condescending twatbags, healthcare, lessons learned

“You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that…” George Carlin

Yesterday’s post garnered more interest than I expected it would. I enjoyed writing it, but as I was writing, it occurred to me that dealing with stupid insults from clueless people– especially men– is a common theme in my life. The Internet has always been a place of less civilized behavior, but it’s gotten a lot worse lately. There are many reasons for that.

I think it started getting worse when Donald Trump became president. He did not win by a landslide in 2016, so there were many people who were angry about the election. They took to social media to vent. Meanwhile, Trump supporters gloated that “their guy” won, and a lot of them became kind of rude and nasty. Both groups had even less regard for others than they used to, say, ten years ago.

This morning, I read a post I wrote back in April 2020. A Trump supporter had posted a picture of Donald Trump flipping people off with both fingers with the caption “Still your president.” In response to that photo, I posted a picture of Trump with a frog superimposed on his chin. Yes, it was kind of saucy, but at least it wasn’t profane. After a couple more increasingly intense comments, the Trump supporter ended up calling me a “cunt”. Then, when I responded in kind, he blocked me. 😀

I know I should have ignored him. For the most part, I do try to ignore people who say and do provocative things. It never ends well, although I don’t mind being blocked by someone who called me a “cunt”. That’s kind of a low blow, even if I don’t know the person, so I didn’t take the insult personally. I did notice, however, that my less than offended response to being called a “cunt” seemed to really offend the guy. I mean, he was offended by a photo of Trump with a frog on his face after he posted a picture of Trump, as still president, flipping everybody off! Then, after trading insults with and finally going to “fightin’ words”, he blocks me when I give him what he was dishing out! It’s hilarious!

For some reason, a lot of men feel like calling women “cunts” is the ultimate power move. In my view, when someone resorts to calling a total stranger a word like that, that means they’ve lost the argument and need to hurl the worst insults they can think of. But I think that if the word “cunt” is the best word you can come up with to verbally slay someone, your shit’s pretty weak.

Likewise, yesterday’s encounter with “Rick” was pretty disappointing and uncivilized. Rick decided to go “ad hominem” in his argument with others. Anyone who disagreed with his comments was fair game for an ad hominem attack. In my case, he wrongly implied that men don’t want to have sex with me. He’s wrong, because as a happily married woman, there is at least one man in my life who loves having sex with me. There may even be others out there, too. In my experience, there are a lot of men who don’t even care too much about what a woman looks like if there’s a chance that they can have sex. They might not ever speak to the woman again, but by God, if she’s willing to put out, they’re showing up for it. 😀 So Rick’s comment was especially stupid… but it was also kind of mean, and unnecessary.

Lately, I think being “mean” is the order of the day. Because along with Donald Trump, and his campaign of being rude and insulting to people, COVID-19 also came along. COVID-19 is some very scary shit, and people who are taking it seriously are pretty fed up with the so-called deniers and rule flouters. And so, some of these folks have lost their basic sense of decency and civility and they’re posting things that are just nasty and, frankly, uncalled for, as well as occasionally just wrong.

For example, yesterday I read an article about vaccine refusers and a proudly vaccinated woman named Karen wrote that if she and an unvaccinated person both showed up at a hospital at the same time, she should be the one who gets medical care. Why? Because she did as she was told, and got vaccinated. Forget the fact that traditionally, when it comes to medical care, providers triage all comers. That means that if you’re not as sick as the other person because you got the vaccine, you will be waiting. That’s called following medical ethics.

It may not seem right or fair, but in the grand scheme of things, not providing the sicker person with medical care is still putting innocent people at risk. That unvaccinated person is going to spread the virus more than a vaccinated person will, and he or she will need more help. We can bitch and moan as much as we want about people who don’t want to get with the program, but when it comes down to it, it’s not ethically right to deny them care. Still, Karen, was insisting that we should just tell non-vaccinated people to go die in the street or something. I couldn’t help but think that Karen was aptly named. 😉 Although, as I have repeatedly stated, I hate the trend of using people’s first names as pejoratives.

I haven’t been in the United States since 2014, so I have missed all of Trump’s presidency, as well as the US version of the pandemic. Here in Germany, the face mask mandates for shops and public transportation never went away. Around here, people do hate the fucking things, but they mostly stoically cooperate with the rules. And, when the pandemic is tamed somewhat, local leaders have shown that they will amend the rules. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people rebelling or complaining, but we’re not seeing some of the sheer selfishness and rudeness here that I have seen described online in the United States. I will forever be grateful to Germany for letting me live here during these very strange times.

But… I do realize that while Trump and his supporters are pretty insufferable, some people on the other side are just as bad. People who laugh at those who get really sick and die, for instance, are just shitty. Because even if the person might have “asked” for it by not taking precautions, it’s still a pretty horrible way to die, and there are innocent people who will be impacted by it. You may feel better for a few minutes laughing at the father of a newborn who mocked vaccines and died, but he still has an innocent infant son who will forevermore be affected by the loss of his dad. Are you also laughing at that baby’s loss and eventual pain? If you are, shame on you.

Moreover, sometimes people don’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. I read an article in The Atlantic yesterday about how Americans are “getting it wrong” about the unvaccinated. Many people were commenting on it, but I don’t think most of them bothered to read the article. I think that’s a shame, because the article did have some good information. Like, for instance, there’s a reminder that some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because vaccines are not accessible to them, for whatever reason. Say you live in a rural area, but you don’t have a car. The nearest vaccination center is a stout walk. Maybe you won’t get a shot because of that. Or, say you’re a single parent who lacks access to affordable child care. You can’t leave your child alone so you can get the shot. Or, say you work at a job that does not offer paid time off. You can’t afford to take the time to get the shot or deal with the potential side effects.

Rhea Boyd, who is a public health advocate and pediatrician, was interviewed for the article in The Atlantic. She said:

Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and LyftChild-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.

See… I think this is good information and something that privileged people forget to think about when they criticize so-called “anti-vaxxers”. But we’re all so eager to run our figurative mouths about the “type” of person who stubbornly won’t get the vaccine. Boyd continues by stating that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by demonizing people who aren’t vaccinated. Because now, we can’t even have a civilized conversation about this. As I’ve repeatedly stated since this mess started last year, there’s a tremendous pressure to say and do the “right” things. And if you don’t, you can be assured of being browbeaten by patronizing people who can’t find it within themselves to listen and respond with empathy and understanding. Boyd continues:

The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers. They’re our kids! Any child under 12 is in that group.

Just now, I looked at the comment I left on The Atlantic’s Facebook page about this article. I got a few laughing reactions, as well as a dismissive comment about how “bad” unvaccinated people are. I also got a self-righteous lecture from an ER nurse about how she didn’t “need” to read the article, because she’s on the front lines. I resisted the urge to offer her a cookie and reiterated that, yes, she DID need to read the article.

Frankly, everyone should read before they comment, rather than just react to headlines and featured photos. As Rhea Boyd pointed out in her comments in The Atlantic’s article, sometimes people really do have legitimate reasons why they haven’t been vaccinated. Yes, it’s true that some folks are being stubborn and willfully ignorant, but there really can be an issue with access for some people, as well as a lack of information and trust. These are REAL issues. Calling people names and not hearing what they have to say is not going to make them cooperate. But, in fairness, I do have an inkling of the frustration and burnout a lot of healthcare providers must be feeling right now. In fact, thanks to the below video, I got more of an inkling of it this morning.

This is a very powerful video by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. It makes a lot of good sense. But I also think there are people who simply need practical and logistical help in getting the vaccine.

I think things would get better if more people simply cooperated and, as hard as it can be, simply tried to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just lashing out at them. If we stopped politicizing everything and focused on being decent to each other, I think it’s likely that the situation would improve. But people are frustrated, angry, and under pressure from their peer groups and families to pick a side.

I still have a number of Republican friends and loved ones. I don’t disassociate with people simply because of their politics. I do find Trump supporters puzzling, because most of my friends who like Trump truly are decent people, deep down. I don’t understand how decent people can support Trump. Conservatism, I get, but why not demand someone with basic ethics? Is it simply because people think Trump is the only person who can win an election? If so, that’s really sad, and it’s a bleak sign that our future is going to really suck.

Malignant narcissists do not make good leaders. They can’t be good leaders, because in order to be a good leader, one has to care about other people. And malignant narcissists, by definition, only care about themselves. That’s what makes them abusive, petty, childish, and damaging to others. That type of person cannot lead effectively. And Trump has shown us, time and again, that he’s a malignant narcissist. However, so many people have been blinded by his charisma and showmanship, and the fact that he has diarrhea of the mouth and they find it entertaining, that they forget their basic decency.

I can’t say that Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead the country, but I like him much, much more than Trump. The basic fact that he has regard for someone– ANYONE– but himself and his interests, makes him a better leader. I feel safer with him in charge than the unhinged orange turd who brags about molesting women. Trump is focused on making money, satisfying his pleasure center, and being glorified and admired by others. Those are not the traits of a good leader.

Anyway… I guess I’ve prattled on long enough… Comment sections are going to be the death of me. George Carlin was right when he said, “You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that.” Sometimes, it’s really best to keep scrolling and not respond. I do hope this situation improves soon. Because people are definitely getting meaner and less civilized. It makes me envy people like my friend Matt, who has already checked out of this world and moved on to a place where problems don’t exist.

Standard
condescending twatbags, healthcare, poor judgment

Thanks to COVID-19, basic humanity is going extinct…

A couple of nights ago, when Bill and I were in Switzerland, I happened to read a sad story in The Washington Post about a woman from Alabama who used to think COVID-19 was a liberal hoax. Christy Carpenter and her family soon found out COVID-19 is not a joke. She and her 28 year old son, Curt, both got the virus. Christy survived, but Curt didn’t. He was ventilated, suffered a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), and died on May 2.

Now, Christy Carpenter and her daughter, Cayla, are spreading the word that COVID-19 is real. I applaud Carpenter for doing that. I think she’s got guts, and she deserves some empathy. I wish she’d wised up sooner than she did, but she’s going to have to live with the loss of her son, along with any residual COVID-19 aftereffects. I feel sorry for her. I really do.

I think Christy Carpenter is a victim of the pervasive group think that exists in extremely conservative places like Alabama. I know how that is. I grew up in such a place, and for the first 30 years or so of my life, I was a big believer in the conservative mindset on a lot of issues. I think if I’d never left Gloucester County in Virginia, I might still be voting red. After all, that’s what so many people in that county do, and a lot of them were my friends. I also come from a family full of Republicans. Many (but not all) of my loved ones are Trumpers. It’s caused a big divide and, if I’m honest, a real loss in family unity. My own uncle– a man I have always loved and respected– accused me of being a “liberal nut case”. We haven’t spoken since.

When I first read about Christy Carpenter’s ordeal, my heart went out to her. She made a huge mistake in believing the conspiracy theories and outright lies about the COVID vaccines and the virus itself. That mistake led to her “beautiful baby boy” Curt, who reportedly had autism, fighting for his life for weeks before he finally succumbed.

Carpenter explained, “It took years to create other vaccines, and the coronavirus vaccine was created very quickly… That made us very nervous.”

“If Curt were here today, he would make it his mission to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Carpenter said. “Cayla, his sister, and I are carrying out that mission in his memory.”

Curt’s haunting final words to his mom, Carpenter told the WaPo, were: “This is not a hoax, this is real.” 

Carpenter said, “It took watching my son die and me suffering the effects of covid for us to realize we need the vaccine. We did not get vaccinated when we had the opportunity and regret that so much now.”

Admirable… and again, I think it’s very brave for her to speak out, particularly in a place like Alabama, where doctors who have tried to spread truth are getting death threats! Sadly, liberals, who often preach about being compassionate and considerate, are leaving really mean and nasty comments for Carpenter on articles like the one I read on The Washington Post. This story has been picked up and disseminated via several different outlets. On so many of them, people put the blame squarely on Carpenter and show her no mercy. Below are a few examples from the WaPo.

Christy Carpenter watches her son die and she finds herself asking, “why” ? What do you mean? You could have and should have saved your son by getting him vaccinated. You thought the coronavirus was a hoax ! You caused his death. Live with it and stop making excuses

Sorry, not sorry. I am sick and tired of anti-vaxxers saying after someone in their family dies after getting COVID that they should have been vaccinated. You’re too stupid to be vaccinated, die already. That way you’ll be bleaching out the gene pool.

Why does it take more than 600K+ people dying, including one’s own son, to convince them that covid 19 is real?  Were the other 600K+ deaths not enough?  Tragic for the family, yes, but sorry, my heart is stone cold.

So Covid wasn’t a problem until it became HER problem. Very sad for her son who was likely unable to advocate for himself.

It turns out that Republicans would rather die than think.  It’s really hard to feel pity for that.

The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest the ample evidence that surrounds the existence and progression of a pathogen with the potential to eliminate millions, if not billions of our species.   Time for all who remain to stop blaming those  who are purported to mislead, take responsibility for their own bad decisions, and express regrets for dragging the innocents who do not share their deplorably stupid delusions into their  intentionally negligent camp.   There is nothing confusing or mysterious about the existence of the Covid 19 pathogen which merits credible acceptance of  the hoax/conspiracy/denial rationales that are the basis upon which these “victims” seek the sympathy of others.   

I did like that one other commenter clapped back at the person who wrote the above drivel…

“The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest . . .”

That makes no sense.

And you should practice writing short, readable, declarative sentences. (Bwahahahahaa! Too funny!)

There were many other comments like the above on Facebook and the article itself. I see that this story also ran in The Daily Mail. I shudder to read what people have to say on that site. It’s usually pretty lowbrow. I’ve also read several comments about Curt’s weight. He was a large man, which would make COVID-19 especially risky for him.

People have always been mean and unsympathetic, but I’ve noticed it’s especially bad nowadays, in the age of COVID-19. It’s like basic humanity has gone extinct. While I don’t applaud that Christy Carpenter and her family didn’t heed warnings about COVID-19, I do feel sorrow for her. Moreover, I don’t cheer when anyone gets this virus. I don’t think those of us who have never had it have any idea what it’s like. We only have the experiences of others to go on… and, as I have pointed out MANY times in this blog, people are still getting the virus even if they’ve been vaccinated. Some people who get COVID-19 never even know they’ve had it. Others get deathly ill. It’s easy for people to assume they’ll be one of the lucky ones who barely feel the infection, but that’s a very risky idea, especially as the virus mutates.

It’s true that the vaccine seems to substantially cut the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but the vaccine does not stop COVID-19 cold. And so, there will be people who do everything “right” and still wind up battling the coronavirus. I expect there will eventually be some who will die, despite being vaccinated. Granted, in this case, we have a woman and her son who refused to believe in science. But I look at where they live and the mindset in that area. It can be hard to go against the grain when you’re surrounded by so many people who pressure you to think as they do.

I don’t think anyone “deserves” to get COVID-19. I don’t celebrate when I read that someone gets it. I didn’t even laugh when Trump got sick last fall, and most of you know how much I despise Donald Trump. I think anyone who gets sick is entitled to treatment, because I believe that healthcare is a human right and those who don’t get treatment will put innocent people at risk. And I am legitimately SAD for Carpenter, because she has suffered a huge, irreplaceable, and tragic loss, and now has COVID-19 long hauler symptoms.

Christy Carpenter lives in a state where many people mistrust anyone who isn’t Christian and politically conservative. I get that. Even though Virginia turned blue last year, it’s still a deeply conservative red state in many areas. I think the only reason it went blue is because of northern Virginia and the very different demographics in that area. Northern Virginia is like a different state– it’s more Mid Atlantic-Northeast than it is Southern. You go below Fredericksburg or west of Loudon County, and you will find many people who think and believe like Carpenter did.

So I posted a comment on the WaPo article, encouraging people not to be so cruel. I myself have only been fully vaccinated for a few weeks. It’s not because I am a non-believer in vaccine efficacy, but because I am in Germany and couldn’t access the vaccine sooner than I did. And I was able to get it on an Army post, which put me at an advantage. There are Germans who are still waiting to get their turn at the shot. Bill’s American therapist actually went back to the States to get his shots. Should we blame and laugh at Germans and other Europeans if they get sick while they wait?

Sure enough, someone left me a nasty comment about how they have no pity for Carpenter and her family. My response to her? “Good for you. You must be very proud of yourself.”

I know I shouldn’t read comments on news stories. I read them, though, because they give me food for thought. I think a lot of liberals are massive hypocrites. We are all exhausted by COVID-19. It’s tiresome, frustrating, and infuriating to see all of this death, destruction, divisiveness, and tragedy, especially when it seems like some of it could have been prevented. I think people should remember, though, that COVID is still a very new thing, even if it seems like the pandemic has been going on forever. Sadly, some people will not have a concept of how bad it is until they are personally affected. If those people then want to spread the word, I say “good on them”. Spill the tea! Maybe some people will change their minds and do the right thing.

Sometimes, it takes personal loss and tragedy for people to change their views. Other times, it takes exposure to new people and places. I think my views started changing when I left the country. The longer I spend outside of my native land– particularly southeastern Virginia– the more “liberal” and “godless” I seem to become. 😉 Oddly enough, I think I have a more “Christlike” view of many issues than some of the God fearing conservatives I know. I think Christ would be advocating for peace, kindness, and forbearance, rather than finger pointing and derision.

Anyway, Christy Carpenter can count on me not to cast shade on her now. I think it’s hugely commendable that she’s sharing her story, especially since so many people are unkindly reacting with rudeness, hostility, and downright meanness. I know her heart is broken, and I am truly sorry for her loss– both of her son, and her health. I do hope her story serves as a lesson for others. She may even save some lives by bravely sharing it with the masses, even though so many of them are hateful assholes.

I really don’t think this is going to get better until many more people get vaccinated. I don’t think masking and social distancing are much better than Band-Aids for this problem. The sooner people get with the program and do their part, the better off we will all be. And I hope that anyone who still doubts the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccines will think of Carpenter, her son, Curt, and all of the others like her who have lost so much at this time. May God bless them, despite their foolish choices and ignorance.

By the way… I notice that a number of Republicans seem to be trying to change the narrative. I read another story this morning about Sarah Huckabee Sanders advocating for getting vaccinated. She wrongly referred to the shots as the “Trump vaccine”, but then rightly pointed out that the orange turd got the shots, so it was good for her to get them, too. I think Republicans are figuring out that if they don’t convince more of their followers to get vaccinated, they’re going to run out of voters.

And no, Trump does NOT get credit for the vaccines. ALL of the credit goes to scientists, healthcare workers, and public health officials– some of whom are not American. The Pfizer shots were developed right here in Mainz, Germany, about twenty minutes from where I currently live, but German scientists of Turkish descent. The orange fuckwad had NOTHING to do with it, and is not doing enough NOW to get his minions to agree to get vaccinated.

Standard
complaints, condescending twatbags, psychology, rants

Don’t laugh at me…

Back in 2004 or so, there was a show that used to air on ABC Family, or a similar network, that I used to watch on occasion. It was a “feel good” show called Home Delivery. The show’s formula was basically about people with hard luck stories having their dreams come true. The show featured several attractive hosts who would be there to present the fairy godmother treatment to the lucky person with a compelling sob story. I remember Home Delivery to be kind of an annoying and cloying show that appealed to hitting people in the feels. I would watch it because, frankly, I didn’t have anything better to do.

Home Delivery…

I remember one episode was about a young woman who had “severe appearance deficits”, as George Carlin might have joked. I don’t remember what the exact issues with her physical appearance were, but they were obvious and she dealt with a lot of mean behavior from others because of it. I think they may have been caused by a medical problem. In any case, I remember she loved the song “Don’t Laugh at Me” by country singer Mark Wills. I had never heard the song before I watched that episode, but I remembered Wills’ song, “I Do (Cherish You)” from a wedding at which I performed (not that song– it was played at the reception). Alas, the marriage didn’t last, and the bride has since wed twice more, though I did catch her bouquet and was married myself a couple of years later.

There’s a lot of truth to this song and many of us can relate to it…

I am one of those folks people love to laugh at, which is probably why I have such a wicked looking resting bitch face. I’ve spent many years being ridiculed, particularly by so-called loved ones. I think that may be why I developed a sharp wit… or so people have told me, anyway. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t very quick with my words. I have an older sister who used to make me cry all the time because she would belittle me. This sister, like several others in my family, is also very witty and funny, although I think she has a tendency to be kind of mean. One time, when we were on somewhat good terms, I asked her how she got to be so quick with put downs. She told me that she’d learned from an early age to cut people down before they cut her down. It got to the point at which she would slay people with a clever barb before they knew what hit them.

I noticed that another one of my sisters also has this trait. She can be deadly with her words when she wants to be, although I don’t think she’s quite as quick witted as my other sister is. The eldest sister is above everything and not particularly funny… except for the rumor that she’s somehow morphed into a Trump supporter. I feel like she’s a victim of body snatchers! This sister, like me, was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She also has a doctorate in public health, speaks several languages, and was a ballerina for years. But she’s drunk the Republican Kool-Aid. I feel like we switched places. I used to be more conservative and she was more liberal. Now, the opposite is true. I blame my brother-in-law.

That song by Mark Wills popped into my head last night. I was reading a story about how over the past COVID-19 year, people have become extremely unruly on airplanes. I think I read that in the ten years prior to the pandemic, the FAA had dealt with some 1300 complaints total. And over the past year, with the new rules and face mask mandates, there’s been a lot of rebellion. According to that article, they’ve had 1300 complaints and counting– just since FEBRUARY.

As usual, commenters were all clamoring about how we should show no mercy to the rule flouters. Throw the book at them and toss ’em in jail! Zero tolerance! Let ’em rot with the child molesters and murderers! I understand the outrage and the sentiment, but I wish people would stop for a moment and think about what they’re suggesting.

I happen to believe that jail is an overrated punishment that is mostly ineffective at best. So I commented something along the lines of “Jail isn’t the best punishment for every crime.” That’s all I wrote. I didn’t write anything about not punishing offenders. I didn’t even express any sympathy for the rule breakers, although I can kind of understand why some of them cracked. I just wrote that I don’t think putting people in jail is the best way to handle the problem.

Do you know that at last count (because I quit looking), there were at least five laughing responses to my comment? I don’t know what was so funny about it. It was a simple statement, and like I said, it’s not like I expressed a wish for the misbehaving people not to be held accountable. I just think putting people in jail for every single offense is wrong-headed and does more harm than good, particularly in a pandemic. And, perhaps because I’m extremely irritable and stressed out right now, I lashed back at a few people who decided they needed to school me with lengthy diatribes about why we can’t let the rule breakers “run roughshod”.

The first response I got was a comment about how we should just execute people so they won’t reoffend. That response was stupid, and I said so (note– I didn’t “laugh” at the guy or call HIM stupid). The next two were from women who both kind of gave off an extremely shrill and neurotic vibe. I wanted to tell them to calm down and hear me out, rather than “laughing” at me and verbally vomiting the same tired script we’ve been hearing all year about how to deal with pandemic rule breakers.

To the first commenter, I wrote that I never said we should let the rule breakers go unpunished. I said that jail isn’t the most effective way to deal with people who break the rules. The lady had said the rule flouters would “learn a lesson”, but I think if she did her research about recidivism, she’d find that a lot of people who go to jail end up reoffending. Moreover, jail sentences don’t just affect the offender. They can have a bad effect on society as a whole. Locking up people costs money to taxpayers, and makes it more difficult for the offender to support themselves and their families. A jail experience can have a devastating psychological or even physical effect on a person… or it can have no effect at all. Again, plenty of people who do time end up going back to jail.

To the second one, whose fingers pretty much vomited out the same shrill diatribe as the first commenter’s, I wrote something along the lines of “Americans are much too wedded to the idea that we have to jail everyone who does something wrong. Consequently, we have many, many incarcerated people who are being guarded by folks who, frankly, often aren’t a lot better than they are.” Then I added that it seems to me that if controlling the pandemic is a concern, locking potentially unvaccinated people up in a crowded jail is not the best approach to fixing the problem. Then I added a comment about how it’s sad that people “laugh” at anyone who isn’t parroting the same crap in the comment sections rather than taking a moment to consider if what they’ve said makes any sense. I ended by wishing them all a good day. A couple of people “liked” that comment.

I don’t know… maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the vast majority of people aren’t thinkers. People have a knee jerk response to so many issues. Someone does something wrong? JAIL THEM! Lock ’em up and throw away the key! Let ’em ROT! To be sure, prisons and jails do serve a purpose. I think they are mostly valuable for keeping society safe from dangerous offenders, although some people who commit egregious, but non-violent, crimes probably should go to prison, too. But not everyone needs to be locked up to be taught a valuable lesson. Maybe it’s my time living in Europe that has made me feel this way, but I really do think Americans are way too enamored with the idea of throwing people away in barred warehouses. It’s sad, ineffective, and inhumane.

Empathy is a two way street. You can’t expect people to have empathy for your situation if your rabid response to them, and their concerns, is to simply lock them up and hope they rot in prison. Jail is not necessarily the best place for people to learn empathy… although I suppose it can and does happen sometimes.

Why are so many people freaking out now, because of the “strip of cloth” they are being asked to wear across their nose and mouth? Well… I think it’s because a lot of them are tired of being told that the “strip of cloth” is not a big deal. Clearly, it IS a big deal to a lot of people. Folks who would have never caused a problem on an airplane prior to the year 2020 are now acting crazy, rebelling, assaulting and cursing at flight attendants, and behaving completely out of character. I think it’s time that we acknowledged that forcing people to wear face masks for hours on end is a problem, and it’s not a sustainable practice. A more acceptable solution must be found and implemented, or these kinds of outbursts will continue. The FAA can keep fining and banning people for life from airplanes, and we can keep throwing the offenders in jail, but eventually that will cost the airline industry, and society as a whole, money that we can’t really afford to lose. Moreover, the job of enforcing the mask wearing will continue to suck and airlines will have trouble finding people to work on their planes.

I’ve found that trying to explain this concept to people is very difficult. I generally don’t try to do that in comment sections anymore, because people have become very rigid in their thinking. And they are quick to “laugh” at anyone who thinks or dares to say anything different. People will dismiss anyone who has empathy for the “anti-maskers” as crybabies, COVIDiots, spoiled brats, irresponsible and selfish, Trump supporters, or science deniers. Speaking only for myself, I can assure you that I’m none of those things. I got my first vaccine last week, and I wear the mask when I must. I will also confess that a year ago, I was afraid the masks were going to become permanent, but this year, my gut feeling is that most people plan to ditch them as soon as they can. That makes me feel somewhat better and more hopeful about the future.

Even Dr. Fauci has said that the masks could become less of a thing soon. He has said that as more people get vaccinated, we should become more liberal about indoor mask wearing. Some people may choose to wear them, and that should be perfectly fine, but the mandates forcing people to wear them will be lifted. Frankly, I believe that once that happens, the FAA will have far fewer issues with passengers attacking flight attendants on airplanes. Instead, they’ll just go back to attacking each other over reclining their seats and being too fat for economy class.

Of course… if someone gets on a plane and does something violent or genuinely puts people’s lives at risk by being disruptive, then yes; by all means, they probably should do some time behind bars. But I don’t think a “zero tolerance– straight to jail” policy is necessarily the best approach to handling every incident or altercation on an airplane. Because, as I mentioned earlier in this post, since February, the FAA has gotten over 1300 complaints about unruly passengers. We have a lot of jail and prison facilities in the United States, but at the rate people seem to want to lock people up, we’re sure to run out of space eventually.

Now… getting back to the title of this post– “don’t laugh at me”. Why was I so annoyed by the “laughing emojis”? Part of it is because, on the whole, I’m generally upset about life right now. But the laughing at me thing has been an issue my whole life. I’m the youngest of four by a lot of years, and my whole life, people have scoffed at me, laughed at me, underestimated me, not taken me seriously, and basically treated me like I’m stupid. Sometimes, I can use that perception to my advantage, but if I’m honest, it gets really old when people feel the need to resort to ridicule and insults. I’m tired of it, and have reached a point at which I’m not willing to tolerate it anymore.

There was a time when I was much more likely to take the blame in a situation in which someone mistreated me. Like, if someone chastised, ridiculed, or humiliated me, I would just feel shame and blame myself. But now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that anyone who resorts to making other people feel bad by being rude or mean to them is the one with the problem, especially if they are a perfect stranger.

Some months ago, a YouTube acquaintance/collaborator I had once respected “yelled” at me because I commented on his video in a way that he didn’t expect or appreciate. He had wanted me to simply praise his video. My comment was short, and had nothing to do with the music in his video, but was more about world events. He proceeded to go “off” on me publicly, lecturing me about the genius of Paul Simon (seriously?) and that I shouldn’t post anything on his videos that wasn’t strictly about the video or the music. I took that to mean that he only wanted positive feedback, which he would then reciprocate with a rubber stamp comment on my videos. Wow. Don’t do me any favors.

I didn’t realize that he’d had this policy. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything. Or maybe I would have just posted, “Nice job.” or something equally banal. I mistook him for a friend, though, so I didn’t simply praise him. I didn’t insult him, nor did I write anything that was extremely offensive. He’d played “American Tune” and my comment was that America wasn’t looking that great lately. My former acquaintance, who is from Scotland, took that to be a political comment, although I didn’t mention a word about politics. He ripped me a new one. I considered responding, but decided that this was the last straw in a disturbing trend. So I deleted my comment and unsubscribed from his channel. I also temporarily hid the recordings we’d done together and stopped featuring one of our duets, because I wanted to take a few days to process his response to me. They have since been restored. I figure if he wants me to take them down, he can ask.

Do you know what this guy did? He came to my channel and took the time to delete every single comment he’d ever left for me over a span of about seven or eight years. That just told me that my initial response to his public ass ripping comment was the right one. Obviously, he’s an asshole and not worth my time. He probably felt I should be grateful to him for sharing his “genius” with me on our collaborations, but actually, I feel grateful because his shitty behavior only prompted me to learn how to play guitar with more urgency. Because I don’t want to remain in a situation where I feel like I have to be nice to someone so they’ll do me a favor. The truth is, I’d overlooked some of his prior bad behavior because I enjoyed making our collaborations. We like similar music and our voices work well together. But he obviously doesn’t respect me and, I think, was either jealous or using me on some level. I should thank him, too, because last month I posted my first two videos in which I played guitar FOR MYSELF. 😀

This doesn’t mean that I think I’m better than he is, by the way. He is a more skilled musician than I am, by far. I think he’s the type of person who doesn’t want to share the credit. He’d suggest collaborations. We’d do them. I’d post them on my channel, but I noticed that he only posted ONE of our collaborations on his channel. And that collaboration got a lot of positive comments, which he brought up repeatedly in emails to me. I think if I had sucked, he wouldn’t have offered to do more collaborations. I think the truth is, we didn’t suck, but he didn’t want to share the wealth. For some reason, he felt perfectly fine in just publicly ripping on me. I didn’t retaliate by ripping on him in kind, because it was his channel and I respect his right to run it the way he wants (although he didn’t reciprocate in that instance, either). But I did vote with my feet. Obviously, my reaction to his public belittling hit a raw nerve for him to be so petty. I’m sure he’ll find someone else to sing with, while I continue to improve my guitar playing.

Last night, I asked my friends on Facebook if I was really “that funny”. It seems like everybody is laughing at me. A number of people responded. I was kind of surprised by that, since it was meant to be a general and rhetorical statement of irritation rather than a serious question. I was heartened to read some kind responses from people I think are real friends. Many of them are people I have known offline, but a couple are people who only know me from the Internet. I will say that those who took the question seriously are high value people worth my consideration and time. Those who just “laugh” at others… not so much. However, I reserve the right to laugh at people who still champion Donald Trump.

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psychology, social media

“We’re at war with the virus, not each other”

Yesterday, I ran across an article in the Washington Post about “Friendsgiving”, a trendy holiday that developed pre-pandemic involving young people gathering for a potluck meal. The article was about how canceling Friendsgiving was “hitting some young people hard”.

For some reason, it seems that a lot of people have lost the ability to empathize with others. Based on the comments for the Friendsgiving article, many folks are very grouchy and heartless. Here’s a quote from the article, which I think sums up its main idea:

The coronavirus pandemic has spoiled Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving’s younger and cooler cousin famous for potluck-style meals among friends. While it is a wise public health decision to cancel Friendsgiving, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, experts worry that its absence may exacerbate loneliness among young people already isolated from classmates, separated from co-workers and longing for touchstones of burgeoning adulthood.

Nowhere in that paragraph is there any mention of people gathering anyway. I’m sure some people did get together, against all advice, but I’ll bet more people than not decided to skip it. But that’s apparently not good enough for some people. I read comment after comment from people who wrote things like “Cry me a freakin’ river” and “Get over it”. Or they pointed out that some people, like medical staff or military, have it much worse.

These were the most recent comments on the Washington Post’s article.

I don’t understand why people can’t acknowledge the pain that some people are dealing with during the pandemic. A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post that mentioned how some young people are having trouble coping with being so isolated. People are actually committing suicide because they’ve lost hope and the will to live during the pandemic. Some people may think that’s stupid, but what right do they have to discount other people’s legitimate pain? Why not just be kind and understanding?

Is it really helpful to call someone a “snowflake” when they’re struggling? Is it really necessary to be snarky and nasty to people who feel hopeless and depressed? Would these eye rolling assholes like to see people killing themselves because they’ve lost hope? Do they like it when they experience loneliness and someone discounts their pain?

I’m sure a lot of these unsympathetic attitudes come from the fact that 2020 has been an unusually difficult year for many people. People are angry, and anger causes grumpiness and lashing out at others. I’m not immune to it myself, although I haven’t suffered as much this year as a lot of other people have. I have, however, been young, scared, anxious, lonely, depressed, and wondering if it was worthwhile to go on living. I experienced those feelings years ago, when I suffered from clinical depression. Fortunately, I had a good therapist and effective antidepressants, as well as good friends and a weekly voice class. With time and effort, I overcame depression, but I didn’t do it alone.

Today’s young people are denied even a face to face conversation or a gentle hug from a loved one. Telling them to “get over it” seems especially unkind right now. In fact, it’s cruel. And yes, I get that many people have it “worse”– but one person’s version of worse might be different than another person’s is. No one person gets to tell another person what should or should not be painful for them. How hard is it to simply acknowledge that someone is having a tough time and wishing them well?

More “get over it” comments.

I get that we’re all suffering to some extent and it’s good to be tough and upbeat in the face of difficulties. But why is it necessary to be so shitty? Are people really incapable of stopping to consider, for just a minute, that everyone has a different pain threshold? It costs nothing to be nice, and show some understanding toward other people. There’s no need to engage in “whataboutism”. Acknowledging a person’s specific struggle takes nothing away from someone who is supposedly suffering “worse”. Who really decides who’s got it “worse”, anyway? Someone who dies of COVID-19 (which they hopefully picked up innocently while fully masked and socially distanced, lest they not be worthy of any sympathy) is no better off than someone who dies of suicide caused by depression. Both people are gone and will likely be missed by others, right? Both deaths are ultimately tragic.

Depression is a real thing. It can be deadly. Being bored, lonely, and cut off from support can push someone to the brink. As President-elect Joe Biden has said, “We’re at war with the virus, not each other…” These are wise, welcome words from someone who wants to be a leader. He’s shown more leadership in two and a half weeks than Trump has shown in his entire lifetime. And I’m going to listen to Mr. Biden and have a heart for those who feel lonely, anxious, and isolated right now. Those are valid concerns.

Just be kind. Show some decency and basic humanity. If someone is feeling sad or lonely and dares to express it, don’t invalidate them by telling them to “get over it” or “stop being such a snowflake.” If you were hurting, you’d want the same consideration, wouldn’t you?

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karma, music, psychology

I’m done with mean people…

I ran into a mean person last night. This person is not someone I know personally. He’s an online acquaintance with whom I had traded comments for some time. We also worked on some musical collaborations together. He seemed like an okay person, but then last night he showed me who he really is. And now I’ve decided that I’m done with him.

Have you ever been shocked by someone’s sudden show of mean-spiritedness? And then when you look back on it, you realize that the meanness was always there? This has happened to me a few times in my life. When I was younger, I was big on giving people second chances. As I’ve aged, I’ve found that these types of people almost never change their ways, even if they apologize. Once they show you the ugly, you have to decide whether or not they’re worth the effort. I decided last night, this person was not worth the effort anymore.

To be fair, he had been showing me his true colors for some time. I chose to ignore them because I genuinely admired his talents. But now, I’m afraid he just went too far. He probably won’t care, and may not even notice what I did. Maybe I’m wasting my time even thinking about this, let alone writing a post. But writing helps me clear my head, and I know that some people can relate. It’s as if writing this down is a way of reassuring myself that it’s okay to part ways with someone who shows you what an asshole he is.

Maybe it’s because of Trump that I’ve lost my capacity to deal with mean people anymore. Blessings to Miles Betterman for this perfect musical interlude.

I won’t lie. I was hurt at first. I actually shed a few tears, which I don’t do so often anymore. But then I swallowed the pain, poured myself a beer, and set to work banishing yet another shitty person from my life. And, I have to say, it kind of felt empowering. I should even thank this person, since I woke up feeling like recording a couple of songs. They aren’t perfect, but I think they turned out okay. And it felt good to belt out some tunes. I’d been slacking off on it, working more on guitar. I’m not nearly as good at guitar as I am vocals, but I could say that I should be grateful for the mean person simply because now I am determined to get good enough at playing guitar that I won’t need anyone to collaborate with me anymore. He reminded me of why I started learning how to play guitar. It’s so I can do what I want to, when I want to, and collaborations become a choice, rather than a necessity.

I guess that when it comes down to it, it’s important to realize that the world is full of all kinds of people. Some people are great– empathetic, kind-hearted, and decent. Some people are self-centered shitheads. It’s not a loss to lose one of the shitheads, because he or she will surely be replaced by someone who is better. And even if he or she is not replaced by someone better, life is better without any extra shitheads in it. Life is short, and there’s no need to spend it stroking someone’s fragile ego and tolerating their selfishness.

Yes, please do call…

So, although I never fail to be disappointed when someone shows me that, deep down, they’re mean and nasty, in the long run, I am always happier after I kick them out of my life. I’ll be okay this time, too. At least I have my dogs and my husband, who are never mean to me. And again, I’d like to thank Mr. Meanie, because he inspired me to create new things… alone. I wish him luck in his endeavors. Time to move on.

In other news… Pastor Paula White is in the news, spewing craziness again.

I used to watch her on TBN for fun. She’s completely psycho… and I think she’s worried about losing her job. She’s always been about the money, anyway. I remember watching her do “faith healings” and her goons almost dropped some lady.

She’s praying for a miracle. Clearly, the race can be won by either side, which is also very disappointing. Donald Trump is the Grand Poobah of shitheads, after all. Half the U.S. population doesn’t care that he’s a narcissistic cretin who cares only for himself. That’s very sad to me. But again… you can’t cure stupidity. Even if Trump wins, his very public tantrums as Joe Biden appears poise to kick him out of the White House are a big clue that he’s not worthy of being a leader of the Water Buffaloes, let alone the United States. And that’s why I sang this song for Trump this morning.

I am so fucking tired of Trump.

And then I did this other song, because I’ve been wanting to for awhile…

I would be lucky if I could go to France without worrying about the virus…

Maybe these songs aren’t as good as the originals, but I sure enjoyed singing them today. Maybe someone will enjoy listening… if not, I’ll try again another day.

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