Monday, December 27, 2010

Passion With A Heavy Concentration Of Toxicity

Note: I was actually gonna nuke this because I was having second thoughts a few hours after I initially wrote this, but the prick to who I was having issues with decided to take one last swipe at me by calling me an asshole. So it stays up and now I'm reconsidering whether or not to maintain my workplace friendship with my ex-FB friend.

I can truly understand how people can become passionate about certain issues. If a particular issue hits rather close to home, it's very easy to become passionate about it.

But what if that passion starts to cloud your judgment and makes you become the one thing that you supposedly loathe to see in others?

Take gay rights for example.

I know that there is a large segment of society that is quite passionate and very vocal about gay rights, and for the most part, the ones I've encountered have been respectful about the other points of views on the issue. And those people have been the ones over the past few years that have made me modify my viewpoint on certain things within the gay rights movement that otherwise would have remained the same had I not had those respectful and informative conversations.

But, and this is a big but, there are those whose passion has so fully taken over their sensibilities that no amount of legitimate opposing viewpoints will ever be accepted or even considered. They are so damn inflexible that to make any attempt at engaging them in a rational conversation/debate brings nothing but grief, stress and headaches to the person making the attempt.

A few weeks ago, I made a comment on a now ex-friend's status update on Facebook about the recent repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, and apparently a few people took exception to the comment, including the ex-friend. Which I didn't really mind from her because everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint and on your wall, your viewpoint reigns supreme.

What bothered me the most was that within the minute I hit the "comment" button, the hyper-vigilant swarm immediately began pestering me (like a yapping puppy dog) with the same tired and stale arguments from my chat room years, like somehow that was going to make me change my mind or make a difference. If you're passionate to the point of obsession about gay rights, then reiterating the same thing over and over again while implying that I'm an ignorant fuck who is a bad parent and a homophobe just because I don't share the same opinion as you about gay marriage or the military's DADT policy or even Matthew Shepard, probably isn't going to make me listen or pay attention to whatever legitimate point you might have.
Anyways, it finally got to the point where I had to a powder from Facebook that night, simply because I got tired of being dumped on by someone who apparently was related to the ex-friend in question. Do you know how hard it is to respond to someone who is bashing you from pillar to post because they're related to a mutual friend?

My friends, I was in a classic Catch-22: if I responded in my usual way from days gone by, not only would I probably alienate the ex-friend but I would also have a few problems elsewhere as well. If I ignored it, it would give free rein to the prick who was making the comments to begin with.

I actually tossed and turned over this particular headache because as much as I liked this person, I wasn't finding any way out of my predicament. No matter what I wanted to say, chances are it would come back to bite me in the ass.

In the end, the decision was made for me. When I came back the next day, a few of the comments (mostly mine) were removed by my ex-friend. So in turn, that made it easier for me to unfriend my friend and I removed my remaining posts from the thread in question. Honestly though, I'm not sure how this is going to play out in the long run because there are quite a few issues that will still need to be resolved and I have to be extremely careful on how I go about resolving them.

However, due to the final shot that this prick took (which I wasn't able to respond to but was able read just the same), I don't think that this will be solved to anyone's mutual satisfaction. By her removing most of my posts and not saying anything about the content of what the other person was saying to begin with, she has shown a rather unsightly facet to her character that will cause me to treat her a little bit differently from this point forward.

The lesson to be learned is that while it is okay to be passionate about a particular issue, don't let that particular issue turn you into a bigot and blind you to either other legitimate (non-offensive) viewpoints offered by other people or the highly toxic ramblings of your friends and/or family.

Chances are that if you do turn a blind eye, you may not be able to repair any damaged relationships that stemmed from that blind eye to begin with.

Life is short to begin with. Don't shorten it even further by poisoning the relationships you cultivated over the years because you can't learn to listen with an open mind.


  1. It's too bad when a social network thing like facebook can cost friendships to deteriorate or be lost, etc. I really only have facebook to keep up with family and friends. It's been great to catch up with long lost friends, too. Except this one guy who just keeps spewing updates about his political views. I finally figured out I could hide his posts and not have to go the route of "unfriending" someone.

    I guess I'm shallow, but I just like to look at friends' vacation and party pictures, etc. on facebook. :)

  2. Open minds are not easy to find, and they are even more rare online it seems than when you are face to face with folks.

  3. Lynn: Trust me, you aren't shallow. I do the same thing with the various games that my friends play because otherwise my wall would be cluttered with game updates and it would take me too long to find normal updates.

    I actually thought about hiding that person's feed (which I already do to someone else) but this seemed like the most prudent course of action.

    Charles: To a certain degree you are right. Most people who consider themselves "open minded" face to face quite often can show their true colors when they don't others are watching. I've been lucky to find people in my life who are open minded in person as they are online.

  4. I have my own stance on gay rights, which you know quite well from my blog. However, I also have an anti-fundie stance, and detest it when some people take whatever cause they pursue (no matter how worthwhile) and unrelentingly try to pound it into your head as "the only way". People like that are just as fundie as the religious kooks (my recent post regarding the quote marks is a good reminder of just how insane activists can be). We live in a crazy world.

    I'm glad I'm not on Facebook, for what it's worth... my sojourn into FB territory lasted all of two weeks before the inner alarm bells started clanging. Can't get away from the goddamn thing totally though - some news sites and such make you log into your FB account in order to comment on news stories. No thanks, not interested.

    Hope your Christmas was a good one!

  5. Gumby: Yes, my Christmas was pretty decent, thanks.

    Honestly, I really try to respect other people's views on gay rights by listening to what they say (I've only found three people in the blog world, including yourself, whose viewpoints I pay attention to because while they are passionate about them, they don't slam upside the head with a phone book with them) and those few people have made me modify what I think about gay rights in general.

    I'm very careful with Facebook because all of the people in my circle are from either the real world or from other factions in the chat rooms that share my low tolerance of stupid.

    This was simply a minor abberation, of which will cause me to perform my duties at work just a little more carefully for the foreseeable future.

  6. I've never understood why people think anger and name-calling are going to change anyone's mind.

  7. R: You know me, I try to be as open minded as all get out, but you would not believe the amount of abuse I've taken over the years because simply because I choose not to wholeheartedly support gay rights.

    Even when I've conceded a few points and thus modified my owen personal viewpoints, I've still gotten crucified from the extremist within the movement.

    I still have my personal views on gay rights (as well other offshoot issues stemming from gay rights), but people should realize that if you want to change my mind, treat me as you want to be treated.

    No more and no less.

  8. This is why I avoid Facebook, and the more I read about the place the more delighted I am to have no part of it.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  9. Joe: Honestly, I find Facebook is at least 10 steps up from the chat rooms (which I avoid like the plague), and for the most part, I only converse within my circle of friends.

    Normally I am very careful on who I make friends with on Facebook, especially if they're co-workers, so this was a painful lesson that was learned. Hopefully there won't be any reprecussions in the long run, but I do have stuff stashed away just in case.

    And yes, while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I try my best to respect that person's opinion, whether I agree with it or not.

  10. I've worked with folks who are adamant especially on those issues. Some folks don't allow for different views, n are judgemental, even after claiming they're not. Once I get into that arguement, I tend not to speak with those folks much.
    Sorry you had to go thru that hassel! Better froends are out there-

  11. Snaggle: I always walk a very fine line at work when it comes to gay rights, not only because my agency is in the forefront for all gay rights issues as it applies to children, but my employer (the state of Connecticut) is in the forefront as well (or tries to be).

    I am currently taking that approach with that particular person now, which is only talking to them when its absolutely necessary, so we shall see how that goes before I decide to do anything else.

  12. I'm so glad I have avoided Facebook for the most part. Folks tell me Blogger is dead and Twitter is the way to go.

    And G unless you enjoy these moments of confrontation (we have talked about this before in our legendary comments-a-thon) just avoid responding. You're a writer who wants to sell books not alienate folks, right?

  13. David: In all honesty, I used to enjoy this confrontations while in the chat rooms, simply because it would drive traffic to my blog (had links to my blogs in my profile).

    But three years later, it really got to be tiresome, so I moved over to Facebook. For the most part, I don't even have these kind of confrontations simply because I don't want to alienate my friends (I have a wickedly restrictive privacy setting, so the only people who can comment on my stuff are my friends and/or friends of friends).

    That's why this one was so puzzling and to a certain degree, so hurtful as well. I'm starting to see a little fallout from this particular set-to, which was something I expected.

    And yes, I am a writer who wants to sell books, although I really need to tread a fine line between being myself and being confrontational over hot-button topics like this.

    I don't want to be bland, yet I don't want to stifle my natural self to the point where I become a caricature.

  14. I have noticed that one side in that particular debate spends so much time screaming with profanity-laden tirades how hateful the other side is...and doing so with such volume...that many people think the loud and profane must be right about the hate.

    I have always found it to be the opposite.

    Sounds like you have too, at least somewhat.

  15. Darth: I have.

    No matter what the particular hot button issue may be (gay rights, religion, GWB, etc.) if you're slamming people with vitriolic insults and hysterical posturing, you're not gonna win any converts, just preaching to the choir.

    In this case, this person really was preaching to the choir. Now if my ex-friend and this jerk actually kept their respective cools, I wouldn't have the current headache that I'm experiencing.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

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