No Offense

Happy Hump Day – the last one for March 2018! Time, relatively speaking, seems to have flown by in the first three months of this year. It is already the end of March and the baseball regular season is set to begin tomorrow (Thursday, March 29th); so that is something to be excited and enthused about for the short-term. But twirling in this everyday grind of adulting, things are so much lather, rinse and repeat. Obviously for the hygiene-conscious people this has a literal translation but also in the cosmic sense of full-time adult life of having to work to support family and a life style – it applies there too.

For those who have a car or a transportation schedule and show up with some regularity at a workplace, you probably understand what I mean by my opening paragraph. For many of us, the prospect of having to ‘punch in’ and work 40+ hours of your life away every week is about as appealing as a blind-folded forty yard dash bare-footed over a course scattered with Lego pieces. Now I’ve gone and done it, I’ve probably offended someone who loves Legos. Which brings me to today’s topic…

I remember a time growing up where people pretty much said whatever they felt like saying  – good and bad. If you didn’t like it, guess what,  you didn’t have a virtual army of social media thugs to get your back. For the most part you just had to ‘get over it’. But as the Pac-Man machines started being swapped out for Deer Hunting simulators and Golden Tee games, so too society stopped ‘getting over’ things. Every day now, a hypothetical person rolling their eyes or an ill-timed cough is construed and misconstrued with fervor on all platforms of social media. Speaking as someone who was frequently bullied through my school years, I learned to have a bit of a thicker skin. I couldn’t go crying to the parents in high school that the class president and star running back of the football team habitually threated to kick my butt if I was dumb enough to hang out in close enough proximity to him and his jock buddies. Instead crying about it to the masses (who did not care) I learned to channel those feelings of helplessness and frustration into other avenues to distract me. Those avenues and vices served me well as I was counting down the days on the calendar until I could be away from those situations.

Today those same bullies are reincarnated in different bodies and those same social molds. It’s kind of like when Hollywood takes a long dormant TV franchise and recasts the characters to reboot the series. It’s awkward and familiar and equally as hard to watch. But like many things, it’s just part of growing up; it’s something that influences and shapes all people. Now the ugly part: talking about uncomfortable things in a straightforward setting. Bullying is awful and unfair. But whoever said life was fair? Before you start the rabble to riot, no this is not a PSA to encourage bullyment  (I don’t think that is a word but you get the drift).

Obviously kids and adults alike face many day to day challenges. Disagreeing with someone or not getting your way is 90% of hourly life as we know it. But remember when America used to be about freedom of speech? Yes I used the past tense to talk about freedom of speech. Now that concept no longer exists. Yes it is true that you can say pretty much whatever you want to…but be prepared to be crucified for it. If you come out as a proponent of something, no matter how benign, the throngs of detractors will vilify you. If you say you love rainy days, someone will read into that statement that you want to rain on everyone’s potential parade. The glass is half full mentality just hurts my brain but it’s everywhere and spreading like that green fungus on aging bread.

Somehow over the years, the planet Earth turned into a home for 6 billion lawyers. Everything that is heard, read or viewed gets praised or criticized to death (read dissected). In the last three elections, the ‘winning’ presidential candidate received less than 55% of the popular vote. And yes I did put ‘winning’ in quotes. Sorry to say this is not a shout out to Charlie Sheen. Instead it is a sarcastic reference to today’s negative trolling culture where  the ‘winner’ of the election became the ultimate loser. When I was much younger, being the president of the United States used to be a regal, proud title of office. Now it’s a side show of hate polls and wasted millions of dollars on government inquiries over tabloid-level accusations. So many things in our society garner daily outrage and then tomorrow are forgotten in wake of the next short attention span (SAS) front-burner issue.

Granted there are some serious issues and situations that are legit and valid and should be on law enforcement agendas. However, people should once again be able to speak freely (judge them if you want, you will regardless). We the people need to take the words we see daily at face value and stop with all the innuendo and implied subtext that 75% of the time is not intended. And for the 25% of the time where there are snipes and underlying meanings present: so what? Put on your big person underwear or borrow some if your dirty laundry leaves you without any and move on. If people are not committing legit crimes or trying to influence others to act with violence or commit related crimes, then leave them be. Like my mom taught me at an early age when confronted by a bully: Just walk away. It’s that simple. Just walk away. If they won’t let you walk away, then and only then defend yourself or figure out a way to leave the situation without escalating it for no reason. So many people tend to insinuate themselves into discussions and escalate situations that don’t even remotely have to do with them because they feel self-righteous and think that everyone ‘needs’ to have their perspective. Here’s a clue: Mostly they don’t. Unless you are specifically tapped to offer your viewpoint under oath, shut it.

I know in some circles this piece probably won’t be well received and I am OK with that. I’m not offended by that. People disagree with me all the time. But the difference is I can accept that and not turn it into a race thing or another unrelated accusation because I didn’t get the validation I think I deserve. People sometimes share their points of view with me and their case may have strong points or be flawed. Likely their argument will change nothing unless they present a huge nugget of information that I may have previously been ignorant to in forming my opinion(s). Also I think a sliver of the splinter to this ‘everything offends everyone’ time in our history is how things are said and how the arguments are volleyed. If you have to resort to name-calling, profanity and degradation to win your argument – then your argument must not be all that strong and solid. When this piece ends, I will turn the page and move on to the next topic I like and contemplate internally if I think I made my strongest points. Regardless of how those points are received, I will move and and look for memes with cute cats to cleanse my pallet.

In saying that I like cat memes, I may encounter a dog person who will probably say cat people are stupid. If so I will not be offended. In truth I am sure there are some cat people who are in fact stupid. But I will reject the absolute interpretation (implied) that ALL cat people are stupid. See how nitpicky we can get and how that will spark an cry to decry that person as a decent human being? For the record, I love my cats and was a dog person for the first twenty years of my life. I still love dogs but for my own personal reasons, I now prefer cats.

For those parents with children about to reach the age of real comprehension and butthurtness, I implore you to have a logical, open discussion with your children so they do not become like so many people in society today just fishing for issues where there are none.

Today at school, the bigger boy pushed you down? Why did he push you down? What happened right before that? Has this happened before? Was there ever a problem with the bigger boy? Have you talked to the bigger boy before? Did he say anything? Did you say anything to him? Was anyone around? Did they say anything? What happened next? What are you going to do next time you see the bigger boy? And so on and so forth.

I apologize for zigging and zagging all over this topic and some of the off-shoots. Like so many things we deal with today, there are very few black and white (right and wrong) answers. Hopefully you may have found something of worth or at least worthy of being agreed with or categorically denied, your choice obviously.

OK Happy Hump Day and we shall blog at you again soon!

Peace.

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