Good morning, y’all. It’s a sunny morning here in Germany, and I’ve just posted a new travel post about our visit to Visby, Sweden. Bill’s birthday is tomorrow, and he’s asked me to bake his favorite cake– Blackout Cake with ganache– for which I have a fabulous recipe. I think I won his heart when I baked him that cake the first time, over twenty years ago. I don’t make it often these days. There are only two of us and it takes forever to finish the cake, even though it stays fresh for a long time. But, since he asked me so nicely, I’ll make him one, and he can share it with his buddies at work.
Speaking of buddies… this morning, I was reading through old Facebook memories, and I noticed that three years ago, when COVID was in full swing and suckitude, I posted about receiving an unsolicited PM from a Facebook “friend”. At the time, I had posted on my page about not being in full agreement of the face mask mandates that were going on then. My “friend” apparently wanted to make a rather cowardly statement to me, disagreeing with my opinions. So she sent me a meme without comment. Naturally, I wrote a blog post about it.
I didn’t unfriend the person who sent that, by the way. I DID unfriend a mutual “friend” we both knew from our days on the “pink” second wives and stepmothers Web site, where we met years ago. That was actually long in coming, as this person always seemed to have kind of a negative, derisive, and purposely misunderstanding attitude toward me. She seemed to follow me just so she could privately snark on me with her more genuine friends, who probably agreed with her apparent opinion that I’m an asshole. I figured she and her “friends” got their jollies making fun of me.
When our mutual friend sent me the rude meme about anti-maskers with no comment, I posted a public query about it, asking why someone would do that. I mean… you have your own page, right? Why not post it on your own page? Or, if you are going to send such things via PM (a practice I don’t like, by the way), at least have the stones to explain yourself?
Sending me that unsolicited message was very passive aggressive, stupid, and obnoxious. I don’t know what her point was, but her meme didn’t change my mind. It just made me think a lot less of her for not having the broadness of intellect to have a rational discussion. People who post memes and pictures of crying babies and such, as a way of silencing others whose views don’t align with theirs, are just showing everybody that they aren’t critical thinkers, interested in having a rational discussion. The other person might not change your mind, but maybe hearing them out might broaden your perspective on certain topics.
In my venting blog post about that incident, I clarified that just because I didn’t have great faith in the efficacy of face masks, that didn’t mean I broke the rules. Yes, I wore masks properly when they were required. I simply didn’t think they were that effective, nor did I wear them with cheer or enthusiasm. I had what I think are very good reasons for feeling the way I did, and they were based on common sense and science. I’m not stupid, particularly when it comes to public health. I have a master’s degree from an accredited university in the subject. A real friend would have known that, right? Or at least they wouldn’t insinuate that I need “special help” by sending me a fucking meme via PM.
My method of dealing with COVID in the early days of the pandemic was to… STAY HOME! And stay away from other people! This makes me an inconsiderate asshole who deserves to get this rude message in my PMs? Wasn’t it better to NOT go out in public in July 2020, than to go out in public while wearing a mask that probably hadn’t been changed in weeks? I thought so… but apparently, just because I wasn’t a mask booster, my “friend” thought I needed the below message in my PMs. Well, fuck her.
If I recall correctly, I didn’t even respond directly to the person who sent this to me. But now that I’m reading it again, my impulse is to comment that if you have something you want to say to someone, be a grown up and just say it. Especially if you’re calling yourself a “friend”. I feel like real friends are in such short supply!
I don’t want to rehash this particular incident too much, especially since we’re currently beyond the mask mandates. On my vacation, virtually no one was wearing masks. I saw only a small number of people donning them. I know COVID is still out there, but all of a sudden, the self-righteous have retreated back into the hum drum beats of their former lives. They no longer feel compelled to send rude, passive-aggressive, unnecessary memes to their “friends” via PM, insinuating that they’re self-centered assholes, simply because they disagree with popular views about controversial issues like face masks. I mean, that person didn’t even take the time to ask me why I felt the way I did. She just sent that meme with no comment whatsoever.
What I really want to comment on is how polarized people have become in recent years. For most of my life, I felt like I could co-exist with people with whom I had disagreements. I mean, yeah, I’d probably not want to associate with someone whose views were extremely offensive to me and taboo, although I would like to think that I’d want to know why they felt they way they did. But I wouldn’t automatically shitcan someone I thought of as a friend simply because we had different religious or political views. I would like to think that I could have an honest and basically respectful conversation with an actual friend about my opinions, even if we disagreed. I thought that was what friends were for… to have regard for one another and care about them as individual people.
A few months after the meme spam incident, I got in another dust up with a former friend over Mike Pence and Donald Trump. This person was someone I knew offline and once had a lot of respect for, as we used to work together. She was upset because I expressed something positive about Mike Pence. My former friend is a lesbian, and she apparently thinks that anyone on her friends list has to hate the people she hates. I don’t like Mike Pence. I’d certainly NEVER vote for him. But I was glad to see that he showed up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, like a grown up. I was glad that he didn’t do Trump’s bidding and try to overturn the 2020 election. I saw nothing wrong with stating that on my own fucking Facebook page.
My former friend got angry with me, though. The straw that broke the camel’s back was that I bought a Donald Trump toilet brush. Even buying a Trump toilet brush– to clean shit stains out of the toilet— was an extreme act of disloyalty and disrespect to her. She actually blocked me over it. WTF!
I really do try to understand and respect people’s perspectives. All I ask is that my real friends try to respect me enough to understand why I feel the way I do. You can hear what I have to say without insisting that I change my views for you. Don’t we all have the right to think for ourselves? I mean, if it’s an issue that you simply can’t budge on and it’s a deal breaker, okay. But why the knee jerk response? Can you not spare a minute to consider before you just throw people away?
I don’t blame people for not wanting to have anything to do with someone like– say– Josh Duggar, or his ilk. And yet, I think that even Josh Duggar deserves a little consideration beyond disgust. He’s certainly very gross, but he’s not the worst person who ever lived. And while he definitely belongs in prison because he’s done vile, reprehensible, criminal things, there were also things that happened to him that helped put him where he is.
I can have some empathy for that reality, and still not think Josh Duggar is a good person, right? I don’t have to hate him just because everyone else apparently does. There are very few people I actually hate… and I have very personal reasons for hating them. They did something bad to me, or to someone I love. Of course I disdain Josh Duggar for what and who he is, but I don’t hate him. I don’t care about him enough for that.
I’d say most people can’t abide someone who has some kind of inappropriate proclivity. Bring up the subject, and people don’t even think twice about it. They immediately denounce the intrinsic value of someone who has these inappropriate proclivities. They won’t even discuss it for a minute. For example– bringing up Josh Duggar again– they think people like him should just be taken out and shot in the head.
It never occurs to them that Josh may do vile things, but he’s still someone’s son, brother, husband, and father, and he has worth to someone in the world. They also don’t consider that someday, they might have the misfortune of having a family member with these obsessions, and there is precious little that can be done to help them. They can’t even safely seek help from a mental health professional about a problem like that. Admitting to having such a problem will end with people scorning them. It would ruin their lives. They might as well commit suicide. If someone like Josh did attempt suicide and was stopped before it could happen, and then explained why they did it, what would the authorities do? Would they say, “Oh, in that case, maybe you really should off yourself. Here’s my pistol.”? I would think they wouldn’t say that, but in this day and age, one never knows.
You see, I do think about these things. I think it’s a valid thing to do. And because I think about these things, I often have opinions that don’t neatly align with the popular views. But in today’s world, I can’t always express my true and honest opinions, even though they are usually based on deep thought and consideration, because most people have an opinion that does align with a popular view, and they haven’t thought as much about it. Or, even if they have thought about it, they refuse to consider another view. They have very black and white thinking.
One last example of what I mean before I close this post…
Back in 2020, Mary Kay LeTourneau died of cancer. Mary Kay, as you might know, was an infamous child molester. She had a sexual relationship with a boy she had taught second and six grades to, even giving birth to his two daughters. Mary Kay did time in prison for her crime, but after she was released, she married her former student. They were married for about twelve years or so, divorcing because her second husband (long since an adult) wanted to run a marijuana farm and couldn’t do so while he was married to an ex-convict. When Mary Kay died of cancer in 2020, her former student/victim/ex husband was by her side.
Even though I do NOT understand how and why Mary Kay LeTourneau did what she did, and I do think it was right for her to go to prison, it’s also clear to me that her victim didn’t think of himself as a victim. So I expressed condolences to him, and to Mary Kay’s children (she had seven), because even though she did criminal things, she was still their loved one. Do you know, I got called a “rape apologist” for that? Because I didn’t completely denounce and vilify Mary Kay LeTourneau, and see her as nothing more than a disgusting lower life form who victimizes children? I got labeled as a “rape apologist”, as if I actually condone rape, simply because I acknowledged that even though she did illegal and criminal things to a child, she was still herself a human being. And I felt her victim’s feelings about her were a hell of a lot more important than my uninformed opinions about what she did. Most people are more than their worst action in life, right?
But this is a conversation I can’t have with most people… not even my so-called “friends”. I can have it with Bill, because Bill is a kind, reasonable person who also doesn’t mind thinking for himself, and discussing hard issues. Most people aren’t like that, though. They’d rather disrespect and discard people who don’t have the same views they have, and dare to admit it out loud. They don’t want to be challenged by contrary opinions, and they think anyone who isn’t on their team politically or otherwise is someone to just toss away like trash.
I don’t think it’s right to demand that people surrender their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions to fit in with the status quo. I think everyone should be free to own their own minds, and express themselves freely, especially when they do it with reason. One of the reasons I quit hanging around on RfM so much is because there are a few notorious posters there who hammer people over the head with their views, which they seem to think are superior to everyone else’s. They lob insults at people who have different thoughts, insisting that their perspectives are the only ones. It’s hard to have a real conversation with people like that, so I don’t tend to bother trying anymore.
I’m always interested in hearing other people’s views, as long as they are presented respectfully and with reason. And if I consider someone a friend, I don’t automatically ditch them, simply over a disagreement. If I have something to say to them, I try to do it in an honorable way.
As I put it in that post I wrote about my mask shaming “friend”…
I’m getting to a point in my life at which I value quality over quantity. A lot of people don’t like me. Many people decide they don’t like me having never taken the time to get to know me. That’s up to them, of course, and I’ve gotten used to it. I still have some great people in my life who do love me for who I am and don’t mind that I speak my mind. We treat each other with basic respect and give each other the right to be heard. We don’t try to stir up drama on each other’s social media accounts or offline. And when we have something to say, we say it. We don’t do immature passive aggressive digs or make fun of each other. Those aren’t things a real friend does.
This is still how I feel three years later. In fact, I think I feel even more like this today, mainly because of what I’ve been watching happen to our society. People have lost their damned minds. I feel like the best way to hold onto mine is not to get too swept up in group think, or feeling like I have to go along with the crowd in order to keep my “friends”. If my friends want me to keep quiet, they aren’t really my friends. They’re just people who up the hit count on my friends list. No thank you for that…