I have noticed in recent years, that people are becoming less willing to make a statement without adding a qualifying disclaimer. This trend has become especially noticeable in the wake of the pandemic. Someone shares a fun experience they had with friends, for instance, and they add “but we were all masked and ‘socially distanced’, of course!” Or, say someone goes on a vacation and shares pictures, adding “these were all taken before COVID-19”. There are other examples that don’t involve the virus, but since that’s on most everyone’s minds these days, they’re the examples that stand out the most to me.
To be honest, I find these “disclaimers” irritating, although I understand why people add them. It’s because they don’t want someone to get the wrong idea and leave a nasty comment. Or they don’t want to come off as irresponsible or uncaring. The most expedient way to avoid being dressed down by a busybody is to preemptively state the conditions that led to situation that may somehow seem wrong or illegal.
Because I can be contrary and stubborn, I sometimes feel the need to buck this trend. I say “sometimes”, because there are times when I do add a disclaimer, particularly when I’m blogging. Sometimes I write about things that might be distressing or triggering, or I’m in an especially foul mood and have included more profanity in a post than usual. At that point, you might find a disclaimer that warns you to move on from my blog if you can’t deal with it. Despite what some people seem to think, I really don’t want to offend people.
But when it’s someone who’s on Facebook or Twitter, and they’ve shared a photo with friends at the beach, sitting at a cafe, or riding in the car, where not everyone is behaving “safely”, I must admit it’s annoying to read a preemptive disclaimer. And it’s annoying not so much because the person posted the explanation, but more because there’s always one in every crowd– that person who feels the need to take people to task for simply living their lives. Sometimes, the buttinsky is nice about calling the person out, but in many cases they’re rude, and have jumped to conclusions.
Last October, Jason Aldean got a bunch of shit for posting a picture of his family at Walt Disney World. The singer and his wife, Brittany, took their son Memphis, and daughters, Kendyl, Keeley, and Navy to the park to have some pandemic style fun. Aldean captioned the photo with “There is Nothing like seeing ur kids faces when u walk in that place.” Frankly, I am a lot more annoyed by the poorly constructed sentence than the maskless faces that appeared in the photo.
Lots of fans felt the need to comment and shame, based on that picture. One lady wrote, “Wtf are your masks? Everyone is required to wear them? WTH who do you think you are? I’ll never buy your music ever!!!” she wrote.
Seriously… why would she assume Aldean wasn’t following the rules, just based on a photo? Aldean, to his credit responded with, “Chill out lady. They are in our pocket. We took them off for 5 seconds to take the pic. Believe me, Disney didn’t give us a ‘free pass’ not to wear them. We had them on all day just like everybody else.”
Aldean then wrote “just enjoy the picture” and to “stop over analyzing.” The photo and comments were deleted, but it was mentioned in the article that Aldean’s second-oldest daughter, Kendyl, was clutching a mask.
But you see? That’s exactly the behavior I mean. Celebrities, in particular, get a lot of flak for not setting the right example. So, when they do something normal, like hit a Disney park for some rest and relaxation, they have to be careful to share photos in which they appear to be following the rules. Otherwise, they get confronted by busybodies who like nothing better than taking them to task. But again– it’s the busybodies who prompt people to issue disclaimers.
Aldean obviously didn’t think he needed to explain what was normal behavior in early 2020. He probably never dreamed someone would lose their shit over his decision to take a photo without a mask. But people do, and that means people feel the need to preemptively explain themselves. Indeed, Aldean’s wife shared the same photo, but added the disclaimer “Only took masks off for pic.”
Personally, I think people should give others the benefit of the doubt. I would assume, for instance, that people who share a photo from 2021 in which no one is masked, simply took the mask off for the photo. Some people don’t want to be masked when they’re having a picture taken; they want to be able to see faces. I don’t think they should feel the need to explain themselves for having that wish. I like to assume most of the people I know are adults who are capable of living their lives without my input. I would hope they’d feel the same way about me. I shouldn’t have to don a face mask in a photo just to show everyone else how compliant I am and avoid being given a ration of shit online. Why take a smiling photo if your face is going to be covered? This isn’t America’s Next Top Model, and I don’t have a gift for “smizing”. And I don’t necessarily need someone else’s input about what I do in a photo during a pandemic.
I think the other situation that calls for “disclaimers” is when parents share pictures of their kids doing something. It seems the most troublesome photos are the ones of kids in cars. Someone is always going to be scrutinizing how the kid is situated and noting whether or not he or she is properly restrained in a car seat. Or kids riding bikes without helmets or whatever safety equipment is popular… or kids staying home alone, or wearing makeup or heels or whatever. Someone is going to have some kind of comment or criticism. The poster has to either include an explanation or deal with the fallout.
I noticed the “disclaimer” habit a long time ago, but the pandemic has made that practice exponentially more common. Fortunately, I hate having my picture taken, so I almost never post photos of myself with or without a mask. And again, I spend most of my time at home, away from anyone who could post a picture of me not doing “the right thing”.
I’m finding that as time goes on, I have less and less patience for strangers and their opinions. For example, last night, a long-time friend of mine from college posted a picture of Trump with the caption “Miss me yet?” He posted that he did miss Trump. I responded that Trump is a rapist and a malignant narcissist who makes my skin crawl. A friend of his gave me a laughing emoji, which told me all I needed to know about her. I decided to block her. Maybe that seems extreme, but I realized that she obviously thinks sexual assault by men in power is funny, and therefore isn’t worthy of my attention. Donald Trump has repeatedly and freely admitted to assaulting and molesting women. He’s even BRAGGED about it, for Christ’s sake. And countless women have come forward to reveal what a depraved, dishonorable, and disgusting person he is. I believe their stories, because Trump himself has outright stated how he feels about women. I think his unabashed, public comments about how he treats women were reason enough to make him unsuitable to be president.
A woman who finds it humorous that another woman thinks Trump is repulsive for harassing women is not someone I want to get to know. That doesn’t mean I wish her ill, or anything. She could be a wonderful person. I’m sure my friend has a good reason for being friends with her. But the chances that I’ll ever meet her in person are practically nil, and she’s made it plain that she likes Trump no matter what, and doesn’t want to hear why people like me can’t stand him. So we don’t need to interact on social media. She doesn’t need to read my “hilarious” comments, and I don’t need to see her inappropriate reactions. Neither of us needs the raised blood pressure readings.
Sadly, although I’ve known our mutual friend for over 30 years, I’m beginning to lose patience with him, too. He doesn’t have a problem voting for a man who would happily molest his sister, his niece, or a female friend of his. Thinking Trump’s terrible behavior is okay says a lot about a person’s character, or lack thereof. I made a promise to myself not to break up friendships solely due to politics. I truly do think people should vote their consciences. But my problems with Trump have little to do with his being a member of the Republican Party (which is not the Republican Party of my youth). They have to do with him being a vile, contemptible, human being who takes pleasure in degrading and debasing other people. I think people who wholeheartedly support that, politics aside, are probably folks with whom I should think twice about associating.
But for now, we’re still friends. I’m just not following him anymore.