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.

Tom’s promise.

28 comments on Responses

  1. That appreciation is very mutual, Tom. My own writing has taken a distinct turn for the better since integrating some ideas that I’ve gotten directly from you. And don’t feel too bad about whoever it was you unfriended. A few years ago, I actually had to block my drunken uncle from being able to e-mail me for much the same reasons.

    1. Thank you, Paul! Yes, this man was a relative of sorts, too. I gave him three strikes. Actually, four. He’s out.

      A friend of mine told me yesterday that my writing was getting even better. I immediately thought of you. Your mastery of the language is second to none, and when I read your stuff it can’t help but improve how I write mine.

      1. Thank you! But it would be very funny if someone went to check out my page on the basis of your gracious compliment only to find today’s offering of “Three Gene Salad”.

      2. I highly recommend it! At least, I think I do. I recommend everything up until “three gene salad,” and I’ll recommend that one, too, in a few minutes. 😉

      3. Lmao! I haven’t had a chance to see today’s entry yet, but now I can’t wait to see what a “three gene salad” happens to be. 😂

  2. Well said, no other comment. I always enjoy reading your blogs, it is my choice whether I agree or not. As far as I am concerned this is your blog. Your words, Keep ’em coming 😉

  3. SO MUCH IN HERE I HOPE TO THOROUGHLY RESPOND TO!! (did that change your way of thinking?)

    Tom, I’ve meant to comment on your last three or four posts and just haven’t done it. In honesty, you and curmudgeon (and a few others like pinklightsabre and thebloggess, my actual best friend and someone I definitely know personally…) are the exact same to me. I truly value the quality writing, your very articulate thoughts, the camaraderie we get NOT ONLY in similar political values or general ideologies, but in playing nice.

    I will say that I would not unfriend a person (on a social media site OR in real life) for their political beliefs (racism not withstanding); however, I WOULD unfriend a person for shitty public comportment (or racist attitudes, general bigotry, misogyny, etc.) and just being a dickhead.

    Maybe you read my post on The Rules (and playing by them), but that’s what I think of when you talk about playing nice and leaving behind the vitriol. We all want the conversation and debate, but most of don’t need the hate. I think the internet truly is a place for that vitriol. As long as YOU, Tom, are immune to the long-term effects of the vitriol, then I say party on. Personally, I had to give it up, because I’m too think-skinned to stand a lot of the mindless hate. It just gets me depressed about the whole of humanity… but the drugs could cause those giant, emotionally-driven leaps in logic… I don’t know… we’re still waiting for the test results.

    Anyway, great post!! Sorry for my absence on the others and thank you for your presence on many of mine. I enjoy reading about your personal philosophies.

    1. Thank you, Justin! I love reading your stuff over at BPW; you put a lot of emotion into what you do! The words and images crack me up! But it isn’t just the humor, it’s the insight. You actually seem to plea with humanity, at times, to … just … be … BETTER.

      I hear those pleas. I want to be a better me.

      And thank you for sharing the names you have with me, and for putting me in the category with such luminaries as DC and TB; I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me just to mentioned in the same sentence. I don’t know PLS but, I assure you, I will after today!

      I have never unfriended a person before this one. He was being a shitty public dickhead. I have been unfriended for my beliefs before, though. Not sorry.

      I did read The Rules and enjoyed in immensely.

      Justin, when I go out there and post what I do, I know I’m going to take some hits. Particularly on Facebook where my trolls reside. I don’t mind. Usually, I don’t mind. Sometimes they will get under my skin; I’m very human. But I’ve also been the kind of person my entire life to put myself on the front line and take those public hits, for the team. For the greater good. For the conversation. The things I say, I feel must be said. I can’t say I’m always right, but I’m also not afraid to be wrong.

      Thank you again for continuing to read, and for your wonderful response. I feel my resolve steeling from it. Thanks for asking me, and expecting me, to be a better me!

      1. “We’re either getting better, or we’re getting worse.” Simple words of wisdom from my first principal. I commit myself to the same holy endeavor.

        As for The Bloggess, I have to clarify by saying it was a total joke, I don’t know her, and the reason I post comments on her blog is because I’m hoping for more traffic. Sorry, Bloggess.

  4. Tom! You continue to inspire me and have shamelessly, on several occasions, used your words to craft my own. There are those out there who love to cause trouble and stir the point for no other reason than to garner a reaction. We can all agree to disagree, if necessary, but there is always time and space for kindness. Keep it up…being up here in the Great White North, where we are somewhat apolitical in Canadian politics, I find the discourse fascinating. And for those who have opposing views, articulate them!! Don’t Hate Just Write! 🙂

    1. Well said, Ms Jane! 👏👏👏

      I don’t mind telling you, you are always one of my favorite reads. Your honesty, insight and compassion always shine through. It’s a pleasure to be running right along side you, metaphorically speaking, as you sprint through life!

  5. I have always wanted to know (and by always I mean since Trump was elected) why bigots can’t spell or use grammar correctly. Would be an interesting thesis topic.

    1. When you close your mind to one thing, sister, you close your mind to everything. I’d guess that folks that have no desire to learn about the true nature of our shared humanity also have no need to learn about structure and content. Sad.

      1. Not sure if you used “sad” ironically but I just read this in Trump’s Twitter voice. Sad!

  6. That’s a great promise Tom! Something I wish we all decide to take on when becoming adults, that is perhaps the very indication of being an adult, an ability to uphold one’s dignity and respect the other person no matter how crude they are, how much they incite us, or how strongly our emotions push us to do otherwise. It’s a whole lot harder to do than say! (I wanted to write that in ALL CAPS!) Especially in an anxious, unstable political climate.

    You are not alone in feeling trolled for your political beliefs. It’s incredible how deep these divisions are within families and other close-knit groups. I just listened to a friend the other day tell me how she had to unfriend people on Facebook for writing mean things to her because she spoke out against Trump. Also, how surprise she was who they were, how this had revealed them for who they really were to her. I think it is the ultimate sign of a weak argument when someone has to belittle and bully the other person to feel better about themselves.

    I’ve been wanting to write a comment to each of your three recent posts, but family commitments and writing longer pieces have kept me out of the blog-universe for a quite while. But your pieces are always on my reading list, I love reading your work!

    1. That SHOULD be in ALL CAPS! It is much harder to do than say. I have, admittedly, many times, written an automatic, and heated, response and then deleted it to think further before coming back. It is easy to be knee-jerk; easy to be a jerk.

      I prefer to let my thoughts and emotions settle, and then respond in kind. There have been times, MP, when folks thought that meant I was easy prey. Woe be to them when they realized I do bite back when provoked. I just don’t believe in unprovoked attacks.

      I’ve also learned the subtle art of passive destruction over the years, when I need it. 😉

      I feel bad for your friend. I’ve seen that happen, too. Better the worms come out from under their rocks, though, so we see them for what they are. My only hope is that they grow from this lesson your friend has taught them. We could use more sensible people in the world.

      Your input is always appreciated, believe me! You are one of the most inspiring people I have ever “met” and our interactions have definitely made me a better, and more aware, person. Thank you for your contributions. I believe you when you say your plate is full; you are undoubtedly very much in demand!

  7. I’ll say it again. I sincerely admire your ability to be more open than I could be. Someone brought up politics during the turkey weekend, I tried to get them to stop but they just kept going with their self righteous , The Lord is in charge and if evangelicals ..blah blah blah..and let’s just say the shit hit the fan. I exploded like an extra fizzy bottle capped and violently shook 7up. It was extremely emotional for me.

    1. Thank you, Lori. I’m pretty tolerant of a wide variety of views, but I can never stand for personal attacks. When they occur, I ask once to get back on topic, or else. If I have to ask twice, the conversation is over. If I have to ask a third time, there will be no further conversations. No need for any of that.

      Yesterday, on Facebook, I also became intolerant of inanity. Saying the same thing over and over again, with improper spelling and a mocking tone, can get to me, too. Hey, I’m only human. 😉

      Thanks for the response, L!

  8. These are just the reasons I have come to avoid all social media except for my blogging. I remember reading articles on MSN before they removed the comment function. It was the more horrible display of human behavior. And it never ends.

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