So it’s been over a week since my last post, and I’m truly sorry. I am. I made a promise to write more, and here I am, looking like a big ol’ Lyin’ McKenzie. I’d lie and say I was really busy over the past week, but I respect you all too much to do that. Nope. I opened WordPress twice, stared at the screen, closed the screen, grabbed a Toaster Strudel, and watched my neighbors have another insanely-loud domestic dispute on a snowy hill.

But, to supplement my laziness, I’ll write a longer one. It’ll be as if I wrote 2 or 3. You guys like that, right? Reading super-long shit about my 1st-world-complainy life? Who the hell doesn’t?

 

All right, so let’s face a few facts in this one. About once a month, there is a news-worthy item that spreads like wildfire on social media. Kony, George Zimmerman, civil wars in foreign countries, social justice and injustice within the confines of our continent. And, with each event, there’s always two sides – “I’m Right, Damnit” versus “No, I’m Right, You’re An Idiot.”

When these two sides get in the same room, or same virtual space, it’s usually followed by vitriolic statements of hatred, the occasional racial slur, and concludes with either a punch to the face or a kick to the crotch. Or they just walk away pissy. So, three endings.

But it’s worse in that virtual space, because it’s much easier to get lost in the boundary lines from the transition of “debate” to “fightin’ words.” To put it into context, here’s how a debate would sound:

 

Individual Whose Gender Does Not Define Them #1: I am pro-life. I believe that all life is sacred from the moment of conception, and therefore, I do not support abortion. I will go as far as to say that it should be outlawed.

Individual Whose Gender Does Not Define Them #2: You have every right to hold that opinion, but I am pro-choice. I believe life begins at birth/at first heartbeat/at whenever, and that abortion is a viable option for those who wish to choose it. I will continue to support its legality.

#1: And I will continue to urge others to consider changing their view.

#2: This has been a very respectful exchange of opinions. Let’s go get a malt at the local candy shop.

 

Both sides presented their views with that thing from the 19th century – respect. Now, let’s see an example of fightin’ words:

Angry Individual That Hasn’t Pooped in 3 Days #1: I hate Mexicans. Get them out of our country.

Angry Individual That Hasn’t Pooped in 3 Days #2: Excuse me? Your people stole this land from the Natives. Learn to share, dick.

#1: You sound like a communist! Get out of my country!

#2: I hope you get [insert popular disease]!

 

The internet is both great and terrible because you can choose to be anonymous, and get away with saying whatever the hell you want. Or you could show your identity, and still say whatever the hell you want, but only to people you’re confident you’ll never see in person in the near future.

But there are some people out there, some beautiful, delusional people, that believe that their opinions can be used as a force of persuasion. That they can campaign their feelings on message boards, news articles, YouTube videos, and Facebook walls, and expect to make a change in someone’s heart. For those that do this (and I’m certainly guilty as hell for it), you need to remember two things.

1) Your opinion, written either thoughtfully or aggressively, will never change someone’s mind on the internet.
2) Your opinion will be attacked to the most ridiculous degree, because people on the internet are shit.

So, when you see someone post something controversial or blatantly idiotic, there are plenty of other ways to circumvent dealing with douches. Here’s a list of things to do. Because you guys love lists, right? You guys love Buzzfeed, right? Screw it. Here it is.

 

1 – Contact A Local Representative

Who better to get things done than…your local politicians…

Who better to get things done than…your local politicians…

There’s a solid chance that the fightin’ words you’re about to engage in are about something involving the government. Or something the government could do/has done/is going to do. This is perfect. This gives you an opportunity to do something productive about it. It’s really simple to post a couple of sentences or paragraphs to strangers, because opposition is right goddamn in front of you. Instead, try sending an e-mail or giving a call to a local legislator. Someone from your neighborhood, your city, your state. Get them on your side. Get them to fight for you. It may look like their job is to take a ton of vacations and bonus pay, but it’s actually to make important decisions for their constituent. In other words, quit bitchin’ and do something about it.

 

2 – Sit Outside and Watch Life

Usually this is reserved for people 65+, but shouting at the neighbor's kids is an American pastime.

Usually this is reserved for people 65+, but shouting at the neighbor’s kids is an American pastime.

If you’re not gonna take a heads-on approach to dealing with strangers on the interwebz, then take a heads-off approach. Or turn a cheek. Whatever the counter-phrase is, I don’t care. But go outside and sit on your porch. Stand on a fire escape. Lean against a stop sign. It’s important to stay updated about the world, but it’s just as important to get the hell away from all the negativity. It’s easy for drama to be the center of attention. But out there, you just might find something worth smiling about. Or, you can throw rocks at people. Become the crazy person who just throws shit at strangers. Then you can be the negative news story for once!

 

3 – Sit Inside and Play “Life”

Spin the wheel, and then realize that your hand got slightly stuck for a second, and watch the wheel stop abruptly on "3" after just one full spin.

Spin the wheel, and then realize that your hand got slightly stuck for a second, and watch the wheel stop abruptly on “3” after just one full spin.

Maybe life ain’t what it’s cracked up to be, and you’re taking out frustrations on anonymous folks with loathing in your heart. You can also do the same thing with family and friends, from the comfort of your couch! Play the game of “Life” with people, and watch those idiots waste several turns going to “college.” You got blue/pink pegs to worry about, not becoming a doctor!

 

4 – Make a Batch of Boxed Brownies

All you need is an oven, a bowl, a pan, an egg, some veggie oil, and a friend who will consistently try to lick the bowl too early.

All you need is an oven, a bowl, a pan, an egg, some veggie oil, and a friend who will consistently try to lick the bowl too early.

I always find food to be the best source for getting out my stress. That’s why I was a fat kid growing up. If I could eat a cheesesteak for breakfast, I would. (Just kidding. I have. And I love it.) Feed your inner child with delicious boxed brownies. Sure, you could make them from scratch, but with the amount of murder rage you’re feeling for others, it might be a better use of immediate skills to just grab a bowl and mix that brown powder with an egg. If you’re feeling adventurous, and if you have the resources, you can throw in some extra crap. Maybe a few chocolate chips, or some peanut butter cups. That chocolate fix will turn that focus from the huge ass on the internet, to the huge ass attached to the hips!

 

5 – Eat Cookie Dough with A Loved One

Because doing it alone requires a copy of "Maid in Manhattan" playing on the TV. And you just watched that 3 hours ago.

Because doing it alone requires a copy of “Maid in Manhattan” playing on the TV. And you just watched that 3 hours ago.

Speaking of getting salmonella, one of the best uses of wasting time is making delicious cookie dough. For this one, it’s better to do it from scratch, because you can decide just how much you want to die. And, by sharing it with your partner/friend/neighbor’s dog, you can use this as a bonding moment. Conversations will immediately turn from “that douche on Tumblr” to “favorite same-sex celebrity crush.” (Hint: it’s always going to be Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. God bless you, David O. Russell.)

6 – Begin Performing Academic Research on Another Topic

Go to a library while it exists, and before it turns into a Dunkin' Kinkos Bell Hut.

Go to a library while it exists, and before it turns into a Dunkin’ Kinkos Bell Hut.

Sure, telling people you don’t know that their views are founded in wrongness, and they’re wrong, and their birth is wrong, can be fun, but you know what’s more fun? Non-fiction! You’ve spent a lot of time doing research on your topical opinion. And with the amount of books, documentaries, and history in the world, you have ample access to learning all sorts of new things. Your original topic can always motivate you for a general change. Suppose you’re super into legalizing marijuana. Telling your family and friends and strangers consistently that you want it legalized will probably get them to stop talking to you. Find some new topics. Talk about how messed up it was that the Imperial Chinese citizens would bind their feet to stunt growth. Bring up the fact that pederasty was an actual common and socially-acceptible, awful practice in Ancient Greece. People will stop talking to you because you’re worldly now. A dark, depressing, worldly individual.

7 – Sponsor A Child/Dog/Highway

Nothing says "safety" like having that next stretch of highway courtesy of the local strip club.

Nothing says “safety” like having that next stretch of highway courtesy of the local strip club.

Talking to politicians doesn’t always work. They’ve been the booty of jokes for centuries for a reason. But, if you have the money and the empathy, you can start the change right from the comfort of your home. Sponsoring a child from another continent will not only score points with the Big Man upstairs (Fat Ralph the landlord), but it’ll also make you feel good. That’s a good enough reason for anyone to do anything – supporting the self through supporting others. You can do the same with Sarah McLachlan’s dogs. Apparently they’re in pretty bad shape. Or, if you’re wanting a more drastic use of your wallet, you can consider sponsoring a highway. Restaurants, strip clubs, and thrift stores do it all the time, and it may improve a lot of people’s commutes. Who knows? By putting more money into the highway system, you may prevent another Facebook fight. You superhero, you.

 

8 – Visit Your Local Theatre/Museum/Music Show

"'Music Man'? Count me a Music Fan!" - your Yelp review the following day.

“‘Music Man’? Count me a Music Fan!” – your Yelp review the following day.

As a member of SUDA, I like to consider myself a supporter of the arts. Even though I haven’t been to one of their events in years. I’m a good person, not a great person. Anyway, the arts are a great escape to dealing with the morons posting troll-bait, because you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in another world. Take a walk to your nearest gallery, and pretend like you understand why someone would use water paints to describe “apathy.” Go to that free concert in the park, even if it is folk music. Watch a community theatre performance, and criticize every time the main character’s microphone pops. Immerse yourself in a pool of creativity. It’s much more fun than having to scroll through Wikipedia for reasons why your opinion matters most.

And, finally, the overarching activity to end all activities…

 

9 – Stop Caring About Everyone’s Opinions

There's a saying about "opinions" and "assholes," and I'm too lazy to share it. Just Google it. Or research it!

There’s a saying about “opinions” and “assholes,” and I’m too lazy to share it. Just Google it. Or research it!

Falling for people saying stupid shit on the internet is just as dumb as the people who post it. So don’t fall into that easy trap of assuming that every person besides you is wrong, and you’re right, and the whole goddamn world needs to read about how amazing you are for feeling a certain way.

And, assuming that these other people who post their views are doing it just as seriously as you are, you should maybe consider that they may be right in some way. I’m not talking about “the Holocaust is a lie” people. Because those ones are so outlandishly wrong that they’re either intentionally messing with people, or they’re the end-product of smashing their head into a wall during class time. I mean those that have a different way of approaching a problem. Economics. Handling social issues. Foreign affairs. These issues exist, and they have more than one answer.

The “I’m Right, Damnit” crowd and the “No, I’m Right, You’re An Idiot” crew will always treat each issue with a black-and-white/yes-or-no answer. Strive to be the person to shake the hand of an opposing force. Work towards making a positive change.

Or be lazy, and just call someone a “douchebag.” It’s much easier to name-call than it is to make a difference.

Advertisements