Too many times, I speak using words like always, never, all, everybody and so on. These words, in and of themselves, are not bad. But used to paint a broad stroke statement about a group is bad.
Here is an example. The other day, I posted what I thought was a fairly harmless post on Facebook. After a particularly difficult driving day in the city, I came home and posted that I was disappointed with the concept of the “big city” and was surprised at the rudeness I had endured that day.
i was not intending on making a political statement or any statement at all. I was simply frustrated at the fact that driving in my new town has been a challenge for me. Many of my friends replied agreements and told stories similar from small towns and large.
Then came the reply from someone I had offended. She felt that my broad generalization was completely incorrect. She lives near New York City and feels big city people are friendlier than the small minded tourists that visit the city. I read her post and I understood her point although I did not necessarily agree, so I sincerely apologized. I did make a broad stroke generalization and I was wrong. I thought it was over.
Then she wrote back attacking my friends who had agreed with me. She talked with contempt about the visitors to her home town that are rude and ignorant and that they hail from small towns. Then she ended her post by saying that we were probably missing a Trump rally or an anti-immigration rally. Wow, where did that come from? Politics was never mentioned. She basically called me out for my generalization but didn’t she do the same about my friends, me and everyone from a small town?
I was taken aback. I don’t know where her anger came from over a fairly innocent post on Facebook. I surely was not attacking her in any way or the people of NYC. I was just pointing out that the drivers in Asheville are aggressive at times, to be clear I mean some, not all the drivers. I was venting some frustration and apologized for speaking out of turn. She was not satisfied. She immediately unfriended me, the only thing that upset me about that is that she unfriended me before I could have unfriended her.
Honestly, I was not trying to offend anyone, except maybe the person who nearly ran me off the road because they were in such a hurry. I tried to see her side/the other side of the story. I understood what her original point was and I conceded that I was incorrect in my statement. That should really have ended it. It may have been nice if she had tried to see my side, but I didn’t really expect that to happen. But I never expected the continuation of the outburst with personal attacks.
Unfortunately, my travel blog is turning into something completely different. I’m desperately trying to figure out our society but I cannot seem to understand where it is right now. Now I’m not talking about racist remarks. I’m not talking about harassment of any kind, but just simple observations about things happening today. Not everything said is meant to start a fight. Sometimes an observation may have been intended to be funny or cute. I was not looking for a fight that day but I got one. It was also one I was not going to win because my “opponent “ was offended and felt the only way out was to attack me.
There were a couple of things that could have happened.
- I could have kept my thoughts to myself. I am getting less and less inclined to speak anymore for fear of retribution. As a side note, I finally overcame my shyness and now the climate we live in does not tolerate free speech or thoughts that do not agree with the offended party.
- She could have disagreed with my post all together and moved on without saying a word. When I see a post I do not like, I simply keep scrolling. My opinion is not going to change it.
- She could have said her mind. Read my next post to her with my apology and she could have gracefully moved on without making it political.
None of those things happened. They hardly ever do anymore. We see the fights and the name calling everywhere we look these days. I do not expect that everyone will think the same way I do, but I still feel entitled to my believes as I respect those of others. Give and take….does anyone remember that concept? I,at the very least, try to understand your point and you do the same for me. If we agree to disagree, so be it. We shake hands and walk away friends still. No one was called a bad name, no “F” bombs were dropped. We simply disagreed. Those days, I assuming are gone. I am sad because we sometimes learn from others opinions and ideas. Now if they are not my ideas, they are automatically wrong. I’m very sad for our society. Civility is leaving the building.
One thing I did learn from this, and it is a good thing, I will try not to make broad generalizations. They are not good.