My last entry, regarding my thoughts on the anniversary of the election of Donald Trump, brought on some interesting responses.
As expected, I had the regular detractors on social media. Mostly, they are people I know quite personally, or have known most of my life. The usual suspects. They are the ones who, for one reason or another, hated Barack Obama. Hate Hillary Clinton. Ostensibly, they also love Donald Trump, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be so. They may, but they may just love what he represents, to them. That could be anti-establishment. That could be a chaotic response to what they perceive as a liberal-biased media and political machine that has, for too long, worked too well against their own agenda. It could very well be that they simply revel in my own disdain for the man, and the disdain others who would align with me ideologically also feel. It could be they just like to troll me. I’m okay with that, too.
There are other responders, of many ideologies – both aligned and opposed to mine – who wish to avoid the public social media discourse altogether. I don’t blame them for that. They can get silly, these Facebook clashes. I hear from these others in private message, text, or in person. Some of my best conversations have come that way. I know those on the right and left of the argument that will turn the public discussion into personal attacks, whether for anger or lack of substantive retort, and it is unfortunate. I see no call for that. It has been said many times that no argument on Facebook has ever changed the mind of another. Not one meme. Not one ALL-CAPS-ENDING-IN-AN-EXCLAMATION-POINT! sentence has ever made someone say, “oh my, this person nailed it and my entire way of thinking is flawed.”
But I suspect those angry railings are not targeted to change people’s minds. They are either not targeted at all, simply a knee-jerk and often regrettable moment of passion, or they are targeted to remind those of like ilk that there is someone fighting for their cause. I generally don’t begrudge such things. I admire passion and understand anger. The only manner of these outbursts I begrudge are the personal attacks I mentioned. I wince when I see them. When they are directed at me I will respond, mostly like an adult scolding a child. “No need for that. Play nice or go sit in the corner.”
I will not tolerate it.
I even unfriended a person, recently, for the first time in my life. They would not heed my warning, and added nothing to the discourse beyond the occasional “you’re an idiot, Tommy.” Actually, most of the time they didn’t say it like that. Most of the time they misspelled one of those words. Sometimes all of them.
In recent months, my dissertations have added a new level of response, one I am distinctly proud of. Another online community. A community of writers. Really good ones, with working brains and thoughtful compositions all their own. These people I interact with at the bottom of my own blog, on WordPress, and in conversations in the comment section of their own entries. To say that they have illuminated me, in many ways, is to fall short in descriptive terms. I am ever so grateful for their input, their feedback, and their own expositions.
Later today, or over the next few days, I plan to introduce you to many of them. If you get to know them, as you’ve gotten to know me, you will not be disappointed. Tom’s promise.
I appreciate all of you. All of you who interact with me on social media. Each of you who contact me personally to talk about my blog. All of you who enlighten me with blogs of your own. As I have told many of you, I do this primarily for me. I love the process of writing, and the clarification of thought that comes from expressing my own inner self, my own thoughts and beliefs. But I don’t do it just for me; I do it for you, too. I do it to hear what you have to say about what I have to think. You are all welcome to join the conversation. You are all encouraged to do so.
But please leave the vitriol behind. Bring the passion. Disagree. Write in all caps. But keep it civil. We are both humans, you and I, with thoughts and histories and methods of processing information that differ. You are probably not an idiot. Maybe I am. But I’m smart enough to know how stupid I am. No need to remind me.
I am almost 50 years old, and I am still learning. Every day. So are you, whatever age you are. I will try to teach you what I know, and learn what you have to teach. I will do it with respect.