There are three types of people in the world today that absolutely infuriate me. They are people who, regardless of their intentions, slow down the solutions process. They are almost completely incapable of staying focused and are the golden retriever running around the backyard every time you yell SQUIRREL! For each group, squirrel is something different, but each time I just want to slap them and scream WHO CARES WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!
Oh Twitter, you love to give me so much good shit, but sometimes you are so full of shit I can’t even stand it. And the shit that I can’t stand that my feed is rife with is the do gooder that just wants you to know things. The best example of this can be centered in the current horrific immigration situation happening at the Mexico border, where asylum seeking families are being separated. Children are being kept in cages and tent cities while the parents are kept in detention facilities I guess? I’m not here to discuss the horror because I just can’t, I’m here to give an example.
So someone says OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE THIS ISN’T AMERICA SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE.
~A historian appears!~
WELL ACTUALLY THIS IS AMERICA *states facts about Native Americans and Asians and schools and internment camps in some long thread with links and pictures*
While I am 100% here for having a historical foundation for understanding current events, what I am not a fan of is someone I have never met (1) assuming I am a fucking moron who doesn’t understand America is built on the blood and tears of native peoples, (2) assuming I didn’t pay attention to some of the most horrific linchpins of American history, (3) THAT I HAVE TIME FOR A FUCKING CONDESCENDING HISTORY LESSON WHEN BABIES ARE LITERALLY BEING TORN FROM THE BREASTS OF THEIR MOTHERS AND KEPT ~SOMEPLACE ELSE~
There is a time for being a “well, actually” smug liberal douche and there is a time for action and I think that we need to stop being assholes to each other online and start organizing and working together in the real world.
You’re online and understandably upset about an issue. We live in the After Times so honestly you can take your pick. Shit is wild everywhere. Let’s say you’re nervous because Trump is stacking the federal courts with his judges that are 10 years younger than judges appointed by previous administrations and look to be affecting federal court decisions for the next 60 years at least. You’re worried about that moderate Supreme Court justice who is talking about retiring, and wondering if the Democrats in the Senate have the balls to hold up a Trump nominee like the Republicans held up Merrick Garland’s nomination (hint: they don’t). You are a long gamer and are worried about what life and laws will be like when you get old.
You post about this. You tweet or write on Facebook or whatever.
~A contrarian appears!~
HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN CHILDREN ARE IN CAGES?!?!
HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN EPA REGULATIONS ARE BEING DESTROYED?!?!
HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN THE WELFARE SYSTEM IS BEING DISMANTLED?!?!?!
And on, and on and on.
The contrarian’s goals aren’t just to change your focus, they attempt to make you feel bad or guilty for wasting your time on one issue when there are so many demanding your attention. Or, conversely, the issue they care about is so much more important and they want to get you on their side and away from that other icky non-important at the moment crap.
Now look. I can care about everything but I can only truly understand a few things at a time, and I’m someone who reads a ton and is on the internet a good portion of the day learning things. I watch the news all the time. I ask questions. I want to be knowledgeable enough about a few things that I can consider myself to be up on it. I don’t need to know ALL the EPA regulations to be able to say “destroying the environment is bad” and so I can coast on that and spend more time on how the court system works or immigration law or even how far federal education officials can stretch before they hit the walls of state control. We all have our niche issues.
SO STOP SHAMING PEOPLE ABOUT THINGS THAT THEY DON’T KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT. Also LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE, LET THEM FIND WHAT THEY WANT TO CARE ABOUT AND BE PASSIONATE ABOUT IN THIS ABSOLUTE HELLSCAPE. We can’t all care about the same things all at the same time or something is going to fall through the cracks. Stop being so self-important and form a community of people who all know about different things and learn from each other.
Often Historians and Contrarians get into fights because historians won’t shut up about their topic and Contrarians want them to care about more things so it’s breadth and depth having a massive showdown which no one wins and kids are still being kept in cages and abortion might be illegal in the next ten years. But keep fighting on Twitter guys, you will discover who is the smartest person in the internet at some point.
Of course we wouldn’t be where we are today if (mostly conservative but some far-left liberal) people hadn’t cultivated the art of “prove it” online. “I don’t believe you, WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES??” And then you scramble to basically make a works cited page for this stranger on the internet to show how smart you are and then they say “Those are all probably biased and it’s not going to change my mind. We’ll just have to agree to disagree OR I have a right to my opinion like you have a right to yours.”
These people will deny facts. They will deny your personal experience. They will deny your education and expertise. They will give you just an inkling that they might be open to understanding, but that’s just bait to tire you out so they can just walk away and leave you frustrated and jaded. We live in an era of ignorance, and it is a cancer that shows no sign of slowing down. It isn’t just ignorance either, it is willful stupidity and purposeful denial of reality.
The denialist will show up in your comments or tweets (if you haven’t blocked them already) and throw out some stupid fucking statement that anyone with half a brain would know is 100% false and conjecture. That’s the worm. I have learned not to bite and to just block them immediately BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO ME. I want to repeat that one more time to those of you who are reading this right now and thinking “come on Amanda, we have to keep an open discourse if we’re going to make anything better.” THEY. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. LISTEN. TO. YOU. PERIOD.
These three types of people, whether you encounter them online or in real life, exist to make things all about themselves, or at the very least to distract you from whatever you are doing. The historian wants you to feel small because you might not have an encyclopedic knowledge of whatever. The contrarian wants you to feel like you don’t care enough and that they care way more than you. The denialist simply wants to turn you against yourself and walk away fed by your wasted and expended energies. All three are complete black holes of wasted time. All three exist to steal your focus and your energy away from the real goal.
What is the real goal?
The answer to this is honestly whatever you want it to be. Like I said, it’s the After Times, so take your pick. Racism, gun violence, school shootings, immigration, corruption, the environment, education, pay inequality, getting Flint, MI some fucking clean water – goddamn just throw a stone and whatever issue it hits first is totally yours! And chances are there are quite a few people and organizations already working towards the same goal that you are interested in.
You can give money, you can give time, you can write letters or call people. I imagine it’s kind of like working for a campaign only you are supporting an issue instead. We live in the era of the internet, and so you can literally type “how can I support gun reform” into google and it will spit out a million things you can use to help you decide what to do and how to act.
You can care about everything, but we have limited resources. Just because you aren’t talking about Flint doesn’t mean you don’t care about it. Just because you aren’t wearing an orange ribbon doesn’t mean you aren’t a proponent of ending school shootings and gun violence. But you have to pick something and find a way to give just a nudge so you’ve done your part to move this giant ball of shit in the right direction. If all we do is tweet and comment and argue online without actually doing anything, that shitball is just going to get bigger and smellier.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we can’t just sit back and do nothing anymore. Having a government that let us do that (for the most part) ended in 2016. Choose the issues that matter the most to you and put your time or money where your mouth is. Something as simple as ResistBot is free and will help you contact your elected officials on a consistent basis. Any of us can handle that. What you do above and beyond that is completely up to you.
Most importantly though, don’t let these three types of people distract you. STAY FOCUSED. If someone you suspect to be one of these three types of people pops up in your feed and starts to bait you, did you know that you don’t have to respond, and if they get too obstinate with you that you can even block them? It’s fucking magical! Find other like minded people and organizations that have your same mission in mind. Follow those people, join those groups, and go out there and make a difference.
The world is watching. People are counting on us. Children are counting on us. Let’s get out there and do something about it.