A HOW-TO ABOUT CRITICISM OF THE OPPOSITION
A HOW-TO ABOUT CRITICISM OF THE OPPOSITION ONLINE
In a world where we can now speak out instantaneously about the latest news, it might be wise to consider a few things before posting.
I try to write my blog posts in an informative and unbiased way. Sometimes that’s harder to do than I anticipate. But I believe by pointing fingers and playing the blame game, we accomplish little and antagonize a lot. My goal is to try to reach out to the general public and offer useful, thought-provoking material that anyone can relate to. Sometimes I’m providing factual information, and sometimes I’m attempting to look at issues in a more philosophical manner, Today I want to do a little of both.
On a daily basis, we see cartoons, hear jokes, or read articles that are disparaging, derogatory or distasteful. Most of these are directed at political figures or groups, or at sports or entertainment celebrities. But some are against ordinary groups of people, like ‘all republicans’ or ‘all democrats’ or in the worst cases, against an ordinary individual. On occasion, the joke or cartoon is not meant to hurt anyone, but is a thoughtless depiction derived of a dark sense of humor. When aimed at an individual, it becomes a type of bullying and/or discrimination. This is the kind of stuff that we read about, where a teenager commits suicide after being shamed or humiliated online or at school. What started out as a bad joke can turn into an insulting, hurtful continuum of degrading ridicule, leading to utter despair by the targeted person.
Kids are generally not mean spirited and cruel by nature. Most of the time this is learned behavior – sometimes by the way they’re treated, and sometimes by watching the behavior of others around them. At times, they get swept up by their peers and join in tormenting others in order to be accepted by a desired social circle. However, more often than not, they learn this type of disrespect from their home environment, whether it be from parents, siblings, or other relatives. For more insight into what might lead to bullying behavior in your child, https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/the-parent-coach/causes-of-bullying-bullying-behavior-in-bullying-child/ leads to a site that offers a more in-depth explanation of how a child can become a bully, even when they aren’t actually being exposed to direct bullying tactics. One quote from this article jumped out at me because, as a parent, I know this to be true: “Just because a child might not always “listen” to our requests and instructions doesn’t mean they aren’t intently listening to our views of other kids, parents, teachers, neighbors, and so on.”
I would like to focus on the ways in which we unintentionally – or intentionally – bully and disrespect other people in our daily interactions. At work there is usually a code of behavior that’s implemented in the work environment. Human Resource Departments spend large quantities of their time arbitrating disputes and harassment claims between employees. Granted, some companies are better at doing this than others. At least there are rules.
But how do we interact with others in our “free time” or social activities? When approaching an opinion other than our own, do we let fly with the first thought that comes to mind, or do we consider the effectiveness of our words? There is a well-known saying, “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Of course, we’ve all said something at times that we wish we could take back. Anger generates an even more favorable climate for regrettable moments. Perhaps politics is the most conducive element for destructive thoughts, words and behavior. For one thing, we all think we’re right when it comes to politics. Of course that’s not possible, but who wants to go first and say, ‘maybe I was wrong’? Who’s going to even think it?
What’s shocking, though, is the amount of vitriol we see in social media. I often wonder, do these people talk this way to everyone, or is it the anonymity of the Internet that removes their inhibitions? I’m not going to give you any pictorial examples of the things I see posted on Face Book, Twitter, or other social media sites because if I did, most likely my site would be shut down for pornographic or inflammatory content. The verbal abuse is bad enough.
I’m not speaking of trolls, or paid antagonists, or juvenile personalities that jump onto their parent’s accounts. I’m talking about supposedly reasonable adults, maybe even relatives or people you know, that curse and insult not only a targeted politician like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but belittle anyone who supports them, or anyone who questions a political stance. Hillary Clinton used a poor choice of words when she called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables.” I believe she was referring to the KKK which had endorsed Trump for president, or possibly the White Nationalists/Supremists who also backed him. Unfortunately, she unwittingly encompassed all Trump supporters with her statement. It sets up an atmosphere where it’s okay to use labels like repuklicans or demoRats. I suppose these names are considered to be clever. To me, the users seem ignorant. It’s as if they don’t have enough grasp of the English language to describe their thoughts and feelings, so they resort to name-calling of the basest sort.
Most people have also seen the vicious cartoons about the Obamas, either dressed in Muslim garb, or depicted as apes, and the one of Trump tweeting while on the toilet, or in an inappropriate embrace with Vladimir Putin. There are even pictures of a naked Trump statue that someone wasted their talents on. What kind of mentality finds this humorous? It’s true that the shock of seeing some of these elicits a reflexive or embarrassed laugh, but if this is a sign of a person’s true sense of humor, I don’t think I’d want to go see a comedy with them. In any event, I personally find these pictures offensive. I might agree with the sentiment, but I think less of the person who addresses it in this manner.
My parents brought me up to understand that hurting someone’s feelings is cruel. To attack their weaknesses or physical differences was shameful. To call someone fat, or ugly, or stupid, etc. shows that you are insensitive to others’ feelings. Furthermore, I can’t think of a single instance where this name-calling helped a situation. The same goes for cursing. I know all the words and what they mean, (and I’ve even used some in a fit of anger.) I know what STFU means, too, and GTFO. Google them, if you don’t. I was also taught that cursing shows a lack in vocabulary. That’s not necessarily always the case, though. Frustration often lends itself to cursing, but it’s still not a good way to communicate.
The question here is why are we arguing with people that we disagree with by going down to a level of hate-filled obnoxious commentary? When someone tells you to STFU, does their point of view even matter to you anymore? So if you talk to them that way, is there any reason to wonder why they don’t get your point? And the hate is so penetrating. In group discussions, I have seen people type that they no longer speak to members of their own family because of a political stance. They say they will never even knowingly talk to someone from the other political party. Why? How can you learn if you cut yourself off from understanding a different perspective? No one says you have to agree, but wouldn’t it be better if you consider their side, even if only to give yourself a better way to argue once you understand where their thoughts come from?
Here are some random comments I’ve seen on group postings and article comments. They come from both liberal and conservative sites and you would be wrong if you tried to guess:
- Drug addict
- You are a nitwit (unable to determine who)
- —shut places down so the Chinese and Russians can’t dump their trashy kids there…
- F’ing morons
- Facebook, please … add a puke emoticom
- Godzilla outshines Moo-shelle
- I can understand why leftist women are so angry. All you have to do is look at them, if you know what I mean.
- Who cares if it wipes out Mexico? LOL (re: Hurricane Katia)
- You pray and God preys
I’m going to throw two other points in here. One is criticism of a person’s religion (unless, of course, the subject is religion to begin with). The other is making false statements. These are two methods of arguing that are cheap shots and have no place in social discourse. False statements not only detract from your argument, but if believed can lead to serious mistakes and sometimes physical harm to other people – not to mention terrible election outcomes from time to time.
The best way to critique an article is by presenting facts and where you obtained them. Sometimes that might be personal experience, which is fine. Just use acceptable language and aim for good spelling and punctuation.
When replying to a meme, remember that lots of people you don’t know might be affected by what you say. You don’t have to sound like an English professor, and you may certainly offer criticism. That’s part of what makes these sites like Twitter, Instagram and Face Book so popular. Just be kind, or express your frustration or anger in a non-combative way. If you would be offended should someone say something similar to you, don’t say what you were about to say. – END