I didn’t start off my twitter existence with any sort of plan. I never really thought I’d end up meeting so many quality friends (I count many people I’ve only ever talked to on twitter as a friend. That’s not weird, its 2011), and I never imagined that I’d write a blog that people took time out of their busy days to read. These things are flattering and humbling, they have also led to a bit of an epiphany.
If people pay attention to the things I say, its about time I start paying attention, too.
The internet provides us with so much real life anonymity (and so much false bravado) that it is really easy to go off and say some shameful things. Its easy to justify these tweets (or comments, blog posts, status updates, etc.) by saying “Its just twitter, no big deal”.
Except it is a big deal. These words are a big deal because the people that you’re talking about, or talking to, are people, too.
Of course, I’ll get the hopeless few who argue that the “truth hurts” and “grow up”, and they’re right. But only a little right. I retweeted @SimpleeKayla yesterday during the Bears/Packers game. The tweet was “Jay Cutler is Mo Williams soft”. That’s both true and an insult, but it isn’t mean spirited or hateful. Its a clever way to poke a little fun at a couple athletes who, by most accounts, need the poking. In my opinion, this is fine. Its funny, true and something that I would say to either of the people involved.
I also saw a tweet that said “Cutler is a homo bitch. Diabetes should finish him off” (I’m not going to tell you who said that, this isn’t a witch hunt). These tweets are awful examples of what the internet has led many of us to become. Not only would this make Jay Cutler pretty emotional, it pissed me off. Its rude, tasteless and the insult doesn’t match the circumstances.
Maybe you think that’s just me being sensitive, but what it really is, is me feeling bad for all the people who those phrases or comments will really offend. Personally, I’m not bothered, but I know people who are, and if I can’t respect my friends while I’m communicating with them, well, that would make me an asshole.
I believe that there is no single group of people on earth that is above some form of ridicule, whether it be humor or not, but that doesn’t mean that I need to be the person doing the dirty work. I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find me being pretty mean to somebody. This post doesn’t make me perfect, or politically correct, it just means that I recognize the need to pay attention to what I say to people.
There’s nothing wrong with being critical, either, and I also fully understand being a little mean sometimes. But slurs and name calling just because you can’t think of any better way to say something is the kind of thing that makes our whole country look stupid. Also, there’s some truth to the Cutler/Williams tweet (at least perceived truth), what’s true about the second one? What’s funny about it? At what point would anyone ever assume the person that wrote it had an understanding of the language (not to mention humanity) above that what a 5th grader would have? Quick answer: that point doesn’t exist.
If you’ve been called out for assholery (early nomination for Best New Word 2011 award), you deserve it, and you should probably apologize. Not because you’re wrong, and not for what you believe, but because the person that needs the apology is exactly that; a person.
Just like you.