angry, shaming, and judgmental to me, compounding the issue. Shouldn’t we encourage people to share their opinions, insights, and impressions?

As someone who ” worked with victims ” for 34yrs I’d like to think you would have more understanding and empathy.

No 1 victim processes nor deals with what has happened to them in the same way. Every single person eho has ever experienced this kind of trauma has every right to FEEL and PROCESS hiw they like.

Your statement is extremely ignorant considering the yrs of expertise you should have.

The discussion continued…

Jeez, it was just an observation. Why can’t people take a deep breath before popping off at strangers for simply commenting? This hostile response just shuts down communication and the sharing of ideas. Why are people so threatened?

The Duggar children were raised in a home where they weren’t allowed to dance because dancing might arouse sinful thoughts in other people. Jill wrote extensively about how the girls were all expected to dress modestly, so the boys wouldn’t be tempted by them. Jill’s mother, Michelle Duggar, told her daughters that she used to dress inappropriately “before she became a Christian” and that led men to think sinful thoughts. When she changed her “sinful” ways and started dressing more modestly, she became a “better” person by not causing men to “fall” into sin.

Jim Bob and Michelle made their daughters responsible for half the population’s thoughts and actions by telling them that they had to think of the men when they got dressed in the morning and in literally every move they made. They attached shame to their daughters simply for being who they are (beautiful, young females), giving them a duty to always have to think about the lustful thoughts of males. What a burden to put on their daughters and every other woman!

Jill further explained that her mother used certain kinds of music– mostly classical or religious– to train her children. When they didn’t do the right things, she would turn off the music, and the joy would stop. They learned to curb the natural desire to dance– move rhythmically to music– which is a source of great joy to many people and an art form. And yet, in spite of the fact that dancing was banned in their home, four of the Duggar sisters (that we know of) were still victimized by their brother, Josh. Josh went on to view illegal material on the Internet, cheated on his wife, and was accused of having very rough sexual relations with a sex worker.

Meanwhile, Josh was “punished” by having his head shaved in front of people in his community and being sent away to do manual labor for a family friend. Later, he got a stern “talking to” by former Arkansas State Trooper, Joseph Hutchens, a (presumably) former friend of the family’s. Hutchens is now himself in prison for sex crimes, having been sentenced to 56 years for child pornography charges.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did NOTHING to help Josh with his obvious problem. They did NOTHING to help Jill or her sisters deal with the trauma of what happened to them. I think the commenter has a point– Jill does hold Jim Bob responsible for the financial abuse he perpetrated toward Jill and her siblings, but she doesn’t seem to realize that her parents failed her and her siblings in their responsibilities to protect their children from their oldest brother.

Indeed, although reportedly Josh told his parents about his problem in 2002, when he was still about 14 years old and legally a child, his parents responded by having MORE children. Several of their youngest children are girls. Instead of dealing with Josh– trying to find him appropriate treatment and minimizing the risks toward their other children (and not making more victims)– the Duggar parents simply made more rules for everyone else to follow. The whole thing was swept under the rug, and the abuse continued– seemingly under the radar. Then, Jim Bob put his whole family on display for the world to see. Frankly, I’m shocked that the news about Josh’s abuse wasn’t made public long before 2015.

When I was earning my MSW, I had a professor who had done a lot of work with domestic abusers and sex offenders. He was very matter-of-fact as he talked to us about the clinical work he did before he became a professor. I remember him telling us that in a clinical situation, we must never react with shock or revulsion when someone talks about distasteful subjects. As therapists, it would be our job to listen objectively to those who came to us for help.

The professor explained that sexual preferences are hard wired. Those drives are very powerful and difficult to fight against– like eating, drinking, or sleeping. So, we must realize and understand that while it’s illegal and extremely damaging for people like Josh to act on their impulses, they truly can’t help themselves for having those urges. If we were to work with sex offenders or domestic abusers, it would be up to us to try to help them find ways not to be abusive. The first step in helping people with that problem is to not automatically be repulsed by them. That is how trust and rapport builds, and people can then feel comfortable enough to talk about their problems. That is how problems can possibly be solved.

To be very honest, at this point in time, I don’t think we have very many effective avenues of real help to offer people like Josh. Part of the reason why we don’t have more ways to help sex offenders is because people don’t want to talk about the problem. Instead of trying to understand where the deviance comes from and address it, we attack, revile, and shame the people who have these feelings. So they continue to suffer in silence until they finally decide to hurt someone.

Most people– if you ask them what should be done with a sex offender like Josh– won’t even think twice about it. They’ll say the person should be taken out and shot, or exiled to prison, or something extreme like that. It doesn’t occur to them that no one really wants to have these dark urges. It must be a terrible way to go through life, actually– having these highly taboo obsessions and not being able to act on them without great risk– maybe like having an intense itch that can’t be scratched. Complicating matters is that there are very few people who can be trusted to give them real help. If you are someone who has these obsessions, you can’t just go to just anyone and tell them that you have the obsessions without risking your freedom, your safety, or even your life. So there’s no real help available, and the person is left to try to deal with those thoughts and feelings in secret. Some of them are successful. Some commit suicide. A lot of others end up victimizing innocent people.

A lot of people also assume that they will never be personally affected by this issue. When they glibly suggest that someone ought to be taken out and shot for being a pedophile, it doesn’t occur to them that perhaps one of their loved ones or friends struggle with this problem. That’s because the vast majority of people would never talk about it with someone else. Another poster shared this thought, which I thought was very astute (bolded emphasis is mine– I’m sure someone whose child is a sex offender wouldn’t necessarily want to see them taken out and shot):

I am wondering if Jill just didn’t want to blame her parents. After all, they gave her such a “wonderful childhood” and she loved them with all of her heart. It’s easier to blame people that don’t really matter in your life, and aren’t immediate family.

As Bill and I were discussing this issue today, I was reminded of a professor I read about who had worked at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Virginia. The professor, whose name is Allyn Walker, is non-binary and uses the pronouns “they” and “them”. Walker was teaching sociology and criminal justice at ODU, and researching minor-attracted people (MAPs). They wrote a book titled Long Dark Shadow, which is about so-called minor-attracted people. Walker faced huge backlash due to their research of this topic. People at ODU were offended by the work Walker was doing, accusing them of “normalizing” pedophilia. I suspect the vast majority of people who had issues with Walker’s work knew very little about it and hadn’t been able to bring themselves to think about the topic rationally. Ditto to the reviews on Amazon about this book. I’ll bet a lot of the people who left one star reviews never bothered to read the book.

Walker’s work is about pointing out that not everyone with inappropriate thoughts commits crimes. It’s not a crime to think “bad” thoughts. It’s a crime to act illegally on those thoughts. Moreover, putting it on everyone else to avoid dancing, dressing “immodestly”, or otherwise behaving in ways that might cause other people to sin is not effective. We can see that by simply looking at what happened in the Duggar home. Worse, the girls were blamed for Josh’s sins, and “rewarded” with even more rules and restrictions.

Walker is providing a potential place for people with this problem to seek effective help and increase understanding of it so that fewer people are abused. Ultimately, their goal is an extremely valuable one for all of humankind. But instead of realizing that this is a problem that needs to be solved, people were reacting emotionally, judgmentally, and extremely negatively to Walker’s work and the book they wrote. They weren’t taking a moment to consider that being able to treat pedophilia safely and effectively is a good and valuable thing. It would be a good thing to be able to keep people out of prison, stop them from feeling like they should commit suicide, prevent them from hurting innocent children, and help them be productive members of society. As a result, Walker left ODU and is now at Johns Hopkins University. Ultimately, they may be better off– Johns Hopkins is certainly a more prestigious university than ODU is. But what about the criminal justice and sociology students at ODU? Are they better off that Walker left their campus?

Imagine what might have happened if, instead of sending Josh Duggar to dig a pond, humiliating him in front of the community, and shaving his head, Jim Bob and Michelle could have sent him to skilled and highly qualified people who could have helped him try to master and effectively control those dark obsessions and impulses. Imagine if, instead of acting like the abuse had never happened, Jim Bob and Michelle confronted it, and got help for the children who were victimized by their brother. Wouldn’t it be better for the entire Duggar family if Josh and his sisters could have gotten real help for this problem? How about Josh’s wife, Anna, and their seven children? What will it be like for Josh’s children when they decide they want to get married? Especially his sons!

We, as a society, need to be able to talk about these tough subjects. But we need to be able to do so without shaming people who bring up views that aren’t necessarily mainstream. I, for one, commend Allyn Walker for doing the work they’re doing. We’ve got to do better than just sweeping this problem under the rug. Automatically condemning people for simply having inappropriate obsessions and speaking up about them doesn’t solve the problem. Those people need real help, before they turn into someone like Josh Duggar… who, I think, is exactly where he ought to be right now. In her book, Jill wrote that when Josh first came to Jim Bob and Michelle, he was very tearful and remorseful. She said that he’d apologized to her many times. By the time he was facing a federal judge for his crimes, Josh was acting like the whole thing was no big deal and his crimes were no more significant than a parking violation! He’s become callous and cruel, and he will never be safe to walk the streets as a free man.

Wouldn’t it have been so much better for everyone if Josh could have been helped by someone qualified when he was still a child? I think so. And I agree with the original poster who inspired this post that Jim Bob and Michelle certainly share in the responsibility for what happened to their children… and what is now happening to their reputation. Perhaps Jill isn’t yet ready to face that fact, and I agree that we shouldn’t judge her for that. I’m sure she has a lot of processing to continue to do, and it will be ongoing for the rest of her life. But the original poster also wasn’t wrong to express her opinions or her observations about Jill’s book.

I wish more people would stop being so intent on correcting other people’s opinions and impressions. We all have different takes on things, and being willing to hear other voices and rationally discuss other perspectives is one of the best ways to learn about and expand our understanding of all things… even if we ultimately don’t agree with the other person’s viewpoint.

Please note, however– this does NOT mean that I think we have to argue until the argument is somehow “won” by a particular side. In this world, there are a lot of things that don’t have a “right” or “wrong” answer. Sometimes agreeing to disagree is good, too.

I am considering reading Dr. Walker’s book. I may or may not review it, if I do decide to read it. I simply think Dr. Walker’s work is brave and important, and it needs further discussion by people who are willing to set aside their emotions and communicate rationally and objectively. I’m not sure if my blog is the right forum for that… but I do think Dr. Walker’s book should be given a fair chance.

Standard
communication, condescending twatbags, first world problems, social media, stupid people

“You better tell that girl to shut up…”

Back in the early 1990s, I was a college student who worked at the campus radio station. In the beginning, I loved being a deejay. I was pretty good at it, as I have a voice that sounds good over a microphone. I used to make commercials for my parents’ business and announce at horse shows, so it was only natural that I would enjoy being a disc jockey at the campus radio station. Another reason I liked being a deejay was that I would get exposed to music I wouldn’t ordinarily hear on my own. One band I was introduced to in those days was called Transvision Vamp.

The alternative band, which hailed from Merry Olde England in the 1980s, is now defunct. But they had one funny number that I still enjoy listening to called “Tell That Girl to Shut Up”. The song was a hit in 1988, when I was in high school, but I became familiar with it when I was a Longwood (College) University student in the early 90s. And I’m thinking of that song this morning as I think about something that happened last night. Some of you who read this are going to think it’s ridiculous that I’m writing about this topic today, but it’s Friday, and I’m not quite ready to review Jill Duggar Dillard’s new book. So here goes…

Yeah, you tell her… STFU.

Below are the lyrics to “Tell That Girl to Shut Up”:

Well you got that girl and she lives with you
And she does just want you want her to
And when I call you on the phone, she says you’re not there
But I know you’re home-

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Well we used to be the best of friends
Now all that’s gonna have to end
But there’s just one thing that I can’t see
How she’s got got you hanging up on me

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Well I guess you’re like that all of the time
But it takes more than that for me to lose my mind
Don’t you know that I don’t care?
Maybe if I hit her, maybe if I pulled her hair
Oh oh hey yey yeah

Well, she likes to seem intellectual
And to be a musician she goes to school
And the way she acts is so uncool
I just can’t stand her

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Ooh you better tell, yeah you better tell, oh
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl

Girl, girl, girl, girl, girl, girl

You better tell that girl to shut up
You better tell that girl I’m gonna beat her up
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl
You better tell that girl to shut up!

This is a really catchy song written by Holly Vincent, and it captures the mood sometimes. Mind you, I don’t condone violence, nor would I ever beat someone up, unless they somehow provoked me into physically defending myself. But sometimes the urge is there to just slap the taste out of someone’s mouth, because they are deliberately being an asshole, and trying to stir up shit, when all you want to do is just be in the world.

Such was the case last night, as Bill was having an online session with his Jungian therapist. I was sitting alone at the kitchen table looking at Facebook. I had meant to be reading Jill Duggar’s book, but just never got around to it. I happened across a post by Bitchy Waiter.

Granted, no question has been asked, as there is no question mark.

I don’t often post comments on Bitchy Waiter’s page, or any other page, for that matter. Far too often, I’ve run into rude cretins who just want to start trouble with strangers. But last night, I did choose to comment. This is what I wrote.

I preferred food service because it paid better. Also, I had better bosses.

Nothing wrong with that comment, right? It’s actually pretty boring. I wouldn’t have expected it to attract a rude comment, but hey– it’s Facebook– and confrontational jerks abound there. Someone named Pattie tagged me and wrote something along the lines of “That wasn’t the question.”

I gave Pattie an orange anger emoji and wrote, “Shut up!”

Maybe I should have just posted this video.

I had a feeling she’d come back, even though I think I was clear that I wasn’t interested in engaging with her. Sure enough, she didn’t disappoint. She came back and wrote something along the lines of, “Shut up? How old are you?”

I blocked her, because there were just too many answers I could have given that would have turned our conversation into a huge spectacle. For instance, I could have told Pattie to “go fry herself.” Or maybe she should “go flame broil herself.” Or maybe she should go be an all beef pattie somewhere else, with someone who has a grill big enough to accommodate her. I wasn’t in the mood to flame her ground up standard cuts into taco filling.

Pattie just wanted to pick a fight with someone, and she’d decided to try it with me. It takes two people to fight, though, and I wasn’t interested in giving her narcissistic fuel supply or wasting energy on an online confrontation with her, especially since I’d been drinking. So I hit the block button and ended the pain. But I was left wondering if this was really what she wanted. Was it Pattie’s goal to be blocked by me?

Then I was left with more questions. Does Pattie work as a server? Did she ever? Is being confrontational how she interacts with her tables? With people she meets on the street? With her friends and family? They say something innocuous, and she comes back with a confrontation or an insult? Why do people feel the need to be so rude and hostile to people they don’t even know? Pattie and I have at least one thing in common, and that is the fact that we both follow Bitchy Waiter. Why is that an invitation to be rude to me? There was nothing about my comment that called for her to address me in the way she did. She very quickly showed me that I don’t want to talk to her, hence why I advised her to shut up.

I’ve actually been thinking about unfollowing Bitchy Waiter, though, because I feel like I’ve outgrown the bitterness I’ve had after the experience of waiting tables. I also get tired of reading constant demands for people to tip their servers ever increasing amounts. I think restaurant owners should pay their staff appropriately, since they are the people who ultimately hire the servers. Customers who wish to tip should certainly do so… or not… since tips usually aren’t mandatory.

If the owners were paying their staff, it would mean that the staff is definitely compensated for their hard work, instead of relying on the kindness and generosity/guilt complexes of strangers. And maybe people could enjoy an evening out without constantly being pressured to order more than they want or need. Dining out in America is a stressful experience, mainly because servers are pressured to get people in and out as quickly as possible, with a bill that is as high as possible, so the tip is as high as possible. I like how it’s done in Europe, where people get paid appropriately regardless, have adequate time off, and are grateful when someone tips them.

That’s just my opinion about tipping, even though I’ve worked in the industry and completely understand why the system is the way it is. It doesn’t mean I need someone to explain why I must tip, nor do I need a primer on how things work, or a hostile lecture about why I’m “wrong” about the practice of tipping. This is just my view, and it’s not been formed in ignorance, nor is it up for debate. Opinions aren’t facts, so they have to be taken with a grain of salt. I know my view isn’t popular, but it’s how I feel.

That being said, of course I tip properly and generously, especially when I’m in the United States. I know that most servers don’t really get paid anything but tips. But I still think the system sucks. I don’t want to argue about it, because I’ve thought about it long enough to know how I feel and why I feel that way. If someday, I get new and compelling information about why tipping is better than employers actually paying their staff, I may change my mind.

Because I don’t want to argue about subjects like the importance of tipping, I don’t often comment on Bitchy Waiter’s page. I find him entertaining, and I think he’s got multiple talents. He’s worth paying attention to sometimes. That’s why I follow him. But I don’t agree with constantly pressuring people to tip more and more, so I don’t engage too often with him. When I do comment, I try to keep my comments banal.

Last night’s comment was pretty boring; so why did it attract Pattie? I don’t know. When I saw Pattie’s confrontation, my actual first instinct was to tell her to “shut the fuck up”. But, instead of posting that the f-bomb, I simply wrote the marginally more polite “shut up”. Most people know what that means, but I guess Pattie didn’t. It’s basically an invitation to go away, because I don’t owe her a conversation or a defense of my comments. She didn’t accept my invitation to leave me alone, and came back with negativity. So now we won’t be interacting at all. It’s probably no big loss to her. I know it’s no big loss to me.

I do wonder what the hell happened to Pattie to make her think it’s okay to approach people in such a way. Maybe that makes me a late 80s relic. I don’t think today’s people even think about this stuff. Younger people have apparently skipped the part of home training that includes basic manners and engaging people with respect and dignity. However, I also realize that I’m becoming a crotchety old hag with no patience. I’ll own that, as I tell that girl to shut up…

The older I get, the less patience I have for people like Pattie… total strangers on social media who, for whatever reason, feel the need to be egregiously aggressive and rude to people they don’t know. I wouldn’t tolerate it offline; so I don’t tolerate it online.

I’ll bet Pattie is pretty cheesy, too…

May deformed all beef Pattie be turned into Wendy’s chili meat.

Standard
condescending twatbags, controversies, rants, social media, stupid people, true crime, wingnuts

9/11 conspiracy theorists need to “zip it”…

The featured photo is a screenshot of the Facebook post in the Exploring Virginia group that inspired today’s rant.

As you probably know, yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of September 11th, or “9/11”. That was the horrifying day in 2001 when terrorists attacked the United States using airplanes. Every year, people remember where they were and what they were doing on that dark day in US history. And every year, certain people crawl out from under their rocks and post conspiracy theories about why 9/11 is an elaborate hoax.

Because I am the wife of someone who was actually in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, I don’t believe the conspiracy theorists. I think their “theories” are 100 percent bullshit. Moreover, I think posting their contemptuous lies, especially on the anniversary of that act of terrorism, is incredibly offensive and distasteful… especially to those who were there to see the horrors of it firsthand.

My husband was in one of the innermost rings of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He was there to do his job as a U.S. Soldier, something he was very proud to do for about 30 years of his life, on active duty, as a reservist, and later as a full-time member of the National Guard. He was there to see people who were injured or killed by the jetliner that crashed into his workplace. He heard the screams, the alarms, and cries of people as they rushed out of the building. He later heard the silence when the airports shut down, the metros stopped running, and people were stunned into quiet. He smelled the burning fuel, the destroyed and burned building materials, burning flesh, and spilled blood.

After September 11, 2001, my husband was there to help take care of grieving families who lost their loved ones forever. In his case, it was a family whose beloved matriarch was killed while she was working as a civilian in the Pentagon. He was there to help her family when they all came to Washington, DC for a memorial service to honor the many dead, just from the Pentagon strike. He saw their tears and anguished as they realized that their family member was killed by strangers from faraway lands just for being at work. And those people who carried out their suicide mission also took a couple hundred innocent passengers and crew members with them as they crashed that airplane into the Pentagon.

Yesterday, someone in the Exploring Virginia Facebook group posted a photo of the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial. I haven’t seen it in person myself, because we left the Northern Virginia area years ago. The post, which was meant to be respectful and reverent, quickly turned into an epic shitstorm as a couple of conspiracy theorists started posting antagonistic comments about how 9/11 was all a hoax and we’d all been “lied to” by the U.S. government. Before I blocked the offenders, I noticed that one of them wrote that it was really a scud missile that hit the Pentagon, not a plane full of people. I’d love to know where that idiot thinks all of those people on the airplane went if they weren’t on the aircraft. Are they all in the witness protection program, living in Roswell, New Mexico? Perhaps the Bermuda Triangle?

This morning, I see an admin in that group had to turn off commenting. I’m sure it was because of the insensitive assholes who felt the need to push their conspiracy theorist bullshit on a day when so many people are still grieving. A few people did take on the conspiracy theorists. One person even outright stated that she felt it was in very poor taste to be pushing that agenda when so many people are still mourning lost loved ones. There are still people whose friends and family members vanished without a trace. They didn’t even have anything left to bury! Even in 2023, 22 years after that day, they’re still identifying the DNA left in the remains. Two more victims were identified just a few days ago; they were the first since 2021. 9/11/01 was just an indescribably terrible day, and for some people, the horror is still evolving.

Yesterday, Bill came home and told me that, for the first time, he’d seen a video of that day. He said he’d wished he’d never seen it, because it showed a man who jumped from one of the World Trade Center’s towers. The man must have realized he had a choice of waiting to die from the fire, smoke inhalation, or the building’s inevitable collapse, or simply jumping from the building and ending it right then and there. He chose to jump. Can you even imagine the absolute horror of that situation? He must have been terrified! And imagine how this man’s family members and friends feel, knowing that’s how he went out of this world!

I realize that not everyone believes the official story about September 11, 2001. I also know all too well that you can’t argue with people who have stubbornly made up their minds. I just wish these folks would give their conspiracy theories a rest on the anniversary. There are 364-365 other days per year to push nonsense conspiracy theories. September 11th should be a day when Americans come together and mourn the people who died on that day, or on a later day, due to illnesses or injuries stemming from that day… or those whose lives were permanently changed for the worse because of that day.

Conspiracy theorists need to “zip it”, but especially on the anniversary of September 11, 2001. Have some respect for those who really lost something on that day… there were so many of them! And I’ll bet not a single one of the people who experienced such profound losses gives a single shit about the preposterous theories some of these tin foil hat wearing morons are pushing. The theories they push don’t change anything. All they do is frustrate, annoy, and anger people who have already been through enough because of that day. Give it a rest, please. For America.

Standard
animals, celebrities, complaints, condescending twatbags, social media

Wow! Who knew commenting on Facebook required sharing my resume?

The featured photo was taken in September 1988, right after my beloved Appaloosa pony, Rusty (Diamonds n’ Rust) and I won first place at the State 4H horse show in Richmond, Virginia. There were about seventy other ponies in that class. It was a great morning and a highly unexpected surprise to win first. Rusty bucked, but I guess the judge never saw it happen.

If you follow my blog, you probably know that I have a tendency to overshare sometimes. I often feel compelled to share the whole story, even if it’s not necessarily interesting or wise to do so. We all have lessons we could learn. I know I could use a few lessons in brevity. However, even someone who overshares, like I tend to do sometimes, can be surprised by other people’s expectations on social media platforms.

Before I get started, I will issue a half-hearted apology for the fact that my writing this week has been so much about stupid Facebook dramas. The good news is, I’m so annoyed by the responses I’ve gotten on recent comments I’ve made, that I now make a conscious effort to comment less. That could mean that I’ll move on to more hard-hitting or entertaining topics. One can only hope!

Anyway… on with today’s gripe.

A couple of days ago, Facebook suggested either a group or a page about Elizabeth Taylor. I honestly don’t know why it was suggested to me. I was never a big Liz Taylor fan. I mean, I certainly thought she was a beautiful woman, and as a horse crazy kid, I appreciated her performance in National Velvet. I do remember seeing her guest star on The Nanny, and I saw her in commercials for her perfumes and such, but I don’t know much about her acting career.

Liz Taylor was a little behind my era, and had done a lot of her most famous acting roles before I was born. I wasn’t into most old movies when I was growing up, aside from the major ones like Gone With The Wind, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. When I was coming along, I heard more about her marriages, alcoholism, and celebrity activism, than anything else.

I think I was more familiar with her son, Michael Wilding Jr.’s, work as an actor. He was on Guiding Light and Dallas, back in the 80s, and I watched both of those shows.

Anyway, for some reason, Facebook suggested this Elizabeth Taylor page to me, along with a post about her love for horses. There was a picture of her, as an adolescent, with a horse– probably the one who starred with her in National Velvet. And there was a quote by her about how she’d learned to jump before making the movie, and had successfully jumped a six foot fence while riding bareback. She allegedly said it made her feel like she was flying.

As someone who literally spent a huge portion of my childhood in a barn, I find that story pretty hard to believe. Is it the truth? Maybe… but I still find it implausible. Not that many horses regularly jump six foot fences. Those that do tend to be very valuable jumpers. And, in all of my years around horses, I’ve never seen nor heard of anyone jumping at that height bareback… at least not on purpose! Could it have happened? I suppose. But I noticed a lot of people agreed with me that the story sounded a bit like bullshit. They were saying so in the comment section.

I added a casual comment to someone’s response, reminding everyone that National Velvet was made in 1944. So if she did try to jump six feet while bareback, it likely would have been extremely dangerous and foolish. She probably didn’t bother wearing a hat (helmet), and even if she did wear one, it was not as safe or effective as the ones that people wear today. If she tried such a stunt and was successful, she was damned lucky… and pretty stupid, in my opinion. But again… it’s just my opinion, and I realize I could be wrong.

“Velvet Brown, who do you think you ARE?”

When I left this comment, I was being totally casual. It was an offhand remark– the online equivalent of small talk. This is a very trivial issue to me, and not something I care to research or verify. Mainly, I was just gratified to see that I wasn’t the only one who was calling bullshit on the story’s veracity.

Naturally, people started tagging me in responses, reminding me that Liz Taylor allegedly started riding when she was three years old, so she wasn’t a “new” rider, as I wrongly assumed, based on what was written in the quote.

Again, Liz Taylor doesn’t really matter to me, so I didn’t look her up to see when her ass first landed on a horse’s back. If she really started riding at age 3, fair enough… although I doubt she was progressing that much in her skills at that age. I wouldn’t expect her to be good enough to be piloting talented jumpers over six foot fences, even if she did start riding at age 3. Certainly not bareback. That’s sheer lunacy to me. My opinion again. It was not something I really wanted to argue about. If it’s true, it’s true. I don’t really care one way or the other.

The evening wore on, and Bill and I went to bed. I spent all day blissfully unaware of that post and, in fact, had completely forgotten about it. Then, at about 5 PM, I got a tag from someone I didn’t know. Not knowing what she was referencing, I clicked to see what was up. And it was some twat who wrote something along the lines of, “Have you ever even been on a horse? Do you know *anything* about horses?” Then there was a long diatribe about how Liz Taylor certainly could have been jumping six foot fences bareback, and a link to some site that I didn’t bother checking. To tell you the truth, I didn’t read beyond her first two sentences, because I found them extremely insulting and irritating, and I was momentarily really pissed.

Weeee! Us again… probably in 1988.

You see, I spent years riding horses. I owned a very special Appaloosa pony for years. I took lessons, cleaned stalls, went to horse shows, showed hunt seat and Western, went on competitive trail rides, attended riding clinics given by fancy Frenchmen, fox hunted, completed 4 H horse projects, and I have a huge box full of over 200 ribbons, plaques, medals and such in storage in Texas. I even won a horse blanket one year. So yes, I do know my way around a horse, even though I gave up riding a long time ago.

Maybe I should have responded to the idiot with just a picture of my ribbons…

I realize this person doesn’t know me at all. I don’t know her at all. My guess, though, is that I was probably riding horses and shoveling manure when she was still a spark in her daddy’s testicles. I also suspect, like a lot of Facebook experts, she moseyed on over to my Facebook page to see if there was any evidence of my “expertise” with horses. When she saw no equine pics on the public version of my account, she wrongly assumed that I don’t have any experience with horses, hence her moronic challenging questions to me– a total stranger.

I was tempted to respond with indignance, but instead, I took a deep breath, and then sighed with a loud groan of utter annoyance. Then I posted something along the lines of this:

Yes, I have experience with horses. I grew up riding and showing my own horse. I still don’t believe this story. If you do, good for you. I really don’t care.

Then, just because I had a feeling it would inspire laughter from those who knew me when I was young, I posted this:

I was gratified when my former riding instructor wrote this…

A time or two?🤣🤣🤣. Try more years than I care to think about! 🙈🙈

I am honestly very indebted to my old riding instructor, because I certainly wasn’t the easiest person to teach… or even just to deal with, especially when I was going through puberty. And she was there to see me in all my moody, hormonal glory! Isn’t it awesome that I still know her as I’m now going through menopause! I’m not quite as moody these days… or, at least I cry less.

It’s because of her that I ever owned a horse of my very own. She taught me so much, and having unlimited access to her farm no doubt kept me out of trouble… and possibly even the psych ward. I had a tendency toward depression in those days (as well as today, but now I have booze).

The fact that I had a horse, and had to work to keep him, kept me productive and active, and helped stave off the darkest moods of depression. I spent hours riding my bike to and from her farm, cleaning the ten stalls in her barn, and doing the many horsey chores required when you have a horse. Even if you aren’t into showing, as I was in those days, there’s a lot of work to be done. I do miss it– and horses– very much. But I think the work might kill me these days. 😀

So yes, when some rando on Facebook asks me if I “know anything” about horses, simply because we disagree about a silly quote allegedly by Elizabeth Taylor– a dead actress I don’t even particularly care about– it does smart a bit. Was she really expecting me to post my horse experience resume on such a random comment between total strangers? Who’s got the time for it?

However, I was also gratified that my fellow horsey friend from those days, another of the many Jennifers born in the 70s, posted this in response to my peevish status update…

Ha! I was doubting that post from Liz too. I’ve never seen anyone do six feet bareback.

Jennifer and I were in 4 H together and enjoyed many a hot Saturday at horse shows when we were growing up in Gloucester, Virginia. She knows her way around horses, too. And anyone who knew me in those days, knows that horses were then my life. It’s almost hard to believe now. Seems like a dream.

I guess this incident can be filed away under yet another reason why Facebook sucks. But then, if it weren’t for Facebook, I couldn’t share a laugh with the people I knew when I was an avid horsewoman. It’s a testament to the specialness of that time that those people are still my friends so many years later.

Whether or not Liz Taylor ever jumped six foot fences while riding a horse bareback isn’t that important, at least not to me. She’s been dead for years, so it’s not like her feelings are going to be hurt if I don’t believe this alleged quote from her about her horseback riding skills. Maybe it is the truth, but I don’t feel like verifying it, one way or the other. Especially now.

Liz’s alleged quote kind of reminds me of that ghastly video of Alan Osmond, when he talked about how he was the best marksman in his Army basic training unit, yet he never saw a single day in Vietnam. Instead, he stayed behind at Fort Ord, where he served as a typist. Now, I absolutely respect Alan for serving in the Army, but I think his claims about his military badassery are probably hyperbolic bullshit. And this quote by Elizabeth Taylor is probably similarly hyperbolic. I base that on my experiences with horses, even as I acknowledge that I’m not an expert and I quit riding some time ago. I never claimed to be an expert. I just know what bullshit smells like.

So no, I don’t feel like qualifying myself with a rundown of my equine experience and expertise, just to be allowed to leave a comment on a random Facebook post about horses. I shouldn’t be expected to do that. I’ve got more important things to do, like manscaping Bill’s chest hair.

On another note… I notice that a lot of horse people really can be insufferable jerks. I don’t miss that.

Standard
communication, family, mental health, narcissists, psychology

Going “no contact” with rude and hostile people…

It’s Thursday! We had quite a lot of severe weather last night. In our area, there was just a big thunderstorm with lots of rain that refilled my rain barrel. However, in our former town of Jettingen, I’ve seen that a lot of people’s cars and windows were damaged by hail.

During our four years of living in Jettingen, I noticed there was more severe weather there in all respects– more snow, more rain and hail, more wind, and yes, hotter days in the summer! Jettingen is at a higher altitude than some other areas. Consequently, it gets some interesting weather. I remember in 2015, we got snow that hung around for weeks after it was long gone from Stuttgart.

In spite of the weather, I did like Jettingen, mainly because it was right next to a beautiful forested nature park. On the other hand, the nature park was full of ticks, and any time we walked through it, we came out with the little bloodsucking pests. I was forever pulling ticks off of our dogs. We also had a landlady who was a bit of a leech, as we found out upon leaving her house. Where we live now, the weather is milder. So is our landlord’s disposition. That’s a good thing, too, since he’s also our neighbor.

Speaking of non-literal “leeches”… I could also use that metaphor for some of the people I run into on Facebook. I’m sure anyone who uses social media has noticed how hostile and rude people are these days. You post a comment– especially one that goes against the status quo– and chances are good someone is going to come at you with negativity. There’s a pervasive “shoot first and ask questions” later attitude on Facebook.

Lately, I’ve been blocking people like crazy, mainly because I’m tired of being confronted with that level of disrespect by strangers. I know some people think blocking people is “cowardly” or “immature”. However, I think being nasty to people you don’t know, simply because you disagree with something they’ve said or written, is also cowardly and immature. If we were in person, I wouldn’t stick around to listen to that shit. I’d walk away. So that’s what I’ve been doing a lot more of on Facebook. I don’t post on Twitter or X or whatever… and I don’t really use Instagram, either. I stick to Facebook and YouTube, and lately I’ve been upping my YouTube consumption, because I mostly find it a more pleasant place to spend my time.

If you read yesterday’s post, you know that yesterday, I read an AITA post on Reddit Ridiculousness that triggered me. I mostly confined my comments about that post to my blog, because it’s a place where I can write everything I want to, and have some control over the responses I get. But, even though there was a little voice in my head telling me not to comment, I didn’t resist leaving a short statement on the post. I basically wrote a much shorter version of what was in yesterday’s blog post. It went against most of the other comments, praising the OP in yesterday’s post and saying he’s “not the asshole” for looking after his mental health by going “no contact”. My verdict was that “everyone sucked”.

The gist of my comment was that if a person wants to go “no contact”, they should stop being in contact with pretty much everyone connected to their target. In my social media post, I specifically wrote that the no contact thing makes “funerals and weddings awkward”. Which it does. Don’t kid yourself thinking your passive aggressive “silent treatment” toward certain family members doesn’t affect everybody else at a family function. It totally does, even if no one says that out loud.

I got several angry comments from people who told me my comment was “rubbish”. I blocked the first two or three people who responded to me in that way, because I figure if they’re automatically hostile because I’ve disrupted their version of reality, they aren’t mature enough to have a discussion. Frankly, I neither have the time nor the crayons to explain this concept to them, and I don’t want to get into a heated online confrontation with a stranger who hasn’t bothered to put on their thinking cap or employ basic civility.

I know sometimes comments on Facebook are very triggering, but most of the time, when I post on social media, I try to take a deep breath first. I wish others would try to do the same. I don’t like getting into contentious arguments with randos.

I’m sure the people who responded to me in anger were triggered because other people, whose opinions they might actually value, have admonished them for “taking care of their mental health” by going no contact with family members. And they feel that no one has the right to deny them their right to go no contact with others. What they really want is to have their cake and eat it, too, and it upsets them when someone has the nerve to suggest to them that “no contact” doesn’t work that way.

Here I am, a total stranger behind a computer screen whom they feel “safe” to attack, having the audacity to write that if you want to go “no contact”, you have to be all in and really commit to it. So attack they do… and I’m sure it temporarily makes them feel better. But I don’t usually respond to their angry comments. Lately, more often than not, I simply block them without any other response. I have the right to express my views, too, and I don’t owe anyone a conversation or an explanation, especially when they tell me my opinions are “rubbish”. If they want an explanation, they can find my blog. 😉

For the record, I have never claimed that people don’t have the right to go “no contact” if that’s what they want to do. What I wrote yesterday is that if you claim to be going “no contact”, but then you hang around with people who are communicating with your “no contact” target, you’re not really going “no contact”.

Going no contact is not just about giving people the silent treatment. Going no contact means just that. You don’t communicate with them at all. Communication isn’t just about talking to people, because not all communication is verbal. So, that means you don’t stalk them on Facebook; you don’t drive by their house; you don’t ask others about them; you don’t talk or think about them at all. And you don’t give other people in their circle of friends and loved ones the opportunity to share information about you to them. To do that effectively, you will probably have to cut off more than the target person.

If you cut off speaking to your father, but you’re still talking to your siblings, and they are still speaking to your dad, there will be communication and, likely, some triangulation. Your name will probably come up. You can’t expect your siblings to honor your desire to keep all of your communications private, especially when they are talking to someone as significant as a parent. You can certainly ask them to do it, but chances are good that, ultimately, they won’t honor your request.

It might even be by accident that they let something slip. See yesterday’s AITA post for proof of that. The OP claimed to go “no contact” with his brother and parents, but he still spoke to his cousin and grandmother. Sure enough, that eventually put him back into contact with his parents and brother, because the parents pressured the cousin to give them his phone number. And I’m sure when Granny died, if the OP went to the funeral, there was communication, even if he didn’t say a single word to his parents or brother. A large percentage of communication is nonverbal. Maybe nonverbal communication is not the mythical 93% that has been claimed for so many years, but it’s a very large percentage.

So, that’s why I wrote that if you want to go “no contact”, you have to go all in and commit to it, which means not talking to other people in the family. If you’re still speaking to family members, and they’re still speaking to your target, you haven’t really gone “no contact”. You’ve gone “low contact”.

Going low contact can also be effective for mental health purposes. Plenty of people who have to co-parent with a narcissist do just that, for the sake of their children– that is, if they’ve been able to arrange a co-parenting scenario. Not everyone can do that in every situation. My husband couldn’t do that with his ex wife; she flatly refused to cooperate, and he lacked the means to legally force her to comply with his requests to share the kids.

But if you’re not speaking to certain people, except to rudely tell them you’re not speaking to them… or you tell someone you obviously know that they have you mixed up with someone else. Yep… that is, indeed, a form of communication. You haven’t actually gone “no contact” with them at all. It’s petty as fuck and really stupid, to boot.

After a few indignant responses from irate people about how my comment was “rubbish”, I decided to respond to the last person who challenged me. I was feeling rested, because I had just taken a nap. And I was tired of being tagged in angry responses by people who were trying to “correct my opinions”.

I calmly explained that it seems to me that the guy in the Reddit article had not actually gone “no contact”, and I included reasons why I believe that. Then I briefly explained why I think anyone really going no contact needs to quit talking to other people in the group or family unit. At the end of my response, I wrote “That’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to it. If you respond to me with rudeness or hostility, I’ll be going ‘no contact’ with you.” And I added a winking smilie, even though I was dead serious, not that I think the guy cares one way or the other if he ever has a Facebook exchange with me again.

I doubt most random people care when I block them. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know, because I don’t so much as interact with them. I just notice their online conduct and “schwack” them… as Bill would say. Because I’ve seen the trailer and I’ve determined that their show isn’t one I want to watch… or be sucked into for binge viewing. I do it for MY mental health. Sure, it hurts more when a person is blocked by someone they “know”. So, I figure it’s better to spare them the pain by not engaging and just sending them to Facebook’s proverbial round file called the “block list”. I’m sure other people still love them anyway, even if things didn’t work out between us. 😀

It’s very difficult to truly go no contact with people you somehow know. I would love to be able to do it with Ex, but it’s been impossible, especially since Bill and his daughter reconnected. I used to make a point of not searching for information about Ex, because I figured it would disrupt my peace. But then I’d hear about her latest antics or past shenanigans, or some other disgusting layer of toxic crap would come to light. I’d need to unpack it, so I’d write a post in my blog.

Then I noticed her trying to mess with the vulnerable in Bill’s family. I don’t directly intervene, but I do raise the alarm so the more easily affected can protect themselves from the craziness. At this point, I just embrace watching what she posts online. At the very least, it helps warn us if she’s planning something sinister; and at best, sometimes she’s entertaining. I know she watches what I do; she always has, even long before I started paying attention to her. I know, because she mentioned my blog to Bill’s daughter. So yes, I realize I’ve been “Googled”. Turnabout is fair play.

I figure that if you’re reading my blog, seething because I’ve written something you don’t like, or you think is unfair, but then you lack the courage to have a conversation, you’re no better than I am. At least I watch Ex because I know for a fact that she can be dangerous, if not to one’s health, then certainly to one’s finances. I may not be the most likable person, but I’ve never used family members (especially children) as weapons; I don’t threaten or abuse people; I don’t manipulate others; and I’ve never been the direct cause of anyone’s severe financial or emotional problems. I’ve also never left any physical scars in private places on another person’s body.

I suspect people in the family read yesterday’s post, as well as several others. I pay close attention to who reads my blogs and where they come from. There were some suspicious hits yesterday. Allow me to go on record in saying that I truly don’t care if my husband’s former family members read my blog. Maybe it will help some of them wake up and grow up. Or maybe it won’t… either way, it doesn’t matter to me, because they’ve all supposedly gone “no contact”. 😉

Life is short. I don’t like the bloodsucking ticks in the naturepark, or the extortionate behaviors of our former landlady. I also don’t enjoy having my time and emotional well-being sapped by hostile people on Facebook, who don’t bother to consider more than their own perspective before popping off with disrespectful comments to perfect strangers. I choose not to waste my time with those people. I simply go “no contact”. And because they are complete strangers and we have no shared experiences, relatives, or friends in common, it’s super easy to do.

For more information on how to REALLY go “no contact”, have a look at this excellent post by the folks at Psych Central. It offers good advice, but again… it’s not easy to do.

Standard