Prison Cell to Digital Poison

Sorry, I missed last week, here is a catch up for all of the things that I’ve been thinking of. (Well, really just one thing.)


 

I regularly want to write something on this blog and change my mind at the last second because I’m afraid of hurting their feelings or overstepping my bounds. There are a great many things that happen to me that obviously, people don’t want to have shouted to the mysterious public.

Still, I can’t help that feeling in my mind anymore. It’s pervasive. Intruding on my regular thoughts and wondering… “Should I bring this up? Do they want it to be made known?”

Of course, it isn’t the dark secrets I’ve been told. It isn’t the things that are obvious to be kept hidden. I rarely hear those. I have no interest in hearing things that I am unable to repeat, because I know that if I cannot repeat it, it shouldn’t be knowledge in my possession. I have plenty of other things to hear and to listen to.

All of this made me wonder recently, how easily it is that we let our words drip from our tongues into the laps of others, and how all too often we reveal too much. Or perhaps, on the other side of the spectrum, we say too little. That’s what has really been reaching out and clawing for me to talk about.

I skipped a recent blog post because I was having a wonderful time with my girlfriend and another friend, and we just talked for hours. About relatively little. We went over the state of the government and the games we’ve been playing, we talked about life and where we are at and it was wholly joyful. I thought then, and have been considering since, how hard it can be to talk freely to others in today’s climate.

Especially about politics or religion.

It’s so easy to bring down unrighteous fury on the unsuspecting masses without much consideration for their intent or feelings, and I find it rather comical. That the opinions I hold are of such detriment to someone that they would consider blacklisting me on social media as to not see what I have to say anymore. I am currently in that position, which was the center of this wondering feeling I have found for myself.

For a bit of context, I have a friend who regularly posts extremely biased political commentary almost exclusively in the form of memes and text-based images, meant to be sarcastic or comical. Each time I’ve seen them on my feed I’ve considered saying something but have deleted my response before posting it because I realize that whatever I say won’t change their mind, and this spawned a chain of realizations for me.

We live in an age that demands “teachable moments” for us. These instances of our lives where we are allowed to see behind the curtain and understand something that is beyond our current comprehension. We see it often, especially with the race/gender/sexuality debates. It’s often brought to my attention thanks to the invasive well of misinformation streamed into my cell phone almost constantly, that many of us do not understand anything about anything, which sounds like a climate that would certainly demand teachable moments.

But I take issue with that. Teachable Moments are a dime a dozen, and we view them incorrectly. You see, when I was in school I hated learning because my teachers told me to. They set up these lesson plans that were built to harvest the essence of knowledge about a given subject and implant it into my mind, so that those seeds could grow into an idea, and further grow into an understanding, but twelve years of eight hour long teachable moments spurned me from collecting knowledge. I sought the things that took me out of that element. Of course, I love to learn. I always have.

But I do not like to be told what to learn.

I outright refused assignments and intentionally turned in outlandish and exaggerated incorrect papers, because my teachers didn’t give me the appropriate instructions. I sought loopholes in everything I could, because I considered the institution to be laughable. In my free time, or if the topic birthed some curiosity within me, I would continue to search for answers, but I did it on my own time, with a degree of hunger that my teachers, I’m sure, doubted that I had.

I have since graduated and lived some life, I have learned a lot and I’ve realized that I want to turn around and go become a teacher. I want to be one of the very soldiers of doctrine whom I worked tirelessly to distress and frustrate in my formative years. I chose this professional path for one simple reason.

My desire to distinguish teachable moments, from learning moments.

See, the basis for how we teach one another things, especially in this era of misunderstanding and arguments, is almost always brought about with fervor and self-righteous anger. Despite the showboating making these lessons learned seem as though they are coming from a place of humility. The fact of the matter is, if someone refuses to listen, they will refuse to learn. What good is teaching and explaining with force to a wall. The best-case scenario, you will wear out your tongue on explanations. Worst case scenario, your break your fist against the stone.

Stubborn, selfish mindsets are immovable, especially when prompted by an outside force.

In dealings with the misguided or stubborn, I’ve realized that a conversation with them provokes more meaningful decision making than explaining to them why they are wrong, or biased, or what have you. I’ve learned that seeing things from their point of view is always the better alternative. Saying that it is impossible to see things from their point of view is a valid strategy to get you out of your duty, but you can try I suppose.

I call it your duty, or rather, our duty, because it is. Knowledge is not meant to be hoarded. The purpose for public education and further education in all things is meant to share the wealth for the benefit of society. Taking that mentality and placing it into the hands of your every man, you will quickly see an imbalance of power within the grasp of those who are enlightened. (They’re calling themselves “woke” now.)

See, when someone says something full of ignorance, and you tell them that they are so, they won’t understand why. Human nature almost commands us to respond to those things with anger. If you tell me that I am short-sighted, but don’t tell me why, I will continue to assume that you operate day to day with your head up your ass and I will go on with my life. (You didn’t think I was exempt from this idea just because I am writing about it, did you?)

The thing is, everything we say or think will offend someone in the world. Each word we say carries with it a weight that we know, and a weight that we don’t. The only true way to come to a mutual understanding is to make the effort to mutually understand.

Which is difficult when you are focused on teaching others, because you see, a teacher who refuses to learn, won’t be a very capable teacher. If that were so, you’d wind up with the education system that America currently operates within. (Horribly biased, shoddily put together, and incapable of meeting the demands and needs of the children who go through it to prepare them adequately for adulthood. In case you were curious about what I meant.)

I think that plenty of moments hold extreme value, if you fail to take a lesson out of at least one thing each day, if you pass on learning something new, I think you’ve wasted your time. We should always be seeking to look at things in a new way and with a new perspective, even if it doesn’t change our opinions, it will aid in our understanding of the world we’ve created for ourselves. It isn’t our duty to teach others things and see to it that they leave our engagement with a new lease on life. I am guilty of it. (For hell’s sake, my blogs FOCUS was to teach people things for at least three years, perhaps even four.)

Instead, I think we would be wise to consider an alternative. Introducing them to the new perspective and meeting one another in conversation, where they aren’t pressured to change their minds immediately but are exposed to the truths and the facts when available. When truth and fact are not available, we should find them before engaging in any sort of conflict. Which brings me to my second realization.

Social media is poison.

This isn’t news. Everyone on some level agrees, whether it is the time that Facebook saps from you or the things you see on twitter, everyone feels that statement in some way. It isn’t a traditional poison. No, it is digital and it is ferocious because it gets you where you are most vulnerable. It allows us to attack ideas and beliefs without sparing your conscience.

I’ve been playing games online for a significant amount of time now, most of my life. Since the Xbox 360 released, I’ve constantly been exposed to thirteen-year-old kids telling me what they were going to do to my mother or my girlfriend when our match ends. Unstable and angry because they were outplayed and outmatched in a fake world with fake points, they unleash all kinds of terrors upon you. I’d be wary if they were witches or warlocks, but alas, they aren’t.

My mother was never attacked or sexually frustrated by any of these boys. Neither were any of my girlfriends (That I’m aware of, at least.) and yet they are keen on throwing these insults out, because why would I take the time to find out who DrakeLover69 is in real life. It allows us to separate on a level unlike ever before. That isn’t to say social media is all horrible. I’ve been able to keep in contact with people who I would have not ever met in the first place. I’ve built a legion of friends all over the world due to social media and the power of the internet, and I marvel in it’s power.

x to doubt

Until some middle-aged politico with three kids and a desperate desire to usurp the political forces that be comes along with a meme featuring minions and grammar akin to that of the same thirteen year old that told me he was going to give my girlfriend the best sex of her life after he beat my team in Apex Legends the other day.

For a society who wages war on the admittedly overweight and awkward neckbeards that realm the dark spaces of Steam Sales and Overwatch Themed chatrooms, I think it’s hilarious that we are more well adjusted than the people my parents age when it comes to the internet and assaults on our character from the perspective of Kowalski memes.

I’ve watched people from opposite sides of the political/religious fence get into legitimate meme wars over Donald Trump/AOC/the Catholic Church + the gender war. I’ve watched grown ass men get in full blown arguments in forums regarding the legitimacy of Ben Shapiro’s debate tactics and personal beliefs. These same people who, offline, preach to me regularly about who respect is measured and offered to one another. That we should give our respect out freely to everyone. It is a courtesy, about that…

What you say offline might be easier to hide, but when you reflect it with what you’ve said or done on the internet and those things don’t match up. I’d consider that a learnable moment. Maybe have a seat with the kid that “tore up” my “hot ass mom” and seek something deeper than fragile arguments with people you will never see again.

Social media is fantastic. I’ve been brought close to so many, and have sustained wonderful friendships because of it, but I refrain from posting because I don’t want to find myself amid one of these useless arguments, which brings me to the last point I have.

We are too easily broken by Minion memes.

Other memes too, I guess, but I think the minion ones get to me the most. I see red when I see minion memes. Wacky Tic Tacs have no place in the meme format, but more importantly, the stuff that comes along with the silly Facebook memes that have invaded my phone like techno cancer have spread a disease along with it.

I was having a conversation with a coworker, who was referencing one such meme, this one specifically about the national budget compared to Trump’s wall, I asked her if she really thought the statistic provided was correct. To which she told me “I don’t know, it sounds right.” (To her credit, I checked and the statistics regarding the amount of money spent for the wall versus the total national budget was spot on.) but “sounds right” shouldn’t be enough. Everything should be double, or triple checked because the level of misinformation ESPECIALLY on social media is alarming. Disastrous, even, because it allows us to spread those tiny lies so easily. Share it or retweet it and suddenly everyone believes Mark Zuckerberg is a robot. (Which, truth be told, I’d buy it.) Despite having no credible evidence. You can see this with the rise of conspiracy thought. People buy into every conspiracy theory out there. Drake hired a hitman to take out XXXTentacion, Baron Trump is a time traveler (Okay, that one frightens me.) Everything in between those included. It’s easy to find the information, it’s hard to parse the real from the false.

Couple that with the unrest in the hearts of the people today and it makes the social media world a minefield of trouble because EVERYONE has something to say. We all say it differently and I think that’s beautiful, what isn’t beautiful is that we can say what we feel with so much arrogance and such a desperate lack of compassion that it comes across to the entire world like salt in a wound we don’t really have.

This may seem hypocritical, given my history and that a solid chunk of my past work has been me literally telling people to not be dicks, but really, I mean, I accept it. I don’t think you should be dicks either, but I’ve learned since then that in order for me to get through to someone, I must do it with compassion and patience. You can’t just turn off those switches. If we could just tell people things and they would do them without a second thought the world would be in chaos. People can be evil and manipulative. It is up to the rest of us to know that and fight against it every day.

There is only one way to do that.

The opposite of evil isn’t simply goodness.

It is knowledge.

It is understanding.

It is compassion.

 

Three things that are hard to keep in check when your life is swirling around the toilet bowl of a Facebook feed. But what do I know?

I’ll tell you…

I know we have to be better people. Smarter people.

If we aren’t, things will get a whole lot worse than they are today.

Online, and in real life.

 


 

I hope you missed me last week! I wanted to come back with something a bit more… meaningful and thought-provoking. This has been on my mind a while, and I didn’t know exactly how to phrase it the way I wanted to. Until today.

Thank you so much for reading, and for those of you who have stepped away from social media, how did it change you? Did it at all? If you still sink in the social media hole like I do, what keeps you sane? Do you thrive on the arguments or is it something you avoid? Let me know below. ❤

Not to spill the beans too early, but March is going to be a pretty fun month on the blog. I’m working on a project, kind of a continuation from last year and I’ll be talking more about it as the days go by, but I’m really excited to turn 26 + still be doing this. I am a blessed individual. (Even if I’ve only scored two wins in Apex Legends so far.)

 

Life is not meant to be awful.

 

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