disasters, mental health, music, narcissists

Jenna Ryan in the Land of Delusion…

A song that was popular during my high school days. I think it kind of fits– replace “confusion” with “delusion”.

Remember Jenna Ryan? For a few weeks in January and February, she was in the news a lot, running her mouth about storming the Capitol on January 6th, the day thousands of unhinged and delusional Trump supporters tried to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Joe Biden’s favor. On that bitter, cloudy, bleak day, Ms. Ryan, dressed in a cutesy American flag scarf she said she’d bought at a kiosk, promoted herself as a real estate agent and bragged about her part in the whole failed “#StoptheSteal” campaign.

A news item about Jenna Ryan when the news was fresh.

I wrote a couple of times about Ms. Ryan when her story was new news. I have to admit, she’s a very compelling character. She definitely talks a good game, doesn’t she? If you watch the above clip, you can hear her trying to minimize her part in the rioting, even though there were photos and videos of her participating in the mayhem with gusto. From boarding a private jet and bragging about that to claiming that the day of the insurrection was “the best day of [her] life”, it’s clear that she’s in the thick of this mess. And since “her president” didn’t give her the pardon she requested, she is now facing several federal charges that, if she’s found guilty, could land her in prison.

Listen to her say that she thought this was just a “protest”, then see her on video saying she doesn’t care that someone got “shot in the face”.

She didn’t think she would be charged… and now she feels “very persecuted”. In case you missed it— there is a very real chance she could be going to prison. But just a few months after the insurrection, Ms. Ryan thinks she will not end up behind bars. Why? Apparently, because she’s a “pretty” white woman with blonde hair and nice teeth. When a Twitter user named Tyson Stuart commented on the fact that Ryan is in deep legal doo doo, she responded:

I think 50 year old Jenna might want to consider that she may soon need her roots touched up and her teeth capped. Jail is a very real possibility for her.

Twelve hours ago at this writing, Ryan shared an article from Politico with the headline “Many Capitol rioters unlikely to serve jail time”. She commented:

This could be true for a lot of people… but will it be true in HER case?

If I were Jenna Ryan, I would not be so bold as to state that I definitely wasn’t going to be going to jail. Especially when I’ve made a lot of false statements that were later proven to be false due to the “miracles” of video and screenshots. She was caught on video bragging about what she was doing, which was definitely a violation of federal law and can carry jail time.

I think, as a major cheerleader for the insurrection, Jenna Ryan probably deserves some jail time, although she’s not as guilty as the people who were actually violent and/or hurt or killed people and caused property damage. I’ve not seen evidence that Jenna Ryan was particularly violent (other than screaming on camera that her fellow supporters are armed and dangerous). She’s just extremely delusional and obnoxious, as far as I can tell. Still, she obviously hasn’t learned to keep quiet, and I think that will hurt her in the long run. Her “white privilege” statement doesn’t help her cause, either.

I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on TV. I’ve also never met Ms. Ryan. However, having been around a lot of character disordered, high-conflict personalities, I suspect that she has some pathology. She claims she doesn’t need money, but then launches a GoFundMe campaign, which was later taken down. She encourages people to give to her cause, not because she’s in dire need of money to pay her lawyer(s), but because the donators will be “blessed”. Like– she’s doing them a favor by giving them the chance to donate to her cause… a cause that is illegal and led to people dying and major property damage, not to mention the psychological damage to everyone who was traumatized by that day. She’s been taking Paula White lessons.

She claims to have “seen the light” and whines about having fallen for a scam, but then overconfidently tweets that she won’t be doing any time in jail because she has “blonde hair, white skin, and a great job”. Is she really setting the real estate world on fire down in Texas? I know she’s had some major financial problems in the past— debts and tax problems that led to a lien on her house. But one quality that makes a great salesperson is that “fake it until you make it” attitude and using other people’s money. I’m sure there are some people out there who might support her cause. She’s kind of cute for her age, and there are plenty of deluded Trumpers lurking out there in the shadows who think what happened on January 6th was A-OK. But I think a lot more of us dwell in the glorious sunlight of reality. Despite her confidence and “sass” on Twitter, Jenna Ryan is truly in deep shit. And she, alone, put herself there.

At least in January, Jenna was smart enough to see that prison was a reality for her:

“I listened to my president. He told me to go to the Capitol. I’m facing a prison sentence…”

Yes, you are, Jenna. You are not a victim, either. You got on that private plane of your own free will, unmolested, in part because you are a white woman with blonde hair and pretty teeth. You were not a spectator. You bragged about “marching” to the Capitol and stated, on camera, that you didn’t care if someone got shot in the face. You even said you didn’t care if YOU got shot. And you sipped white wine while you walked around our nation’s capital city, shrieking about how your desires to keep Trump in office were more important than everyone else’s rights to a newly elected (and much more competent) leader chosen in a free and fair election. Here you are on Twitter screaming like you’re at a fucking high school pep rally…

“You’re messing with the WRONG people!!!! … We are ARMED and DANGEROUS!” You said it, Jenna. It’s right here on video!

I would love to know what events from her past made Jenna Ryan into the obviously delusional person she is today. It’s been my experience that people like Jenna have a lot of pain in their histories. People who can deny reality so blatantly and try to pass themselves as people they’re not have usually have had reasons to develop that ability. I suspect some person or people probably hurt Jenna, and she’s learned to survive the pain by being completely out of touch with reality. And because she believes her own lies, other people are willing to believe her. However, judging by the comments she’s getting on Twitter, it appears that she’s her own worst enemy and more people are ready to see her cuffed and stuffed than not.

Jenna Ryan may very well not go to prison… and maybe some nice sugar daddy will come along and give her life a happy ending. Stranger things have happened. Look what’s happened in my life. But, I think it’s much more likely that Jenna will have a reckoning soon. Even if she doesn’t get any jail time, there will be a heavy price for her to pay. She can deny it all she wants, but the truth always comes out in the end. She’s very desperate to show everyone who she is– or, at least the fake version. But pictures and videos don’t lie. She’s clearly guilty as hell. Hopefully, she will get exactly what she so richly deserves.

“Land of Confusion” lyrics… (I think it’s genius… a perfect song about the state of our world today. The boys from Genesis were definitely on to something back in the 1980s. Plus, it still sounds good!)

I must have dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street

Now, did you read the news today?
They say the danger has gone away
But I can see the fire’s still alight
They’re burning into the night

There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in

Oh, Superman, where are you now?
When every thing’s gone wrong somehow?
Men of steel, these men of power
I’m losing control by the hour

This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go around
Tell me why this is the land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in

I remember long ago
When the sun was shining
And all the stars were bright all through the night
In the wake up this madness, as I held you tight
So long ago

I won’t be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know we’ll never keep

There’s too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there’s not much love to go around
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion?

Now, this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for

This is the world we live in
And these are the names we’re given
Stand up and let’s start showing
Just where our lives are going to

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Anthony George Banks / Phillip David Charles Collins / Michael Rutherford

Standard
complaints, modern problems

The obligatory disclaimer…

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’ll bet Tyra Banks would love to do a face mask challenge today.

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.



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Ex, mental health, politics

When QAnon brings estranged family members together…

Yesterday, I read a sad article in The Washington Post about how people have lost family members to QAnon. It began with a compelling description about how 24 year old Tyler watched as his mom stocked up for an imagined armageddon. She brought home ammunition, a water purifier, camping gear, and shelf stable food. She started wearing a holstered pistol just walking around her house, believing that there would be days of power outages and civil unrest.

Tyler’s mom told him that on March 4, 2021, there would be massive chaos. That would be when Donald Trump would return to power. March 4, for your edification, is the original Inauguration Day prior to the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1932.

Tyler had been living with his mother since he graduated college in 2019. They were located about an hour north of Minneapolis. As the 2020 elections approached, Tyler watched as his mom became more and more entrenched in baseless conspiracy theories and outright lies. Based on the WaPo’s article, I can assume that she turned into someone he no longer knew. Complicating matters was the presence of Tyler’s stepfather, who is apparently just as entrenched in QAnon.

The confusion in the household and worry Tyler experienced prompted him to seek help online. Last month, Tyler found the Reddit group, QAnonCasualties, which was founded by people who had watched their families fracture over the political climate in the United States. He explained to the moderators of the group that his mother and stepfather have a lot of weapons and are convinced that World War III is about to commence.

Making matters worse is the fact that Tyler hasn’t been working. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, Tyler had graduated from a local university with a degree in manufacturing engineering. He quit his job in early January because he hoped to find work that would make use of his newly minted degree. As of yet, he hasn’t found new work. As Inauguration Day approached, he watched his mom grow ever more unhinged.

An old friend had stopped by with a wedding present, since Tyler’s mom had just remarried. Noticing the pistol, the friend asked Tyler’s mom if she planned to shoot anyone that day. And Tyler’s mom reportedly replied, “You never know what’s going to happen with the Democrats. They stole the election.” The friend told WaPo reporters that Tyler’s mom had once been a “wonderful” person who had invited her over for tea and gone kayaking with her. But now, it seems she’s gone completely off the deep end. According to the article:

To protect his family’s anonymity, The Washington Post is only using Tyler’s first name. In an email, his mother blamed her son for the tension in the house, writing that he was disrespectful and refused to look for work after leaving his job earlier this year. She added that she “never even heard of Qanon until very recently” and doesn’t “follow it,” but declined to discuss why she had begun purchasing survival gear and whether she believed Trump would return to the White House in March. “My beliefs about Trump are actually none of your business,” she wrote.

Tyler said he and his mother discussed QAnon one time; a bizarre conversation in which his mother insisted that QAnon prophecies were the product of artificial intelligence. He described an atmosphere of growing conspiracy and fear that pervaded his home. “It started a month before the election,” Tyler said in an interview, “and it kept growing until it felt like she was preaching the Bible to me.”

At first she insisted that Trump, not Biden, would be inaugurated on Jan. 20, and for a while Tyler held out hope that Biden’s swearing-in would jolt his mother back into reality. She would put away her gun and life would return to normal. But, the ceremony in Washington seemed to make little difference at his house in Minnesota.

Tyler truly hoped his mom would be more normal once Biden was inaugurated. He even posted online that she had seemed more “normal” on January 21st. But very soon, she went back to her old ways, insisting that Trump would be back in the White House. So Tyler decided to confront his mom, and that confrontation ultimately led to his being ejected from her home. She even threatened to have her new husband “hurt” Tyler.

Which brings me to the title of today’s post… up until this point, it sounds like Tyler’s family fell apart due to QAnon. But he found help from his other parent– his biological father and stepmother. Tyler had lost contact with his dad when he was a child and they had only recently reconnected. And Tyler’s dad and stepmother were willing to take him in, once Tyler’s unhinged mom tossed him and his belongings out of her house. On February 3, 2021, Tyler texted his stepmother, Heather, and told her that he’d confronted his mom, telling her that he didn’t believe in QAnon or any of his mom’s whackadoodle theories.

Half an hour later, Heather picked up Tyler, who was waiting in the front yard. When he got into Heather’s car, Tyler started to cry. Tyler is now sleeping in his 7 year old half sister’s bedroom. She sleeps in her parents’ room. Not long after the confrontation with Tyler’s mom, Tyler was contacted by his new stepfather, who wrote “When your daddy gets sick of you living there (and he will) don’t bother calling us.”

Those of you who regularly follow my blog might already know that my husband lost contact with his daughters after he and his ex wife divorced. A few years ago, one of Bill’s daughters finally reconnected with him. The other one remains estranged, and is apparently hopelessly entrenched in her mother’s sick, culty world. Last year, just before COVID-19 shut everything down, Bill visited his younger daughter for the first time since Christmas 2004. When she opened the door, Bill said the two of them stood there and shared a long overdue hug. And then they spent the whole two days of Bill’s visit debriefing each other about the events of the fifteen years they had spent apart.

I don’t know anything about Tyler’s mom, but although Tyler’s mom’s friend describes her as a “wonderful” person, I have a feeling that she’s another one of those people who hates her exes more than she loves her children. I come to that conclusion, not just because she fell into the QAnon cult, but because of a comment Tyler made to his stepmother. When he texted Heather that his mom had threatened to have his new stepfather “hurt” him, he also explained that he wasn’t actually worried about his safety. He wrote, “I’ve been dealing with this for years. It’s normal for me.

When Bill and his daughter met last year, Bill heard in more detail what it was like to grow up with Ex. There were many threats and promises made. There was a lot of “culty” thinking, not just in terms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Ex had insisted on joining a few years before she and Bill split, but also in terms of her own mini narcissistic cult. The girls were forced to write Bill letters disowning him and demanding that he allow their stepfather, Ex’s third husband, to adopt them. Ex had reportedly stood over them and made them write the letters, which she sent Bill just in time for his 42nd birthday.

Something tells me that Tyler’s current stepfather is not his first, since he wrote to Heather that this was not a new thing. Tyler’s mom evidently has a history of coming unglued, and probably sees Tyler as an extension of herself. And when Tyler didn’t want to fall in with her QAnon fantasy, she cast him out… the same way Ex does to anyone who won’t play along with her fantasies. I don’t know enough about Tyler’s mom to say I think she’s a narcissist, but my guess is that she has a “high conflict personality”. And as Bill and I have observed with his ex wife, who also has a high conflict personality, these types of people often get sucked into things as they blame everyone else for their issues. With Ex, it was everything from multi-level marketing scams to the LDS church. Granted, the Mormons didn’t turn out to be all bad. They did help Bill’s daughter escape her mother. But the church doesn’t give things without strings attached.

Younger daughter no doubt feels indebted to the church, and believe me, it’s not unlike the leadership to capitalize on that human need for reciprocity— that is, feeling obligated to reciprocate “kind actions”. There’s nothing wrong with that on its surface. Sometimes, however, “reciprocity” can be abused, and people wind up trapped by the need to pay back a solid, even long after the “emotional debt” has been repaid. This is how groups get control over people and stop them from living their own lives and thinking for themselves. Pretty soon, the lovebombing that occurs at the beginning of the relationship can turn into something sinister and toxic.

I have long believed that my husband’s ex wife runs her life like a mini cult. Anyone in her sphere has to accept whatever her conditions are, no matter how nutty or destructive they are. She’s allowed to do anything she wants, even if it’s criminal, because she had a shitty childhood and no one recognized how “special” she is. She’s allowed to abuse her husbands and her children because she was abused, and she’s allowed to take that abuse as far as she wants with no repercussions, whatsoever. Meanwhile, those of us who have been affected by her behavior and dare to speak out about it get raked over the coals and smeared. She went as far as to alienate Bill’s children, but she also did her best to try to destroy his relationships with his own parents!

Like Tyler, Ex has at least a couple of children who are on the autism spectrum, which makes them more vulnerable to her toxicity. Bill’s older daughter supposedly has Asperger’s Syndrome, and younger daughter has said that Ex’s youngest child, a fourteen year old son, is non-verbal due to autism. Bill’s older daughter, who will turn 30 this summer, still lives with Ex and has supposedly devoted her life to caring for her brother, who will likely never be able to live on his own. Meanwhile, whenever Ex gets pissed off at older daughter, she threatens to throw her out of the house, even though older daughter does the heavy lifting involved with caring for Ex’s son. Sounds a lot like what Tyler went through with his mom.

Incidentally, Tyler went back to his mom’s house about a week after he moved out to pick up his stuff. All of his belongings were thrown out on the front lawn, where they soon became covered with snow. He still hopes that his mother’s Trump fervor will fade and he will eventually be able to reconcile with her. He said, “I just don’t see the humanity in this. I wanted my family back, not this hatred.”

For Tyler’s sake, I truly hope he can reconnect with his mom. I hope she is, deep down, a reasonable and decent person who can grow up and wise up, and see what she stands to lose by continuing to submit to the QAnon bullshit. I don’t know what made her fall down the rabbit hole, but it would not surprise me if Tyler’s mom had some trauma in her life that somehow made her feel ostracized and persecuted. And the siren call of QAnon, which is full of butthurt delusional people must have been much too hard to resist– so hard that she’s willing to kick her own son out of her life.

It’s not that I don’t empathize with the abused. I have no doubt in my mind that my husband’s ex wife was severely abused by many people when she was a child. I can understand why she’s so traumatized. What I can’t abide is her habit of throwing away family members and forcing her children and husbands to disconnect with those of whom she doesn’t approve. It’s possible, or even probable, that Tyler’s new stepfather is partly to blame for Tyler’s mother’s actions. However, reading that he has only now reconnected with his father and his father and stepmother, who have apparently been together long enough to have a seven year old daughter, have welcomed him into their home, gives me a feeling that Tyler’s mom has some serious issues. And those issues, like Ex’s, make her vulnerable to falling into cults from which they never escape.

Sadly, more often than not, the best thing to do in such a situation is go no contact and cut all ties. I don’t think younger daughter has gone completely no contact yet, but she has definitely come out of the F.O.G. since she moved away from Ex. As hard as that is, and as sad as it initially was, in the long run, it’s the only way to find peace, autonomy, and freedom from chaos and drama.

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complaints, condescending twatbags, rants, social media, stupid people

“No means no”… being assertive is not a crime.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about how I don’t apologize for occasionally being an “asshole”. Looking back on it, I think I should amend that title. You see, I was raised in an environment in which I was somehow taught that being assertive is an affront to other people. I’m not sure where it comes from, either. My mom and my sisters are all assertive people. My dad was, too. But I was the youngest, raised by a southern, conservative, religious, Air Force veteran who insisted that I needed to have “respect” for him. I am naturally a bit obnoxious and outspoken, and as a child, I often got chastised for being myself. I think the end result is that, as an adult, sometimes I hesitate to stick up for myself when it’s perfectly fine to do so. Sometimes, I even feel guilty for “talking back”.

In that “asshole” post I wrote the other day, I wrote about two incidents in which I found myself at odds with conservative white men on Facebook. The first incident was regarding a guy who, five days after I posted a response to a friend on her Facebook page, decided he needed to confront me about my comment. When he demanded an explanation from me, I responded “You should have asked me five days ago.”

Most people would understand from that comment that I am not interested in engaging. But this guy is clearly pretty dense. Because he came back with a snarky comment, not taking the hint that I wasn’t going to be arguing with him. Again, my response was very clear. I wrote something along the lines of, “I have zero desire to talk to you. Leave me alone.” Most people, having been firmly asked to leave someone alone, will back off and find someone else to bother.

That wasn’t enough for this person, though. He continued to try to engage, and asked me why I had responded to him. And I asked him, “Why did you? I responded to this thread days ago. Just let it go.” Again– clear as day. I was saying “no” to him. He engaged a fourth time and I wrote, “Give it up.” After the next comment, I finally hit the block button. I don’t actually like to block people, but sometimes it’s necessary. And yes, I realize I could have just ignored him, but that would leave him free to keep tagging me in posts.

The sad thing is, he probably thinks he’s “won” by being so annoying and disrespectful that I finally felt the need to force him to leave me alone. If that’s how he gets his kicks, I guess I’m happy to oblige in helping him. I have to wonder about guys like him. Why can’t they simply respect another person when they clearly ask them to stop harassing them?

Before I blocked him, I took a look at the guy’s page. People always do this, don’t they? You get into a scrape with someone and you check out their Facebook page just to see where they’re coming from. From a few seconds of looking at his page, I learned that this gentleman is conservative politically, lives in the Midwest, and is divorced. If this is how he treats strangers on the Internet, I can see why he’s divorced. He clearly doesn’t have any respect for other people. I suspect that he doesn’t respect women, especially. Anyone who isn’t a Trump supporter ranks even lower.

It might have been fun to resort to insulting the guy, but it was clear he was playing a power game with me. And I didn’t want to play. I made it very clear that I didn’t want to play, even before the temptation to resort to insults arose. I didn’t want to waste time and energy coming up with clever insults against someone who obviously doesn’t respect me as a person. I can see on the other thread he engaged in, he doesn’t respect other women, either.

Next thing I knew, I was ruminating about what kind of upbringing this guy must have had. What was his mother like? Where did he learn this habit of trying to force women into arguments with him, demanding that they defend their opinions when they’ve made it abundantly clear they aren’t interested? Is he like this when it comes to his offline relationships, too? Does he demand that his romantic partners engage with him, even when they’ve made it very clear that they want to be left alone?

This clearly applies to sexual assault and rape. It also applies to interactions online.

Maybe that might seem like a stretch to some. Men who are very overbearing and insistent toward women, hectoring them in an attempt to force them to interact, may only be that way in a verbal sense. But as I sat there pondering this person’s disrespectful actions toward me, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d go as far as to assault a woman for saying “no” to his advances. Assuming he’s not gay, I wonder what he does when she says she’s got a headache or isn’t in the mood. Is he going to keep nagging, whining, and badgering until he finally tries to take what he wants by physical force?

I suspect what this guy really wants is attention. He might even be horrified that I wonder if he’s capable of rape. It seems to me, though, that if a woman clearly says “no” and a man keeps poking, it’s not that much of a leap to assume that person has serious issues with boundaries, much like rapists do. If someone can’t respect a person who clearly asks to be left alone, even if it’s just online, what are they like when the objects of their attention are within an arm’s reach of them? Hopefully, they are a little less bold about “reaching out” in that case. I still wonder, though.

Maybe I should have asked him if he has boundary issues offline, too? Imagine the reaction I would have gotten if I had asked him if he makes a habit out of ignoring people who ask him to stop bugging them. What if I’d thrown in an insane or accusatory comment about sexual assault? He probably would have reacted with outrage, and there would have been a huge shitshow, which no doubt would have attracted a lot of lurkers and comments. But I suspect that would have only made me look unhinged and caused offense. I think it’s a fair question, though. If someone explicitly makes a reasonable request to be left alone, and another person refuses to honor that request, it says something loud and clear about the person who won’t take “no” for an answer.

Which brings me to my next point… One of the reasons I didn’t want to engage with this guy is because he was pestering me on a mutual friend’s page. I don’t know the boundary challenged guy at all. I also haven’t met our mutual friend offline, but she and I both like horses. That’s how we have a connection. We “met” on a second wives and stepmothers Web site we both used to frequent. I don’t pay much attention to most of her political posts, but the one that I did comment on had triggered me because of a grammar error. Otherwise, I let her post whatever she wants to about Trump and Limbaugh, without any input whatsoever from me. I’m mainly interested in her ponies, goats, donkey, and horses, and that’s about it.

Boundary challenged guy probably knows her personally, and they obviously have a stronger bond. I don’t feel comfortable having pointless arguments with mutual friends on other people’s Facebook pages. I figure that kind of drama should be hosted on one of the involved parties’ pages, unless the “host” gives their express permission. Also, it was pretty clear to me that his mind is made up on matters involving conservative politics. My mind is also made up. You will never convince me that Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh have done great things for America. So there’s no point in having a discussion. But really, when it comes down to it, I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my opinions. When I say “no”, I mean it.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not still sometimes hard to say it. I still sit here after a confrontation like that and ruminate, asking myself “WTF?” I mean, if I had known that leaving a comment for my friend was going to result in an uninvited correspondence with one of her friends, I surely would have kept scrolling. I find myself scrolling a lot lately… which makes me wonder why I haven’t ditched Facebook yet. I stick around for the people I know around the world who I enjoy keeping up with. But every year, with every unpleasant or unnecessary negative interaction I have with some stranger online, I wonder again if keeping up with my friends is worth it. Then I contemplate kicking more people off my page. 🙂

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nostalgia, politicians, politics, Trump

I was right again…

This morning, I was looking through my Facebook memories, when I came across this post from 2018…

I have about had my fill of Trump supporters. It’s not about conservatives vs. liberals. Donald Trump seriously doesn’t give two shits about anyone but himself. It makes me sad to see people defending him, either willfully ignorant or just plain ignorant. I normally don’t care about politics or politicians, but he truly is a scumbag who seems hellbent on humiliating the most vulnerable people. It sickens me to see people cheering that on, especially since they seem to think he will do something for them. He won’t. He is a narcissist, and he does not care about anyone but himself. He’s basically akin to a reptile.

I have known some decent conservatives in my day. I used to vote Republican myself. Trump just turns my stomach. He’s destined to be a blight on our history.

As I reread this post this morning, I realize that I was spot on in 2018. Why other people didn’t see it, and still don’t see it, I will never know. I think some folks just hate to admit they’re wrong. And some people are secretly not good.

What prompted that post? Based on the original comments, it was inspired by an article that was run in the newspaper I used to read when I lived in Gloucester, Virginia. At the time, Donald Trump was talking about replacing SNAP cards (aka food stamps) with meal boxes. I read the article, then some of the comments. I got upset, and wrote this as an explanation.

…this status was inspired by comments I read last night in the Daily Press about Trump’s new food box idea. A couple of people commenting were people I used to know when I lived in Gloucester. I grew up in a small community among many conservatives. I was raised by conservative people– well, mainly my dad was conservative. Mom is less so. I know these people are not horrible folks deep down. But some of their comments on that article were just sickening. I never noticed this mindset as much before Trump came to power. It’s like he’s awakened all of the most base and vile instincts in certain populations and some people have become downright cruel. I find it depressing and had to vent. Thanks to those who took the time to read and comment. I’m particularly grateful to see the comments here are respectful, which is all I could ever ask for.

It seems that a lot of Trump supporters assume that anyone who needs food assistance is “taking advantage”. And so, they liked the food box idea. It would put a stop to the mythical “welfare queens” buying steak and lobster with their EBT cards. Beggars can’t be choosers, right? It doesn’t matter if the recipient can’t use or doesn’t want the food put in the boxes. Let’s just humiliate them as much as possible. If you’re broke, it’s obviously YOUR fault.

I used to have a “friend” who felt that anyone receiving food aid should be compelled to use the money on “healthy” food. She felt that since people were receiving taxpayer money (never mind that anyone who’s ever worked has paid into that fund), should have to buy what she considers “good food choices”. That means no birthday cake, sugary cereal, or soda.

On the surface, I can kind of see what she means. I’d love for people to eat healthier, and since the people receiving food aid are clearly broke, we need to keep them healthy so they won’t get a chronic disease that will put them in the hospital. Except that government food aid is not forever, and it doesn’t buy much. Recipients must regularly prove they need the help. And not everyone who needs a SNAP card has access to a good grocery store or even a kitchen. Sometimes, a frozen burrito that can be microwaved is the best choice simply because the person doesn’t have the time or the facilities to prepare a nice homemade pot of vegetable soup or brown rice. Sometimes people have allergies or religious restrictions that don’t allow certain foods. Sometimes people have special occasions they’d like to celebrate. Why is it anyone else’s business? Does being poor mean that a person can’t choose what he or she wants to eat?

I suspect some folks think that anyone who ends up “poor” has bad judgment. They don’t consider that sometimes very successful and intelligent people end up needing temporary help. My husband was once poor. When I met him, he was living on $600 a month, because he was sending the rest of his money to his ex wife and kids. He certainly didn’t need some conservative asshole telling him to eat a salad instead of a bowl of Sugar Smacks. But some people think that’s what’s required. For the record, Bill wasn’t getting food aid at that time. He mostly survived on per diem payments he got while traveling. At that time, he was lucky enough to have a job where he had to go TDY a lot. It was before we were married.

I see that I vented about this issue three years ago in my original blog. In that piece, I included these photos:

The people who came up with the food box idea tried to frame it in a way that almost sounded caring. They didn’t want people getting sick on rich, sugary foods that aren’t nutritious. The government would save money and people would be getting “healthy” (but simple carb heavy) foods instead of money on EBT cards that they can’t be trusted to spend appropriately. Carbs keep people compliant. They made it sound akin to a program like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. BUT– unlike those meal kits, the USDA kits would not contain fresh fruits or vegetables. And the Hello Fresh and Blue Apron kits usually cost about $10 per meal, while the USDA kit would cost about $1.37. So it’s a win/win, right? The government saves money, and people get food. Never mind that some people won’t be able to prepare a pot of beans because they lack the facilities or have a disability that makes food preparation difficult.

But Trump doesn’t even have the humanity to try to frame the program in such a way. I think he thinks of the poor as “losers”, and they should just be happy with whatever scraps the government deigns to throw at them and shut the fuck up. For some participants, the food box program ended up being a bit of a flop, anyway, although some people were happy with the program. People did try to warn Trump that the food boxes weren’t a good fit for everyone.

I ended up unfollowing the Daily Press because of the comments that were written by the people who live in that part of Virginia. I just could not stomach reading them. There was just too much ignorance and meanness. One comment was written by a former neighbor of mine. I’m sure she doesn’t remember me, but I once went to a school dance with her son. Sadly, he passed away when he was 15 years old. He had a brain tumor. I remember her daughter, who is now married to the brother of a good friend of mine. They all still live in Gloucester. Many of them still hate poor people and love Trump.

Of course, in 2018, I had no idea what was to come… a poorly handled pandemic, an insurrection, and a second impeachment. Nevertheless, I wrote this:

To be honest, I never hated any politician before I encountered Trump. He makes my skin crawl. I hate what he’s doing to otherwise decent people, too, who are buying into his bullshit. I had to stop following the newspaper I have read my whole life because I could not stand to read the Trump inspired drivel in the comments. It was too depressing for me to see people that I know are basically decent falling into Trump’s disgusting plans for the country and cheering about it.

And for the Facebook post on the Daily Press, I wrote this:

And then I posted the status that leads today’s post. I didn’t know what was coming. I was depressed enough about Trump in 2018. Now, it looks like he could get away with egging on an insurrection. And people are still hoping that he’ll come back and run for office again!

But– as I write this, I do realize that we have a new president now. Joe Biden has brought some decency back into the U.S. presidency. So why can’t I relax? Because I feel like the past four years has just been a prelude to something worse. I know the basic type of person Trump is. When you deal with narcissists, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I feel like the whole world has been dealing with a harassing narcissist for four years. And the clueless have championed him the whole time. Now, we read about politicians who have decided to get off the Trump train… people like Nikki Haley and Kevin McCarthy and even Mitch McConnell, who once kissed Trump’s ass and are now finding out that he’s utterly devoid of regard for anyone but himself.

I am pretty proud of Virginia, though… Virginia has finally gone blue. I know it pisses off a lot of people from my hometown. But to me, it’s a sign that the tide is turning somewhat. I get being conservative, but there’s a difference between being fiscally conservative and being inhumane. Trump is inhumane and dangerous. I hope the Senate does the right thing and convicts him. I doubt they will, but I have hope. Otherwise, the message is that a lame duck president can pull whatever outrageous bullshit they want to and get away with it. Hopefully, we will never again have one as narcissistic and hateful as Trump is.

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