Mowing down psychological tall grass and tangled weeds; clearing the field and planting new seeds. Thoughts lifted from my angry days, when someone asks my opinion and then denies it. If I tell you my favorite color, who else would have the "right" answer? Challenge it, oppose if you must, but to correct it is to erase my existence. If we all had the same thoughts, there would be no need for democracy. Cogito Ergo Sum.


People will die. Those remaining will yawn and continue on as before

Blogging is a strange beast; I'm not so deluded to think that before we all had the freedom to say whatever we wanted and be heard by a larger audience than ever before, that the world was more peaceful and harmonious place. But it wasn't so easy then to prove that even though it's easier to talk to anyone than ever before, now there's nothing left to talk about without some form of violence.

I've learned in recent years that most Americans only get along at the level we do because we're too shallow to even know who each other is in the first place. Once we start "sharing" our true feelings, all of this networking tears apart as many relationships as it creates.

We only maintain the most minimal of contact precisely because to know how much we would find out that we hate each other over things we never knew. I have not yet come up with the right word for this yet - the opposite of networking - "splintering", maybe. Although the internet has allowed us to reveal more of ourselves and meet new people with like minds (networking), and in the end made it harder and harder for there to be any interaction at all beyond the weather.

(I was going to say that at least we can still talk about the weather because the weather can't be blamed on anyone, but then I thought in the context of climate change, you and I both know two people can find that as a reason to burn a friendship to the ground)

What is overwhelming me is the realization that given the vitriol, abject hatred, and dehumanizing indifference between total strangers, now lifelong friends who are finding more out about each other than they knew before,  and becoming strangers by neccessity. Until we "shared" so much, it was not yet obvious that the only reason any relationship existed was because we didn't know who each other was.

"Friends" I thought I had 25 years ago reintroduce themselves into my life through Facebook, and when I read their profiles I have to close my mouth to keep my keyboard clean. Really? People have somehow never figured out that if one's views on life and society involve a lot of hatred, condemnation, and vitriol of "them" in the abstract, sooner or later one of "those people" will turn out to be someone they once thought of as a friend. One can hate the figurative, rhetorical "Them" as an ambiguous and anonymous construct, but once you find out that a friend you've had for decades falls under the same classification, aw...crap, really?

By then its a little late to walk backwards to that moment when I wasn't "them" in the eyes of a friend.

"oh, well, I don't mean that about YOU, dear friend, but I do have those views about __________ (insert generic classification here)", and they subconsciously switch on the cognitive dissonance and ignore that their old friend is a member of "them".

Cognitive dissonance is a sinister beast; it allows people to internally ignore two contraditory thoughts within their own head. Blogging has now become so personal, with Facebook and Twitter and all manner of political and religous blogs that when the fury and antipathy being expressed about "THEM" suddenly reveals itself as a living, breathing, walking, talking example of humanity with a name and a familiar face - well, now the shit hit the fan, didn't it?

Pointing the fan in a different direction or running it backwards does little to bring the shit back to it's original anonymity.

Somewhere in my past was the adage that "polite people do not politics, religion, or sex". Sex is the one that, believe it or not, is the least volitile of the three; you can at least be vague and although the conversation dies quietly as long as specific details were left out; but they'll at least get the idea and nobody blushes or leaves the room.

Politics, and now that religion has been "married" (ha!) to it by one political party, has now made almost every innocuous conversation to ultimately be a series of zero-sum equations; for one point of view to "win", the other must "lose". And of course, the views all have to be farther and farther toward the poles and away from one another to have any significant reason to be attractive or repulsive enough to sway people's views in the first place - every comment is a live grenade, and the grenades are bigger, now with more shrapnel!.

What depresses me - and I hate that word "depressed", I wanted to say "demoralizes" because that's more accurate, but it's deeper than that - is that we literally have to lie about who we are and how we feel to have any peace at all.

 In a court of law, the crime of perjury is committed even in the absense of evidence; if you know something and you don't reveal it (and it can be proven you knew it and did not reveal it when asked under direct examiniation) that's against the law. But in polite (ha!) conversation, one had better leave all but the most evident characteristics of your personality and beliefs out completely, or already have your path to the exit cleared or some kind of weapon within reach. The more someone knows, the more reason they have to attack you, hate you, or distance themselves from you. As a result, now that we have more ways to communicate than ever before, the conversations have become so shallow and empty of substance that they're effectively worthless. Anything more substantive than that is too volitile to mention at all unless your health insurance deductable has been satisfied for the year.

Makes "freedom" (TM) and "liberty" as professed by all those self-proclaimed patriots kind of a joke: I may have the "freedom" to say a lot of things and the "liberty" to hold certain views, because the civil code is not permitted to interrupt me; but if the crowd I'm standing in at the time I feel inspired to reveal a particular idea simply will not tolerate it, it matters little that the law protects my opportunity to express it.

I got into a flamewar online about religion; people who are absolutely horrified that anyone might belittle or disparage their faith/religion - even if it's not about them specifically, but rather words and actions of another who represents their faith - were feeling put-upon and claimed there was "bigotry" against religion in the room. Those same people have utterly no awareness that it is their own position that has presented a zero-sum situation; their views are sacred, and they must be allowed to assert and defend them; yet at the same time those people don't recognize, or don't acknowledge that it is their view who have excluded, condemned, or ridiculed anyone else.






Those are all off the table. Of course, they're all still issues that directly or indirectly affect each one of our lives, but now we can't talk about them lest someone be offended. And the frequency with which someone is easly offended (while utterly oblivious to how pointed their views belittle and offend everyone else) is getting too much for me to endure.

I don't mind a conflict when the rules are the same, but that's not what's happening.

Religious people talk of "bigotry" against their faith; yet they have no understanding that if their faith is as much "truth" and "proof" as they insist it is, that makes everyone else but the other members of their faith quite a fool and, according to their faith, destined without hope to quite a miserable eternity. They will tell you not to quesiton or challenge or belittle their faith for they find it offensive; yet they can't understand why it might be offensive to me, that if their faith really is true, my future is going to be horrific and unthinkably tortured. In fact, I am sure that's the point that those who embrace their faith want everyone to know - in the abstract. Christians want all the apostates, atheists, and members of any other religion to know that anyone but a 'good' Christian will face Hell for all eternity - at least to everyone who's not in the room.

When I say to my "friend" - "hey, you do realize that you're talking specifically about me, right?" - suddenly they looked shocked, as if to say, "well, I did not want my friends to suffer, but...(long, awkward pause)...yes, that is indeed what my religion says, you will suffer in Hell".

Gun rights, abortion rights, taxes - they've all become zero-sum conflicts that are as intractable as the alleged tortures of Hell. Either one side wins, and they care not who loses as long as it's not them, or the whole conversation has to be scrapped. If the conversation goes on too long, and suddenly it's obvious that the "THEM" who are so reviled by one group happens to turn out to be represented by a few of the people in that very everyone has to look at the walls, the table - anywhere but directly in the eyes of the others in the room who were just revealed as "them" -

You have your views; I have mine. Generally, we never interact. Each of us has our own 'circle' of influence; people who have interaction and influence on us through their behavior, and we have our own power to affect the lives of others through our interaction with those people we encounter in our daily affairs.

Normally, most of that interaction only occurs at the shallowest levels; "how's the weather", "who won the game last night" kind of stuff; and since not much of that is any big deal, not a lot of conflict arises.

But now that "freedom" (TM) has been somehow adopted to mean that each individual has the unalienable right to think and act on whatever they want without reservation or apology, there's suddenly a lot more of bricks being figuratively thrown at people's heads and a lot more occasions where the room just empties out and acquaintences are abandoned just to keep the violence at bay.

I've grown grim, very grim.

We - humankind - has more ways to communicate, easier ways that happen instantaneously across all boundaries than ever before; and it seems we're only using them to divide each other.

I wrote a blog post the other day that included a change in the name of our country:

"The United States of - You Gotta Be Kidding, Right?"


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