I recently turned 25. One quarter of a century has passed, and life is starting to get real, real fast. Peers and colleagues have told me I will love 25; I’m not viewed anymore as the young reckless late teen, have gained more respect than the young twenty-something, and am closer to my late twenties – which most view as a final sign of adulthood. What I did not realize was how all those clichés of growing older are true. I am now a week past a quarter of a century, and have learned yet another invaluable life lesson.
I have an addiction to stating what I believe is right and wrong, publicly (usually on the Internet) and without regard for whom the person I believe to be wrong or right is, their relationship to others, their job, status, children, etc. If I see someone state, post or write something that I am confused with, need clarification on, or believe needs to be challenged, I just say so. I grew up with the belief that it is my fundamental right to offer a differing of opinion, (and I’m a sucker for advocating for the underdog). What I was never told is that most of the time, when you exercise this right, you get attacked, versus respected.
Recently I suggested an idea on my Facebook page that we stop name calling and act civil when we are debating an issue online. For example, during the government shutdown I suggested that we stop lashing out at one another on Facebook and instead unify to agree that everyone messed up and that we need a solution. I was sick of people picking out every person they know to be right wing or left wing and berating them as though, they, personally declared the government cease work at once.
I thought this post was very generalized and neutral, the word “nice” even came to mind, but more than are few of my Facebook “friends” took this post personally, and I was attacked online for my idea.
I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t offer any political opinion, especially during a time of political turmoil.
More recently, I came across a post on Facebook about an incident in my town. The post asked that if anyone had any information, questions or an opinion, to comment.
So, naturally, I did. The context of this post is not what is important, but basically this person wanted any and all pertinent information to piece together a string of events.
I took this at face value, and determined it would be appropriate if I commented on the post, but before I did I read the other comments. More name calling. The post had an underlying political nature and many people had been hurt and frustrated due to the events this post addressed, but what I could not understand was why one person present at these events was being singled out and referred to as “trashy”.
I tried to remain neutral. I offered up the suggestion that we give the man in question the benefit of the doubt by assuming he had a job to do, instructed to do so by his higher authority, and a duty to fulfill in a timely manner. I used polite and eloquent language, careful to address others with their appropriate title, and I tried to resort from name calling.
The mere point of my comment was to ask others to refrain from name calling, instead ask questions, and remain open minded. In doing so, I personally offended two people, one of whom attacked me. After a slew of banter I was accused of spewing hearsay, slander and told that “Perhaps I should try volunteering my time to help the needy, or even donate”, when in fact, I do just that. I ceded back to my addiction and defended myself tooth and nail.
I understand this person was experiencing an upheaval of emotions during an unfortunate time for a friend, and that this person was looking to take out some frustration in some way. I never meant for any of my comments to be taken so personally.
I guess I was just hoping my idealistic youth would shine through and maybe, just maybe we could all agree that name calling isn’t the right way to go about things. Adulthood is rough, and the name calling on the playground never stops, just the venue changes. Life lesson learned.