The Inevitable Follow Up Post

by Ginger on September 3, 2012

in Blogging & Social Media, Day in the Life

Wow.

I don’t even know how to explain what the last few days have been like here. I wish I could share with all of you how amazing, and terrifying, and gratifying (and terrifying)  it has been to watch my last post get shared far and wide. It has been a singularly unique experience, one that I don’t know that there’s any way to prepare for, but one that has (mostly) been the best experience of my blogging “career.”  And there’s no real good way to follow it up, nothing that will match it or live up to any expectations I or anyone else have, so instead of trying I’m  just going to talk a little bit about what it’s been like.

When I wrote my plea out, it was born out of frustration and sadness for the things I’ve seen in my own social media circles, mostly on Facebook. Not about the differences of opinion, or about the sharing of information, or even, despite what some people may assume, most of the jokes shared. Instead, it was about the ugly side of things, the point where it wasn’t talking policy and issues and candidates anymore, but instead was just name calling and vitriol.

It was something I’ve been pondering for a few weeks, spurred by one specific graphic that was shared by one specific person–the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. And so I did what I normally do, I sat down at my computer and wrote out the frustration I’ve been feeling. For those of you who are new here, that’s pretty much how I work through the things that are bothering me, with a brain dump at the computer. I did it on my lunch break, hit publish, and went back to work, never expecting more than the handful of my loyal readers to ever see it, but knowing I already felt better for getting it off my chest.

So much for not many people reading it.

Something in those words has clearly hit a nerve among a lot of people. People who are tired of so much anger and hatred. It has been those people who have overwhelmed me with their support–with comments and emails and tweets and blog posts that say “me too” and “thank you” and “I’m glad I’m not the only one.” It has shown me that there are so many people who want a different level of discourse–not one of putting your head in the sand and ignoring what is happening, but one where there is ACTUALLY discourse, instead of name calling.

I’ll be honest, I was petrified to post anything vaguely related to politics–even when I thought only a couple of hundred people AT BEST would read it, I knew there was the possibility of pissing people off.

Well, WAY more than a couple hundred people have seen it now, and with so many views, it was inevitable that there would be people who are upset by my post. There have been a couple who have offered polite, well reasoned counterpoints to my plea–and while I hold firm to my point, I appreciate greatly the civility they showed in their discussions. There have been a slightly depressing number of people who have missed the point entirely.  And there have, of course, been a few that have gone to name calling, arguing with other commenters, and the exact angry rhetoric I’m talking about. It makes me a little nauseated every time I read one of those comments, but it is not entirely unexpected.

As an aside:

For the most part, I’m going to ignore the more absurd and personal of the arguments leveled at me, but there is one that I do need to address, just to make it crystal clear. I realize this is mostly for my sake, as the people who need to read this will probably never end up here again, but I want it on the record:

In no way, shape or form do I take this election, nor the issues that are at stake, lightly. And my point was never about staying uninformed, ignoring information, or keeping your mouth shut on learning about or teaching about those issues for the sake of “being nice.

However, I believe VERY strongly that the chances that you’re going to teach someone, or change someone’s mind, or convince them of your point of view when you are insulting them and throwing out barbs about their stupidity (at best, we all know the worst can get so much worse) is close to zero. I’m only calling for a return to some semblance of civility when talking about our fellow citizens in an effort to elevate the dialogue to something that actually resembles dialogue instead of monkeys flinging poo at each other.

End aside.

Luckily, for every negative comment, there have been 10 amazingly positive ones. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is, in this big huge way, to be able to say “I’m not the only one.” To feel like there are others out there, like me, who are saddened by the animosity we’re showing and being shown by people we know and love, and who would like to see that change. And for every negative comment I’ve received, I can just look to one of the hundreds of positive ones to know that so, so many of you feel the same as I do, that I’m not crazy, and that there can be civility and kindness in the midst of political discussion and debate.

Yes, this is important. Yes, there are very real consequences at stake. And yes, we need to educate ourselves, advocate for our positions, and vote.

But we don’t have to do it at the expense of our relationships.

So thank you, to all of you who have read, tweeted, shared, posted, emailed, commented. Thank you for reading my frustration, and for sharing it, and for thinking there’s a better way. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one. And thank you for giving this little blogger an amazing (if slightly terrifying) ride.

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly Adams September 22, 2012 at 8:34 am

I nearly cried when I read your original post. As some of you may know, the Mormon Church has a strict policy of political neutrality. We are encouraged to study the issues and make an informed personal decision, and above all, VOTE. The Church refuses to endorse a particular political party or candidate. In 2009 the official website posted the following, which echoes so many of your themes of civility. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-mormon-ethic-of-civility I thought some of you might find it interesting.

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clarence September 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Your article is very well written and very well thought out.. I used to feel the same way but , the partisanship and the selfishnish has changed my mind on that. To many self indulgent, Too many liars, lots of themI have been asking my peers for about 30 years or more who can you trust, if you have a party for states man who can you invite. Its pretty sad but who can you invite,

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Susan October 4, 2012 at 5:16 am

I very much appreciate your feelings about all of this and don’t disagree. But I’m hoping for advice. I enjoy writing, and used to blog, but I’ve quit blogging for exactly the reasons you talk about. I was too afraid that I would be offending people I care about with what I said. So, I don’t blog anymore, because I found that if I edit my own thoughts and feelings to the extent that they wouldn’t potentially offend anyone…. I have nothing left to write. This is by far the biggest issue I face as a “writer” – in quotes because, again, it is why I don’t actually do it. Could you talk a little about how you find a work-around for that as a writer? Or what you decide you can put out there and what you can’t – what goes too far? Thanks!

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Ginger October 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

You asked some really, REALLY good questions, that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

I hope you don’t mind, but I turned my answer into a blog post because I figured an almost 1000 word comment probably wasn’t the best idea. ;-)

http://rambleramble.com/2012/10/08/writing-without-offending/

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Sue {munchkin munchies} October 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

Unfortunately, I know firsthand exactly what you’re talking about, relating to the original post. It seems that many of my friends (and some relatives) have political views that are polar opposite to my own. As their views and links are posted, it’s almost impossible not to take it personally as they lash out and attack all the views I hold dear. Sigh. It is completely possible to have vastly different views and stay civil and respectful in discussion…if there is one.

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Cas S. October 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m so glad that I stumbled upon your original post. I expressed similar sentiments on my facebook wall a few weeks ago, but the wording was not nearly as eloquent. It’s so easy to either follow the example of the masses, or else to keep silent in order to avoid adding to the problem. You did neither, and your courage and civility are refreshing. I hope that many more people will be able to embrace a better way of conducting political discourse through your marvelous example. Bravo!

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Beverly October 9, 2012 at 7:06 am

I just shared your original post on my FB wall. For many weeks I have tried to figure out what I would write as we moved closer to the actual election. You said it so well for me.

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Laura D. October 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thank you for writing this. I tried writing something similar to this on my FB wall a couple months ago and it dissolved into a few people having a political argument on my wall also. It is a little scary and depressing that people are so antagonistic on this subject. Why can’t we just open our minds and hearts to other people’s opinions and point of view? Thank you again for being strong and courageous enough to write this. God bless you and keep on blogging. We are listening.

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C Good October 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thank you for writing both this and your original post. This entire past year I’ve been slowly distancing myself from friends I used to know from the years I lived in the Pacific Northwest.

Your statement:
“when this political season is over, and the races have been decided, the non-stop political nonsense will die back down to a low boil. But you and I? We’ll still know each other. And I’ll know what you really think…of me.

And how can that not change how I think of you?”

summed up *exactly* how I feel about the increasingly unpleasant, judgmental, and uninformed rhetoric I’ve seen flung around e-mail and social media.

The friends I’ve intentionally lost touch with are the same people I’ve been saying to — for years!! — that I would rather not discuss politics. I have my opinions, they have theirs, whether we agree or disagree there are a thousand things in our lives more interesting than listening to them regurgitate a summary of what they’ve most recently seen on their favorite cable news program.

And they seem to be unable to discuss anything *but* politics. I finally let them go because if their lives are so empty they don’t have anything to talk about except how much they obsess over disliking people they’ve never met, and how judgmental they are towards anyone who doesn’t agree with them — well, I’m sorry for them, it must suck to go through life with such an unpleasant attitude. But that’s a choice they’ve made and I finally made a choice not to be around them anymore.

So thank you so very very much for writing your post, it was great and yes, there a lot of people out there who definitely agree with you.

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Cookiespet October 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

My sentiments exactly! One of the rules in our family is that we do not discuss politics or religion – some of our view are exactly opposite! And, if started, there would be no stopping the vitriol that would develop. I like my relatives but don’t always agree with everything they think. Here’s to you!

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