Stepping Over the Line

I

I am not a confrontative person. At least, I didn’t used to be. Now I find myself over-reacting to perceived offenses; at one time, I would cower in shock when someone blazed me with anger. Now I shout back, or better yet, flip them off.

The cost of being opinionated and judgmental concerns me when most of the time it really doesn’t matter. I’ll never see that person again and they don’t know me from a garter snake’s hole. Yet it does matter—I care deeply about what others think of me.

Being told you are sweet and nice and calm, yeah, I like that, but only to the husband and a few select friends do I get to show my cynical and sardonic side.

So, when I criticized a relative’s social and political choices—shockingly different from mine and quite unexpected—I couldn’t help myself. But after several such posts from this person on social media, I lost it.

Of course, my relative was offended. So would I be. Reacting as I did on a platform where others could weigh in—others with extreme views—my brief flame ended with me cynically signing off. I was too tired of it to point out the illogical conclusions of a “friend” of my relative. I was shocked to see that my relative has a social media relationship with a person who’s “medical” opinions have been debunked.

It’s odd to think that my relative’s beliefs, so contrary to my deep-seated, educated knowledge, would make me think that I don’t want to be related to them any more. I have enjoyed the few times I have visited. Distance precludes much of that, and I am a loner anyway, as is the husband.

Generally on social media, I am circumspect. On one platform where I have fewer friends and relatives following me, I have the joy of expressing myself. But on the other platform where many relatives and friends spend a good deal more time than I, I stick to pet photos, funny memes and check-ins.

II

Social media, while giving us the pleasure of reuniting with high school alumni, keeping tabs on distant relatives, and cheering each other’s creative ventures, has a dark side. An acquaintance of ours occasionally shares offensive (to us) political memes. (I could share equally offensive political memes from the Other Side, but as I said above, I try to keep out of that social media shit show.) It jars me to see them. So I’ve been blocking these particular posts—at least the platform has an option for this—and I’m not seeing them any more.

It’s not like I completely avoid the opposition’s opinions. I do want to see where these opinions are coming from, and occasionally I peruse the other end-of-the-spectrum’s news outlets. I can’t stay in these places for long without wanting to spit, but at least I begin to comprehend why the vitriol is so poisonous. I understand how, when the current administration’s Plague Policies (or lack thereof) are causing more harm than good, the other end-of-the-spectrum followers get an entirely different take on them. The embarrassingly paltry sum distributed to folks by the Congress of the “richest county in the world” (one of POTUS’s fondest phrases) was equivalent to throwing a penny in a beggar’s cup. Yet, the other end-of-the-spectrum true believers will have no problem blaming the blue side of the aisle for all the failures, just as we blame the red.

It’s a truism. Never bring up religion or politics. When I think the schism between red and blue couldn’t be bigger, I think back to the ’60’s, a time when I was alive. The rancor then was just as vile—from both sides.

In the end, when the Big One hits or a neighbor’s house catches fire, I like to think we will all drop our shields and come together to help each other. Just don’t talk about religion, or politics, when you are bringing over food and blankets.

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About Jill Zeller

The author of numerous short stories and novels, Jill Zeller lives near Seattle, Washington, with her patient and adoring husband, two English mastiffs, and one self-centered tuxedo cat. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination were as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Maybe it is because she was raised as a Christian Scientist. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison

Comments

Stepping Over the Line — 2 Comments

  1. In retrospect the 60’s were redeemed by not having social media. Looking back I shudder to think what my college years would have been like if all the political frenzy had been magnified the way it is today.

    • Yes, I agree, Pence! Social media is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Of course it has many positive sides, but leave it to humans to find the worst ways to degrade any new technology, use it to victimize or make bucks on the backs of others, etc.
      Jill, you are wise to (mostly) refrain from attacking back — I try to do the same, but sometimes I do snap.