I don’t feel like writing– especially on the internet. It’s not safe here. I would be better off writing my thoughts on the back of a takeout menu then using it to scrape the bird crap off my windshield. Or I would be better off activating a 30-Day trial on Netflix so I can watch the 4th season of Orange Is The New Black over a period of 48 hours while not thinking about anything else.
Anything would feel better than going online.
The internet has become a place where I go to feel discouraged and worried about the world. Wake up, log on, fear for humanity. I don’t know why I do it. It’s like I’m serving penance for something. I could go over here and be at peace with my soul OR I could type in my phone passcode and click on all the apps that have little red notifications hovering above them and keep clicking and scrolling until all the notifications have disappeared along with my sense of hope and wellbeing.
All people do online is argue and judge and willfully misunderstand each other. Even now, I’m doing it with myself:
Judgmental Me: “You aren’t even aware of your privilege, that you have the choice to just stay offline and not have to feel what’s going on around you.”
Judgable Me: “I’m just tired of feeling so heavy.”
Judgmental Me: “Well then you’re a coward.”
My news feed is telling me I must cleave myself in half and wait to see which side is successful in destroying the other. My brain is telling me to turn up the air conditioning and crawl under the covers and pretend like nothing is happening.
Neither of these seem like very good choices. And the low-hanging fruit makes it way too easy to get sucked into inane debate that does nothing to actually improve the situation.
I’ve stopped clicking on the articles. I just read the headlines:
“Guy Gets Shot To Death But That Makes Sense Or Else He Wouldn’t Have Been Shot To Death”
“More People Are Shot To Death Because Shooter Upset About People Getting Shot To Death”
“Child Dies in Tragic Accident, Entire Country of Perfect Parents Share Their Irrelevant Opinions on Who They Think is to Blame”
“Polls Show 97% of Americans Think Alaska is an Island Next To Hawaii, Off The Coast of Mexico and We’re Gonna Make ‘Em Build a Wall”
“Housewives in Your Area Use This One Clever Trick to Stop Aging and This Matters Because You Should Feel Terrible About Yourself”
“Pokemon Go a Big Thing Right About Now”
I wasn’t planning to write about this. I’m lacking whatever personality trait makes people think their opinion is 100% right and everyone should shut up and listen to it. If anything, I’m the opposite. I’m worried that my opinion is uninformed. Laced with bias. Too naive. Too cynical.
Even worse, I’m wishy washy.
Wishy Me: “How hard is it for people to take a moment to imagine life through someone else’s perspective, and understand that their experience isn’t the only valid one?”
Washy Me: “If someone killed one of my two brothers who happen to be cops I WOULD BURN THEIR FUCKING WORLD TO THE GROUND.”
I am part of the problem. I am part of all the problems. And I’m not sure what to do about it. Maybe that’s why I’m paying penance. Or maybe what I’m REALLY paying is the salary of all the media execs who embed Geico ads and subscription pop ups in between the quotes of whoever’s being interviewed about whatever horrible thing is the latest thing to grab our attention and get all the likes and all the shares and all the crazy-ass comments from the rednecks of Trumptopia.
Alex told me the other day that, statistically speaking, the entire world is actually trending less violent. This didn’t make me feel better. It made me feel like a cavern was opening up inside my chest.
“Wow,” I said. “If this is the new and improved humanity then I’m out. No thank you. Tell ’em Boy, Bye.”
How can the world supposedly be safer and people more accepting when every time I logon I read “the Dallas shooter is a martyr” or “those thugs got what they deserve?” Every where I turn, someone is telling me who does and doesn’t deserve to live. Who does and doesn’t deserve to die.
But here’s what really frightens me: When I read those headlines I feel completely alone. I feel frustrated and heartbroken and powerless because no one is willing to take the time to listen to each other. Then I realize that I’m so busy skimming articles in a fit of rage to bother listening to the other voices murmuring from the middle. Those voices sound a lot like my own– but for some reason they aren’t as loud as the others. Their tolerance and well-reasoned opinions don’t make for good headlines. The algorithm doesn’t honor the tempered nature of their responses.
The reasonable human is not welcome on the internet. But we are here. I’ve seen you.
And as much as I doubt the validity of my own voice and as much as I worry about not knowing enough to say the right thing, I’m going to go ahead and say something: There are no sides. The media and politicians have convinced you that there are only two sides and you must pick one. They’ve already decided how you’re supposed to feel and what you’re supposed to think.
“[Fill In The Blank] has happened and it’s a [Fill In The Blank Situation] that is sure to cause a divide between [Fill In The Blank] and [Fill In The Blank].”
I’m not going to listen to this anymore. It’s time for us to speak up and drown out the voices of those who are shouting that you must pick a side. This isn’t a war and it isn’t a game– it’s a conversation that is desperately overdue. And real conversations don’t have sides.