This weekend I went to a party with 90 other women, only two of whom I’ve met before. The gathering, which was loud and fun and left me with hardly a voice at the end, was planned by a woman who runs a neighborhood based Facebook group. I had zero concerns about going to this event and it felt easy to transition from the idea of these women being my online friends to friends “in real life” (a phrase I don’t love because I think it minimizes how real relationships created online can be).
I share this as an example of the fact that I love the internet and I love being online, whether it is on Twitter or FaceBook or following some of my favorite blogs. I am, however, annoyed at a few behaviors that, while the exist IRL, seem to be magnified online. I know I need to take a break from the internet when I start feeling tempted to engage with people who are doing any of the following:
- Utterly failing to understand how the concept of “free speech” works. This one has a predictable pattern. Some public person says something stupid or bigoted. Some group of people objects to said comment and says “I’m not going to support Public Person’s book/show/restaurant/store anymore”. The Public Person loses a job or has to apologize (or, sometimes, doubles down on the stupid). Then defenders of Public Person get butthurt and cry “You can’t do that, Public Person has a right to free speech!”
And then I start banging my head against the desk and want to get all capsy and say “Nope, no, nyet. That isn’t how free speech works. Public Person has a right to say stupid things but isn’t protected from negative consequences, disagreements or disapproval for saying things that offend.” So, feel free to say that you still like and maybe even agree with Public Person, but don’t act like their rights are being trampled because other people don’t.
- Acting as though all opinions and research are equally valid. So, you choose to not vaccinate your kids (assuming you have the option and it isn’t because they are medically unable to) because you’ve “done a lot of research”. Well. Bullshit. You know who has actually done a lot of research? Scientists. So, if your research is reading dingbats like this lady and my research is following the CDC and literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journals, our research is not equal. Mine is better. My opinion is more correct.
- “You’re being judgmental”: This is often said in the context of disagreements based on #2. Well, guess what, I *am* being judgmental. Because life is a constant process of choosing between things based on the judgments of which thing is a better thing.
Okay, that feels better.
(Side note, I’m working on a measles related response plan for what do if/when a measles outbreak hits a college dorm. I suspect this will happen someday and it will be terrible. Working on this report has me doing a lot of work online looking up measles information, hence the being riled up at the moment. Seriously people, vaccinate your kids.)