Rapid Fire Response   2 comments

If you know me personally, some of what I am going to write here will not be new information, but at the same time it’s not something I have ever really talked about or shared in writing. And it’s probably not going to be what you think it is.

I have realized over the past few years that despite (or perhaps because of) the vast quantity of words that come out of my mouth on a fairly regular basis, I don’t really say much of anything. At least not much of anything important.

While my beliefs about religious freedom, equality – gender, religious, and racial – and discrimination, gun control, and laws that others want to make telling me what I can and can’t do with my body are carefully thought out and deeply held, I am not good at articulating them. I know what I believe, I simply can’t explain why.  It’s kind of like telling a non-techie why their computer doesn’t work, then asking them to explain it to a third person.  (I see this all the time at work.)  A lot of stammering goes on.

This might be because I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself and my feelings (see all previous posts about the issues in my marriage). Or it might be because I don’t like loathe conflict. When someone challenges my belief systems, I literally (and, yes, I am aware of the meaning of the word) freeze up and become unable to respond.

Why am I bringing this up? I’m so glad you asked.

I unfriended someone on Facebook today. Not someone I am currently close to, but someone I have known since I was three or four years old. There was no fanfare, no battle royale, no argument. Just a letting go of a friendship that really ended long ago.

Throughout this extremely contentious election season, I have mostly sat on the sidelines with my beliefs – except for mild comment I made to someone who is still a friendbecause I get that not all my friends and family agree with my politics and that everyone is entitled under our constitution to have and express their own opinions about what they think is the right direction for our country. (Even if I think they are wrong. I figure since they probably think I am wrong, this makes us square.)

The comment that pushed me over the ‘unfriend’ line wasn’t even that bad. It was neither racist, homophobic, nor misogynistic, and it didn’t mention walls, keeping Muslims out of the country, deporting people, or health care. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something about Democrats now know how Republicans felt when President Obama was re-elected in 2012 – “the Dow was even lower then” – worded in a ‘so there!’ kind of tone.

It made my blood boil.

What I thought was: “Really? When Barack Obama was voted back into office you were afraid for your child and family because you are a member of a minority religion that has a history of being persecuted and attacked?”– if you haven’t heard, there has already been anti-Semitic graffiti found in South Philadelphia – or “You mean the re-election of a Democrat made you fear you might not be able to get health insurance ever again because of a pre-existing condition?” orThe current president’s second term made you scared that politicians rather than you and your doctor might decide what reproductive rights you have?” or “You mean you’re scared the government might try to invalidate your same-sex marriage?” Because I’m pretty sure none of those things were on his list.

Or at least that was what I came up with later, after the unfriend button had already been pushed.

I realized after I had thought of all these great rejoinders that even if I had come up with them before I eliminated this person from my newsfeed, I most likely wouldn’t have sent them anyway.

Because I’m kind of a coward. This isn’t something I am proud of, but I am most definitely aware of it. I don’t take chances, I don’t go out on a limb, I prefer not to offend people, and I don’t put myself in situations where I am going to get yelled at. See, I don’t just loathe conflict. It scares the hell out of me, and I will go really, really far out of my way to avoid it. And this election cycle was chock-a-block full of conflict on the news, in the papers, and all over the internet. And, regardless of the nice words both candidates have spouted over the past twenty-four hours, I’m not sure I see it ending any time soon.

I don’t know where this fear comes from. My parents weren’t and aren’t the fly-off-the-handle yelling type, my ex and I rarely fought (and, yes, I know now that wasn’t a good thing since we almost never seemed to talk about anything important either), and at work I would rather try to head an issue off before it becomes a problem or, if that doesn’t work, passively-aggressively complain about it for months until it either works itself out or dies a lonely death.

I respect people who are able to calmly and rationally discuss hot-button issues because I know that will never be me. It’s the same thing I found when I was in school. I earned good grades and did well on standardized tests because I was a good student. I could absorb and regurgitate facts on demand. But assignments that required coming up with original thoughts, concepts, or interpretations were painful beyond belief. (Funny for an English major but does nicely explain why I am a Formalist critic; ask if you want to know what that is. Otherwise, just take my word for it.)

So, for me, the unfriending was a big move. I may never have the courage – or the words – to explain why something matters to me. But, for once, I didn’t just sit and let the comment hang in the air. I acted. Would responding have been a better act? Probably, but it was a start. Maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to do more than simply protect myself. We’ll see.

For now, I’m simply going to sit back and hope people will be able to find some common ground over the next four years. I’m sure it will be interesting.

 

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Posted November 9, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

2 responses to “Rapid Fire Response

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  1. For me the issue is the after-the-fact timing of it. It’s like when you think of the perfect comeback… three days later… And was the explanation about the reviewing I gave sufficient? I could always dig out some of my really old English papers if you’re interested. 😉

  2. wow — For not being able to SAY the words, you have come up with a very compelling way of WRITING the words — I can not do either, it is just the gut feeling when something is wrong but no way of really communicating that. And what is that sort of reviewing? 🙂

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