What if Society is the Bully?
I made the quintessential mistake of making a personal and rather mild comment about the new president elect. In truth I probably should have deleted it when the first comments started rolling in. But then it became like a science experiment. I sat back and watched the results roll in stunned by what I was seeing. It became a commentary on who could be the biggest bully. And I honestly felt bullied.
And these are my friends I said to my husband at dinner. Now before you get pissed off and start formulating a hateful comment in retaliation, just stop for a second and see how a non-bully sees this behavior.
The Problem - Bullies and Bad Behavior:
Certain factions of society have been bullying for a long time now and my silence in receiving nasty memes about President Obama and Mrs. Clinton (some even after I asked them to stop), I’m afraid led my friends into thinking my silence represented agreeance - which it did not. I just got tired of stupid and mean, and ignored them. Now this statement alone will infuriate those who see no problem in sending out hate mail without any kind of filtering as to how it may be received and by whom.
My husband doesn't see the need for me to share my political affiliations but I disagree because I have been hit with the insult many times that I don't understand "things" because I'm not Republican. But in my defense I can say I was. I was a registered and voting Republican until the American public re-elected George W. It was then that I realized the Republican Party was not what it used to be and I refused to be associated with any organization heavy in rhetoric and light on facts.
At that point I decided I could not vote any party line for the sake of party lines and registered as an Independent. Trying to wade through the propaganda disseminated from both parties, is at times, a daunting task. And in my opinion, this should not be inclusive only to Independents. Republicans and Democrats both need to dig deep through their own party crap not just what party leaders are telling them about the other party. For me, not doing so is called ignorance. So now you know where I'm coming from.
Position and Title:
Regardless of whether or not the president I vote for wins or not, I find it to be poor form and totally disrespectful to the person who was elected to not be addressed as president and/or to have their person so terribly impugned. Nature of being a public figure you say? I disagree. I think it is mean and according to all the anti-bullying propaganda being pushed at schools everywhere, it's called bullying. You may say it's your right to be a pusher of hate, but I disagree. You can't have a policy against bullying and have a large number of society being bullies sanctioned by their party and the media as being appropriate.
Hater Will Hate:
Now, let's get to analyzing the hate spewing I saw just on my benign post. What I saw from "one party" was a repeat of hateful memes and comments that I have had to endure about President Obama since he was elected to office. They are just nasty statements about hating the man, few of them factual, and the same for Mrs. Clinton. And I am sure there are plenty about Mr. Trump as well.
I also got to see and learn that the "other party" has mastered being just as hateful as the other with the nasty memes and comments. I think Mr. Trump winning the election put many people squarely over the edge in disbelief. But I also think this has put the Democrats, who I feel have always been political milk toasts, on a more level, albeit disgusting, playing field. I find that sad. And if the Democrats use the last eight years as a baseline indicator, I think the next four years could be even worse.
I also learned that it was okay for those who didn't support President Obama to say truly hateful things whenever and however they want (still do actually) but they are not very good at being at the receiving end of things. Even though Mr. Trump won, his constituents can't seem to handle it when the people who didn't vote for him, don’t shut up and take his winning like they want them to. This surfaced as a lot of condescension and hypocrisy in the comments following my post. It is hypocritical to say he's your president get over it when in fact you never got over the last president being elected.
The Promise of Change:
There was one thing that seemed to be thrown around a lot in the comments that actually had merit but its importance was lost in the hatefulness. It was the need for change. Most all of us want change, some don't, and others want change with calculable risks. I for one embrace change. It is a cornerstone of my business, but I have to know what I'm embracing. Just using the word in a sentence isn't enough.
What I am 100% sure of, however, is that every president up until now has put forth their desire and goals for their term, some even being criticized after being in office because they were unable to enact any changes in those promised areas. I am also quite sure, doing the job from the inside is way different than what is proposed from the outside looking in.
Ultimately, the comments going back and forth just became more personally insulting and hateful, not just towards Obama, Trump or Hillary, but each other. It was just more bullying, as if bullying would change the minds of the opposition either pro or con any candidate or president. The retaliatory responses to my post were off the chart nasty, not necessary, and poor form, their sole purpose meant to bully. And even though I think Mr. Trump is crass and has poor form, I have never said or posted anything as nasty as what I have continually seen about Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton.
So now I had to think about so many of my friends and acquaintances and where our values and moral codes shifted so far apart. I had one friend in particular ask me when I became so liberal. My response? "I think maybe I have always been liberal, that's why I have always asked so many questions."
Have people just become so embittered that they are perhaps using the presidency and politics as a scapegoat as an excuse as to why they are not doing better in their own lives? Or maybe they have exchanged their more carefree young (liberal) selves for their older (conservative) selves?
Solution - Lose Toxic People:
This nastiness, regardless of the underlying causes, also meant I had to take stock of my friends and acquaintances and do what I have discussed with many clients. I had to identify and drop the truly toxic people from my life and with a momentary twinge of sadness I had to unfriend some people. Not all, just the ones who have slid off the reasonable scale.
I don't like politics. I think it has grown into a dividing force in the worst possible ways imaginable. But this election has enlightened those who are listening, to the change in American human nature and culture. This election for me signifies that as a nation we respond to fear, we respond to threats and we respond to hate way more than the Christian values we purport to be significant in our lives. They [values] are like low-lying fruit that gets picked for convenience. As for my immediate family, we agree this entire election has indicated that being a bully really is the new and acceptable way to behave, and in fact, one may even be rewarded for it.
I have no good solution that fixes all that is broken. But you can take care of you and yours. If you dislike the level of hate going on, speak up, but with reason and good form. It is okay to remove yourself from situations and events where you feel unsafe or bullied and to speak to management if that works in your situation. It is okay to voice your discomfort. If you are a hater, you can condition yourself not to be. In every case, we can put ourselves in the place of our brothers. And if you feel we are broken and divided do what you can to bridge that gap.
Unfortunately, we the people have become as divided and ineffective with this election as the government we claim to abhor, and the promise of change (not just in politics) without clear elucidation of what that change is, is similar to a saying my dad occasionally used: "it's just like pissing in the wind. The mess gets everywhere!"