The Age of Opinion Shaming (or, Why Conversations Fail These Days)

Whatever happened to standards? I’m not old by ANY stretch of the imagination, but this new trend of calling everything “shaming” has reached epic levels of annoyance, at least with me. The term “slut-shaming” is the single most bothersome term that I know, mainly because it is exclusively used in regards to women (and Lord knows that men are sluts as well). Every time I hear it, it’s like fingernails against a chalkboard while Iggy Azalea is playing on repeat during a Trump rally. It is God-awful. These days, everything you say is going to offend someone, and being honest here, there are many things that are offensive, such as Donald Trump, police brutality, and the Philadelphia 76ers. It seems as if many in society want you to walk a padded tightrope (which is only padded so that your steps don’t make any noise to offend anyone else), but in reality many appear to feel it is their right to attack anyone who has a different opinion than their own. I have a serious problem with that.

One thing this country got right is free speech. Anyone has the right to say what they feel, dress how they feel, live how they feel. What people seem to not understand, however, is that freedom of speech does not grant you freedom from criticism. For example, if you’re overweight and put on clothing that would better fit someone half your size, you can do that. But you also know that if you wear that outfit front row at a comedy show, you are asking for trouble. Plus, you knew good and damn well those size 34 jeans were NOT the way you should’ve went when your jeans pulsed in rhythm to your heartbeat. But instead of calling a spade a spade, these days someone would likely accuse you of “fat shaming”, making a person feel bad about their weight.

 

I understand defending the rights of others to express themselves. I am a staunch advocate in that area. What I will not tolerate, however, is people attempting to bully anyone into feeling bad when they call out things they don’t agree with. Those are called opinions, and last I checked they were legal. The true issue isn’t opinions at all, they are people’s egos and the inability to hear someone else’s view before already having your mind made up. What is hilarious to me is the irony in the fact that people will use their opinions/beliefs to bash or cyberbully someone for sharing THEIR opinion or beliefs! You don’t have a problem with people owning a closet full of shoes while they make poor financial decisions? Cool. Then why be offended and attempt to deprecate someone who does? Think people should be able to dress however they want and show off whatever they wish on THEIR body? Awesome! But you don’t get to badger someone who believes people should have more discretion with how they dress. There was this thing that adults used to do a while back called “have intelligent discussions”. Nowadays, our society appears to have the “gotcha” complex, where cynicism, one-liners, and implied aggression from behind a keyboard constitute an intellectual conversation. Social media (which wouldn’t exist, by the way, if not for the innate human desire to express our thoughts, beliefs, likes, and opinions) has become for many a platform on what to tell others to do instead of to have engaging conversations. One of the best examples of this nowadays is the debate over the Black Lives Matter movement. I have a good friend (let’s call her Susan, since I don’t have the money to be sued by anyone) who is a staunch advocate for police, which is totally understandable since she comes from a family of police officers. My stance on the topic is that systematic racism exists throughout the entire nation’s militarized police force, and that while there are many great officers across this nation, unarmed black men and women dying at the rate of one every twenty-eight hours is a travesty and a clear sign of excessive force and abuse of power. We have had some rather heated engagements, but even during those debates, there was a level of respect that was never broken, and we genuinely listened to the other. The more that we talked, the more evident it became that we actually had more in common than not: we both believe there are great police officers who get a bad rap, everyone who claims to be a BLM supporter isn’t helping the cause, and we both believe that cops who kill wrongfully should be put UNDER a jail. It’s amazing what can happen when people actually talk TO each other instead of AT each other.

It’s also amazing what happens when people ONLY talk at each other versus having their mind made up before uttering a single word to the other person. In my dealings with the underbelly of the digital world (as I call it), I have dealt with death threats, name calling (apparently I’m a misogynist, chauvinist racist according to some), hostile and belittling comments, etc. AND THIS IS FROM PEOPLE I HAVE KNOWN. These attacks to me come off as both comical and confusing, and make me wonder about the mental well-being of the individual on the other end of the computer screen.

 

I believe if the only requirement to being famous is fucking someone else who’s already famous, Monica Lewinsky and Steadman should be the two biggest celebrities on the planet. I believe that every kid shouldn’t get the same trophy when the kid that won the race lapped the entire field and the last kid that ran the race just finished as you’re reading this sentence. I believe kids should close their mouths when adults are talking, and that any child that pops off to an adult disrespectfully deserves to have their teeth knocked out. I believe “slut shaming” is the dumbest term in use to date, because a) sluts are not and should not be restricted to defining women, and b) slut praising makes no damn sense. If who you screw is your business, keep it to yourself. I believe reality TV shows are a waste of brain cells. I believe that we as a collective are, in many instances, becoming dumber and dumber, while simultaneously bullying many who speak out against things that they see. I also believe that any individual has the right to live as they choose to. But don’t think for one second that freedom of speech and exclusion of criticism are synonymous. Personally, I miss the days when celebrities had talents that didn’t involve a camera and their clothes being off.  I am not here for the Kim Kardashian’s and Amber Rose’s of this world, and your disdain towards me because of that should be just as important to me as my opinions of Amber and Kim are to them. If you want to watch reality shows, have at it! But the same way that you would tell me I have no right to “slut-shame” sluts of both genders, you have no right to attempt to bully me into feeling the way YOU feel. If something isn’t my cup of tea, you aren’t allowed to make me swallow your way of thinking. If we can get over ourselves for a minute, realize that being perfect is not a requirement to having an opinion, and add to that the ability to listen and see someone’s point that isn’t your own and have an engaging conversation minus the childish antics, we as a society could one day become less egotistical and believe that we can learn from someone other than ourselves. If you have a problem with anything I say, come at me respectfully and as long as I have the time, we can discuss both of our views and hopefully learn from each other. Otherwise, kiss my ass and keep it moving.

 

But hey…that’s just my opinion.


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