There are many things that make me seethe, or, at the very least, roll my eyes a great deal and I would like them to stop before I grind my teeth into powder or twist my optic nerve into a pretzel.
That’s a very angry way to begin, so let me try again.
There are three things I know about humans.
The first is that they are fallible. Hell, I’m so fallible that I had to look up how to spell the damned word (again). It’s fine. It’s what we do. It’s how we learn to, or not to, do things. It’s fine. Really. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Everyone’s accidentally used cornstarch instead of corn meal, subscribed to Columbia House, or forgotten that, oh yeah, rent’s due, so I shouldn’t have bought $500 boots the other day. It happens. Sometimes, you might even get caught picking your nose while at a traffic light, or fart in front of your boss, or not notice you spilled yogurt in your lap until hours later when you’re under blacklight in a nightclub. Ah well. For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?
Everyone is a little foolish sometimes. It’s totes fine. I live it every day. I’m still here.
That having been said, people are really too apologetic for their actions and words. I don’t mean that people apologise too much if they are being straight-up dickish, because frankly dickish people rarely apologise enough, or deciding it was appropriate to teach a kindergarten class how to distill their own liquor, or to step on frogs on purpose, but there is 100% no reason to apologise for, say, liking something (even, and it pains me to say this, Nickelback or grapefruit)* or disagreeing with someone.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think you are right about the Moon landing being faked.”
“In my own personal opinion, the Moon landing was not faked.”
“You could not be more wrong. Even the Soviets think that NASA accomplished the fucking mission, jackhole.”
All of these are annoying ways to reply to something asinine. The last, most profane and jerky one annoys me the least, however. If you know your shit, own it.
But don’t ‘own it’ in a woolly way.
What I mean is this: “In my own personal opinion” is, pretty much, the worst phrase in the English language. If it’s something you believe? Just say it. If you write “Barack Obama is in over his head”, people will automatically gather that that is your opinion, hopefully gleaned from outside information and concluded via careful thought, but not necessarily. “In my opinion” can be somewhat useful, if you are trying to distance yourself from, say, your workplace’s official line, or your spouse’s terrible plan to forgo indoor plumbing, but it’s not really THAT necessary either. “My own personal opinion” is, like, three times redundant. Don’t say it. Don’t write it. Please.
Finally, people’s opinions are, or at least should be, changeable. Don’t be afraid to be proven wrong. Hell, last night Richard was quite right to point out that, in fact, I didn’t even know the right TITLE for ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’. I admitted, like a (slightly embarrassed) boss that I was wrong.
(I have no clue how I grew up in the 1980s with a gay brother and have so little knowledge of Duran Duran, though.)
It’s not always that easy, obviously, because, y’know, shame, guilt, feelings of not doing anything right since you learned to tie your shoes. And sometimes people get trapped in a prison of their own worldview, or, worse, someone else’s (I once had someone ask me how to decide how to vote, because she always just voted for the same person her ex-boyfriend did) and can’t fathom a different way, and that’s terrible. Sometimes people just need the right Snopes link to convince them that Starbucks doesn’t hate people who served in the Armed Forces, or vital information from Popular Science to convince them that climate change is a thing and indeed partly humanity’s fault. Some people are too stubborn to even bother to consider opening their mind just a little bit. Don’t be one of those people. Try to learn things. If you aren’t sure enough of something to say it out loud, or even in a Facebook status, sit on it for a while and find some answers. Or, hell, don’t say anything at all. Not even ‘presented without comment’.
(And, seriously, folks, you don’t even have to reply to hilarious things on social media with ‘that’s so funny’. DUH, OF COURSE IT IS WHY ELSE WOULD I POST OF FOXES ON A TRAMPOLINING. I’M NOT TRYING TO END PARLIAMENT PROROGUING HERE. I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF POWER AND NOW I’VE GONE ALL STEF. (Love ya, Stef.))
My friend Shannon, whom I haven’t seen in about a million years because she lives in Iowa and I live in Ottawa and somehow that’s light years apart, posted this yesterday: ‘I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t drop the convention of asking every single person we encounter in a day how they’re doing. 98% we all lie and respond that we’re fine, and at least half the time we don’t listen for the answer.’
Although I think it’s nice to check in, yeah, she’s kinda right. In my personal opinion, I prefer ‘what’s new’ or ‘Hello’ or ‘OMG, people are RIDICULOUS, I got this customer email today…’, myself. I’m kind of annoying that way. Sorry.
*Obviously, this does not apply to things that are dangerous to society or individual people and creatures. Y’like killing? Maybe keep that under your hat and seek professional help.