Monday, December 21, 2015

Safe Spaces...

I've written before about my frustration with Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces and Being Easily Offended and claiming that your bigotry is justified by your religious beliefs and blaming the PC police when you are just being an asshole. It all makes me crazy. There is a real lack of intellectual honesty in the world today. Many people, maybe even most people, don't like their belief systems challenged to the point where they will find ways to avoid the discussion, claiming a need for a safe space, claiming that they aren't being offensive you are just being too PC. Whichever way it goes you are shutting down discussions that could possible challenge your way of thinking.

People my age and older look to college kids as the ones driving this movement. Oh these kids today...


You know how I know it's nonsense?

Because you all do it too.

Look around. We've created a world that is just our safe space. We have news channels that only tell us what we already believe to be true. We have news websites that only report on stories we want to read. And not only that but make sure to spin the information in such a way that it caters to our already set beliefs. And we read them and nod along saying, "See? I was right." No you weren't necessarily right. You just found someone who agrees with you.

We don't look at issues deeper than what can be expressed in a meme or a tweet or a sliced and diced sound bite. We believe what we believe and we find people who agree with us so we can continue believing those things without challenge. We are all subsisting on pablum. Nobody is making us chew.

There is a thing on Facebook right now where you can search, "Show me my friends who like..." and then you can see what or who they are following. When it came out at first people were using it as a joke (poor Nickelback) then a few weeks ago it made the rounds as a way to find which of your friends like political figures you don't and then you could defriend them. What? You aren't defriending them because they post offensive things, you aren't defriending them because you just don't really like them anymore, you are going to defriend them because of who they might possibly vote for? Really? You know that's sort of insane right?

I mean, I get it, I cannot understand how anyone is seriously considering voting for Trump. But have you engaged with those people? Or did you just draw the line. You don't agree with me, you damage my safe little circle of same thought, so you must go. And there is a difference in these things.

I have levels. I have hidden people (used to be an option to "show me less") I have defriended and I have even blocked. I use the handy little button to the right on a post that you can click and say, "Never show me posts from this website" for things that I know are always going to make me grit my teeth and think badly about the person on my friend list who liked it and made it show up in my feed. And it's not just the ultra conservative sites I've blocked, I block the ultra liberal ones too. I have no patience and no tolerance for encouraging willful ignorance. And those sites that post sliced and diced quotes that really don't mean what you think they mean when you read the whole paragraph of text instead of just the 10 words they pulled out? Well, I have nothing for them.

I've also mostly hidden some IRL friends from my feed. People who I know I KNOW are decent human beings who have some really wacky beliefs. Things I would have never known if it weren't for Facebook and that damned public posts thing. When they comment on a friend of a friend's post with a rant against poor people, or liberals, or conservatives, or Obama, or guns, or whatever I just shake my head and wonder, "Do you know we can all see this? Not just the person here who you agree with but all of us because it was a public post so now it's in my feed too?" Because, and this is the sad or hopeful part depending on how you are looking at it, people aren't worse than they used to be, they just say things in public now that they would never have said in front of you before.

I'm a progressive. My friends know this. They know that I believe in social programs. They also know that I am fiscally conservative in that I believe we need to help people who need help but we need to figure out how to pay for that help before we pass that bill. Now my more well off friends don't like my way of paying for things. But that's not been a secret ever. HOWEVER...some of my co-workers and clients had no idea what my political beliefs were. I represented some very wealthy people at times who truly believed in tax breaks and shelters and keeping what was yours never mind you got an awful lot of help getting to where you are. I just kept my mouth shut. When the talk turned to politics if it was a client situation I just stayed quiet. It was appropriate to the situation. Now that I'm retired and some of my clients and co-workers are on my friend list we are discovering that we don't really agree on a lot of things in that area. And that's still fine.

Though sometimes it's shocking.

And sometimes it actually makes me sad.

And I'm sure I frustrate the hell out of them as well.

But as long as it isn't hateful? Well then it's fine. Hateful is where you get the defriend.

Because as much as I rail against them I have a safe space I've created as well.

My safe space includes people who are able to have a discussion about what they believe in without using derogatory terms to describe people who disagree with them. My safe space consists of a lot of context. Context is important. My safe space lacks talking points and sound bites. The world is complex. Issues rarely ever have simple answers. Tl;dr doesn't really work for my safe space. My safe space has people who are vastly different than each other in a lot of ways. My safe space doesn't have room for hatred or ignorance or cruelty. My safe space has room to learn, to change and to grow. My safe space is challenging. No pablum allowed. If you cannot defend your belief, you don't really believe it. That's my safe space.

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