Why Is Respecting Others So Hard?

I like to post things which are interesting on my Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, etc. I do it because they made me think and perhaps others will think, too. I hang with a lot of writers and smart people who like to think, so my assumption is, maybe they’ll find this interesting. Just because I post it doesn’t mean I want to get in a long drawn out debate. GooglePlus allows you to disable comments, a feature I really like. Facebook doesn’t. You just have to block people. So I recently posted something and stated: posting this to make you think. I don’t want to debate it. What happens? Someone takes me on immediately.

Now, ironically, this happened on GooglePlus and I hadn’t turned off comments. I figured, why should I have to? People should respect each other. Well, they don’t. And you know, that’s pathetically sad. It indicative of a general cultural problem which has divided our country and our world.

Why do people feel the need to attack everyone they disagree with? I have friends who cross the spectrum of beliefs from gay to straight, religious to Atheist to Agnostic, African to American to Mexican to Brazilian, none of whom are the same and none of whom believes exactly as I do. I don’t go attacking them every time they post something. I respect their right to disagree. If they want to disagree, fine. But personal attacks are so common. Why? I thought we treasured free speech and individualism in this country? Why is everyone so threatened?

I’m not asking why everyone is angry. I’m furious at being constantly disrespected for what I believe. I am furious at being called a bigot and all kinds of things by people who stereotype a group some of my beliefs align me with and generalizing that I must be like the most extreme members of said group. They don’t know but they assume. And it’s infuriating. It’s insulting. I feel bullied. I have always marched to a different drummer. I resent being told I’m just like everyone else because, frankly, I try really hard not to be. I work at it.

So why do we have such a hard time respecting other people today? I don’t have the answer, but I can tell you this much: it often seems like civil conversation is impossible these days and it’s unpleasant to live in a world like that. I think we can do better. I think we should do better. I think it’s worth the effort. And I wish more people agreed and would make the effort. Because the guy who did this to my post tried to force a discussion I said I didn’t want to have. And although I like and respect this person, I feel beaten up and disrespected by his actions. I feel bullied. And that’s not a good feeling.

For what it’s worth…

9 thoughts on “Why Is Respecting Others So Hard?

  1. They are like bullies – they feel they must put someone down in order to make themselves look better of feel better. Or they are just negative by nature, which is just as sad.
    I’ve been fortunate that very few have ever come to my blog and let an argumentative or really negative comment.
    Disagreeing is all right – attacking is not.

    1. In fairness, the person today didn’t attack. They just wanted to debate the link but since I had specifically asked for people to not comment, it felt like an attack. I felt forced into a dialogue I didn’t feel up to. I do agree that generally those people are like bullies. It is sad.

  2. I’m sorry, Bryan.

    There is a dark and powerful and inescapable mojo to being destructive, and too-many people do not have restraint to keep from exercising that dark power.

    I think that online media has allowed that hatred and intolerance to be easier for people to give into. I am not a luddite, far from it, but social media makes it easier to do this. If I don’t have to see you face and own up to it, its easier for me to pour the gasoline on the fire.

    And yes, we should do better. Whether you believe reason and logic and tolerance are the gifts of God, or whether you believe we should rise above our animal bestial instincts to the better part of our natures, we can, and all, should do better.

  3. I think Paul is right in blaming social media. Being anonymous makes being negative so much easier.
    I would also add that our current political climate is also at fault. In an age where everything is political and all argument is a zero sum game, there is pressure to not compromise or change one’s views.

  4. I have to say that whenever I post something on Facebook or Google Plus, I invite people to disagree with me about it.

    One of the hardest things is learning not everybody is like that and that there is an unspoken expectation that they don’t want to talk about it. You stated your expectations outright, but with many people, I can come across as “that guy” sometimes.

    What’s infuriating for me is that even if you invite people to disagree with you, they’ll still be dicks instead of doing so respectfully. Doesn’t happen often, but man. When it does, its hard to not fire back in like manner.

    1. Seems appropriate to this comment so I’m going to quote my friend Howard’s tweet on this topic here: @HowardAndrewJon: Can’t say anything nice? Say nothing at all. Advice I learned at 4. Don’t always assume someone w/a different opinion’s a jerk — To me it’s a good rule to follow and standard to live by. (Not aimed at you Chris, but something that seems apropos to add to what you’ve said here)

  5. I think it’s a lot like what happens when people get behind the wheels of their cars. Ordinarily mild and/or reasonable people can become very different, when they’re driving. Ditto for when they’re on social media. They’d never call you names to your face, but they’ll call you all kinds of horrible things from behind the safety and security of a keyboard. And in many instances I suspect they’re not all that serious about it, they’re just scrapping for a scrap, if I may use that phrase.

    But yes, it’s a drag watching people who’d otherwise be your friends — nice people, often — turn into angry or even hateful attackers on the web. It’s happened so often (in my observation) lately that I feel like I sometimes should just divorce myself entirely from the internet for a month or three. Re-discover the trick of living without all this instant connectivity which seems to be as good as driving wedges between us, as it is at bringing us together.

  6. Ironically, I’ve had to delete a couple comments people tried to post which were nasty on this. People really don’t get this is bullying. Interestingly, they were hiding behind fake names as they posted. Cowardly.

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