The Perils of Honesty

If people are clueless because they just don’t pick up on things, I accept that. An acquaintance I spoke to recently had never heard of hoarders. I don’t know how she’s gone through her long life managing to miss this serious psychological malfunction, but she has. OK, so she didn’t get that memo—I can see how not everybody is able to follow everything that’s happening in our culture. I didn’t get mad at her, I explained it to her.

But there’s a different, more dangerous kind of ignorance, and that is defiant ignorance. I encounter this more often than is comfortable, and it makes me squirm. This is not merely clueless, this is clueless with a badge and gun. This is not “I don’t know” but “I don’t know, don’t want to know, and do not attempt to contact me again with enlightening information or I will shut down and stare at you blankly.”

At one time I thought it was a disease of people of a certain age. For example, those who refuse to learn how to use a computer, even though it’s essential in order to be a useful member of a volunteer organization. People who refuse to acknowledge that the world runs on computers make it harder for everyone else to communicate with them. But I’ve learned that young people can be just as resistive to knowledge. A young person who refuses to learn about the outside world in a purposeful, prideful way is just as frustrating, and it’s a personality type I’m very uncomfortable around. When each conversation builds a new barrier instead of tearing one down, the less interest I have in trying to communicate at all.

So I write about it. It’s not easy to avoid topics that affect me deeply, whether it’s our forests burning, the general shitty state of affairs on our planet, or a difficult person in my life. I am intrigued by various personality types and when I encounter one that’s especially distinct, I like to think about it out loud. I am careful to keep people’s identities anonymous and confidential, as the point is hardly to direct readers toward a specific person.

This weekend I was tried and convicted by an online community who know nothing about me. They stalk me online, never write a comment, and have never had anything to contribute until I wrote about gaming addiction. Then they came out to attack me, knowing absolutely nothing about me, my relationships, or my history. They’ve told me what a very, very bad person I am. One e-mail I received was a sort of outline of all of my personal faults, all laid out for me so I can begin to work on my wickedness as soon as possible. I couldn’t read it, and trashed it immediately. Wow. I cannot imagine, ever, in any way, sticking my nose into a couple’s personal relationship whom I have never met, choosing sides, and then carrying out a personal assault.

This is my blog and my outlet, and I write, with careful research, about my life. I would never, ever, write insulting comments on another person’s blog. I have never done so and will never do so. If I find a blog distasteful in any way, I leave immediately and do not go back. I do not stalk people who irritate me and then flame them when they write something I don’t like. The blog helps me to vent,  recover, and move on—and sometimes this brings unwanted drama. This is a decision each of us has to make.

I could dump this blog and start a new one with a pseudonym but I just don’t see the point. Posting as a fictional character holds no appeal for me. If people don’t like what I have to say, my heartfelt advice is to go away. You have your own blogs to rant on, so please, use them.

40 responses to “The Perils of Honesty

  1. Why does it bother me?

    Very thought provoking post. I think in this day and age people will attack others through any possible means. I have to say that even though I don’t use my name on my blog, (I do this to stop some people I dislike finding it) I would defend my opinions in person just as strongly.
    I find it absolutely hysterical that people can not see that their own opinion is not the only relevant one!

    • Hi Gary, thank you. Your blog is amazing and you speak your mind articulately and with humor. I love it. I can sense that you would speak your mind to anyone. When the world is this messed up, we have to have a place to rant, don’t we?

  2. Total agree with you. If you don’t like a blog, don’t read it. Why go to the trouble of leaving nasty comments?? I love the way you write by the way!

    • Hi Janna, thank you! Nasty comments will come back to bite you, I tell ya. Once you hit ‘send’ you no longer own them. Much, much better (and more mature) to write about your feelings on your own blog. Nasty comments will never, ever change someone’s mind.

      The pictures you post on your blog are some of the best I’ve ever seen of your home.

  3. For people to have that intense of a reaction to your opinion, to me, it just shows the degree of their insecurity. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, people.

    Okay maybe I’m being a little sarcastic. If you had posted an uninformed rant, that’s one thing. But you didn’t. It was a well thought out essay, open to discussion. They could have posted a respectful comment, but I didn’t see any.

    This kind of thing is always so funny to me, because the internet makes it so easy for people to be foul and aggressive. Take this situation to an open public forum, in person, and they’d all keep silent.

    Please don’t let it stop you. There are so many who enjoy reading your essays.

    • Hi Kay, thank you. There are bloggers out there who write extremely controversial opinions on a daily basis. I have one tiny voice that doesn’t really matter in the big picture so getting nasty mail always surprises and disappoints me. It would be so grownup for them to craft a comment I can actually get something out of. I’m open to it, but not a masochist. You’ll have to do better than name-calling and insults to reach me.

      The Internet has enabled many people to develop the mean streak they apparently already own. If only they would realize that bringing that meanness to the surface to strangers will never, never win anyone over.

      You’ve always been supportive and when you disagree, you express it such a way that I listen. It’s called respect, and it’s how strong relationships are forged. I thank you for it.

      • Whoa.. I can’t subscribe to your comments anymore. It’s filling up my inbox! There’s the proof you’re doing something right.

        And I’m sure you’ve heard what they say – you know you’ve made it on the internet when you have a troll. You have a group of them. I think your voice is bigger than you realize.

  4. I so agree – they need to go away. I want to read your blog because you always, always speak your mind and express yourself so coherently. I may not always agree with you, but that’s a good thing. I’m also not going to write any nasty comments when I do disagree. I am not a confrontational person. I want to hear the other side of the story so I can either change my thinking or reaffirm my own thoughts. This is YOUR blog. And I thank you for writing it.

    • Hi Sandie, I gave up my confrontational ways long ago, unless it’s to intervene when a person, child, or animal is being bullied—that’s when we all should step in. For the rest of life’s annoyances, we have this one little power—we can write about them. I have subscribers who write about very controversial subjects and deal with hate mail on a daily basis, and more power to them if they can deal with it. They have hardened themselves to it, and I’m envious of that. I guess I have to toughen up. Thank you for your comments and your common-sense attitude.

  5. People who are small minded are empowered by the world of cyberspace because they do not have to reveal their own, or for that matter, true identity. If they could only spend their time and energy on doing positive things. Perhaps making someone or something’s life more joyous!

    What I love about your writing is the passion with which you write. It is sometimes fierce and always unabashed. Some may find offense at this writing style and therefore react to it. Please don’t change what or the way you write and please keep writing. You are fun, fierce, honest, and a true breath of fresh air. If someone doesn’t like it that’s just too bad.

    • Hi Bill, yes technology works both ways in regard to empowerment—for some, it helps keep us sane by sharing the issues that affect us all. Yes sometimes I’m agitated—so what—that’s why I need to talk about it. Using technology as a means to smack people down is also a type of empowerment—and there’s so much of it online I can’t help but think what a very angry, combative world we live in. Too many people I guess, and not enough resources.

      Thank you so much for your support and of course your blog, a place many of us turn to for a touch of tranquility.

  6. Like I always say, non permittere illegitimis carborundum. dam smart, them ancient romans.

  7. Ignorance and arrogance seem to attack unnecessarily. Both are best ignored in the blogosphere, I think. Keep writing. There are plenty of thoughtful people who will keep reading and commenting.

    • Thanks Scribbla. I wish I had your talent for writing about the things that affect you with fiction—a gift I simply don’t have. But if I did, oh the things I would write…

  8. Comments should be respect and communicate a clear message relative to the subject being discussed. Opinions are relative only if they are not hurtful. In the world of “open communication” readers feel that since they are not in a face-to-face conversation that it is perfectly okay to criticize with disregard as to the effect that their words will have on others. Being from the old school of thought, this is just not acceptable in real life nor in technologyville. Communication messages reflect so much about a person’s self image; sad, happy, unhappy, angry, insecure, etc. Unfortunately, people feel like the blogs provide a safe stage to vent whatever venom that is in their souls without taking any responsibility for their actions. Disregard such communications and smile for after all — it’s your blog and why make their insecurities and issues yours? Love your writing and blog. Thank you for being You!

    • Hi Lauren, I don’t know who you are but thank you for writing. The people who write these comments do not understand the real world, the part where being a nasty bitch will get you fired. Or perhaps they are so embittered by their lives they resort to online attacks to make themselves feel better. Either way, they have never learned communication skills—perhaps they feel they don’t need to—which is more and more common and very sad for our future. It’s either raging aggression or cowering political correctness. Somewhere along the line the concept of communication has been lost. It would be a fascinating study if it weren’t so destructive.

      I’m with you on choosing your words carefully—and the better you present your opinion, the better you will be received. It seems simple to me. I feel like we are trying to communicate with a bunch of savages sometimes. Thanks so much for your rational and articulate comments—I’m taking your advice and disregarding the poison-flingers.

  9. I have to admit I have edited myself a little too much in some areas because of just this problem. I try to stay away from politics or any other area that might bring the kooks out, but blogging is supposed to be a way of expressing yourself, right? I’ve had some spam comments that were nasty, but they were mostly bot-generated.
    Comment trolls do have a problem, but it’s not with you…it’s them.

    • Hi Harry, I know exactly what you’re saying. Expressing yourself is definitely a catch-22. Whether you say what you feel or keep it bottled up—either way you’re going to be challenged. Hmmm….what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?

      This incident this weekend, and the support I’m getting from my friends, has strengthened my resolve to continue to write about what disturbs me. If I stop, they win, and that’s not an option.

      Thanks for writing—and btw, I love pretty much everything you write.

  10. Ah my friend! I’m sorry! I have been writing much lately about the decline of morality in these United States! The hatred and divisiveness is just astounding, and it starts at the top and rolls all the way to the gutters. Is morality possible without religion? I say YES!!!!! But many are proving me wrong. I feel your pain as do the majority, I say hopefully. But so many live and breathe only in self-interest mode! and to hell with everyone else!

    Little story: I lived in a horrible marriage for nearly 20 years before I made my move to kick him out. I knew we would be divorced at some point, and I watched women around me … in grocery stores, etc. I could tell the divorced women from the others because of an obvious “hardness” to their countenance. I did not want that and prayed accordingly. I didn’t realize then, but that meant I’d have to FEEL the PAIN because what those others had done was “shut down” their emotions. So, that said, I’m glad you still FEEL … even though what you currently feel is unpleasant!

    Your perspective is so wonderfully unique. I thoroughly enjoy your writing, girlfriend, and your photos have a very REAL, very honest quality, too! Do not underestimate the value of your writing here! I do not always comment, but I read everything you write! It’s perfectly fine that you and I do not agree on everything! I have no trouble with that at all and I value your opinion! 😀

    • Barb, you are one of the people I envy for being absolutely true to yourself. As you said, we may not always agree, but how is it that somehow we manage to remain friends? Again, it’s about respect and communication—and maybe sometimes knowing when to shut up. Never once have we dissed each other. Can an atheist and a religious person be friends? Absolutely.

      I know what you mean about shutting down. I feel like it every day as I read the news. These London riots OMG. I saw pictures yesterday of a dog trapped in a throng of thugs and it tore me to pieces. Though people say this isn’t true, it feels like the era we’re living in now is the most violent ever. It’s certainly the worst for me personally, but my parents and their parents suffered much more I know. But there are very, very few people who are not suffering right now in some way, from fear, war, poverty, misfortune, bullies, etc. When people tell me to “just be happy” I want to smack them! I’m afraid “happiness” is no longer a practical goal. Instead, we, along with the rest of the world, are supposed to be content to merely survive. Other people tell me to not read the news. I can’t do that.

      Which is what started this. When I meet young people who do not give a shit about culture, literature, politics, history, geography, nature, self-reliance, learning to speak the language like an adult instead of a child, communicating, or any other kind of knowledge outside of a very small sphere, it disappoints me greatly, as they are our future and it makes me feel trapped. I know perfectly well there are great kids out there—you have one—but I’m not writing about them right now. Maybe someday. And I’ll find my sense of humor again when it’s ready to surface.

      Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement.

      Note: Barb is a former soldier and teacher and has a daughter currently serving in the military.

  11. Hey Darlin –

    Here you are again expressing your individuality and throwing around those personal opinions that are sometimes contrary to the general consensus of a group you may be in the middle of. The interesting thing about that is there will be several people who just go along with the majority, but many of them wish (silently) they could express their feelings as you did. They fear online retaliation of eventually being given the cold shoulder by the masses.

    So……as you said, Toughen up and fear not where you tread as long as you’re true to yourself.

    Cowgirl Up !

    • Hi Cowboy, well it does suck to be flamed. It’s still going on! But I’m so past it now. Most of the stuff I write about isn’t all that controversial, but sometimes writers hit a nerve with an immature or aggressive group of people who live in a tiny world and that’s something we just have to deal with. When you think of all the people throughout history who have been persecuted for their opinions, this is nothing but a puff of smoke in the wind.

  12. I now know what you mean: I have never been stalked personally but I know two people who have, both of whom are in a writing group by another member, now threatened with ‘exile’ of the group whose attacks are now personal; our September meeting when things are going to be put to the vote promises to be very firey indeed 🙂

  13. Hi JL, that seems so opposite of what a writers’ group should be, and not the first time I’ve heard this. Another blogger told me of a writers’ group he had to quit because some of the members were so mean-spirited. Not what you’d expect at all from writers, but then again, when I was doing flash fiction prompts, there were some “writers” who were just plain crazy.

  14. There are good writers (of which you are one) and there are good readers. As a reader, I read the words, the message, the story, the poem or view the images. That said, I can’t say I understand where everyone is coming from, I try, but it is impossible to understand everything with there being so much diversity out there in this medium. I do know and understand, this medium is an ‘outlet’ of some kind for everyone. Be it creative, discussion-motivated or whatever, the most important thing that needs to be remembered is that the person behind the words, behind the monitor, though digital, is a real person. I myself, feel privileged that someone wants to share that which they have created, their life, thoughts and opinions with me. Anyone who has the ‘stones to share their ‘shtufffs’ deserves respectful comments. Discourse is fine, but personal attacks, well that just suggests someone has lost touch with reality, albeit digital or otherwise.

    • Hi Hudson, it’s not only that there’s a person behind the post, but that person could be just as prone to a flame war as the commenter—something I see all the time on political blogs. You read a couple of these comments and quickly realize that absolutely nothing is being accomplished. I don’t know why people do it. Nobody, I mean nobody, is going to change their position by reading nasty comments—they’ll either join you in the attack or join in attacking you. It’s just so stupid and the sign of a very sickly world.

      If you don’t have a well-written, well-researched, polite comment to share, then all this back and forth bullshitting is useless.

      And nobody has to comment at all if they don’t agree. People can be as nasty as they want on their own blogs, or Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever media they think they’re being “social” on.

  15. Well, crap. I run into these creeps sometimes and I just walk out of the room or would trash their emails if they sent me one. So much of the crap is from religious zealots who behave badly and probably need a rebooting about reality. Most are too far gone. To be stalked and then emailed with deluded and hurtful comments is just terrible, Debra. I get so sick of their babble. In class, I cut them off at the pass: this class is based upon naturalism and proof that is plain, material, written and does not violate the laws of known physics. Pity we can’t do that with a few billiard-heads in society. Hang in there.

    • Hi Jack, that’s what they make delete keys for. Some religious zealots behave badly but I’ve received some very nasty comments from atheists (on a previous post) who think there is only one religion to bash and all others are just fine no matter how primitive. But it doesn’t matter what the subject is, it’s the low level of discussion that’s so upsetting. We can’t expect everyone to agree, but they don’t have to be so malicious.

  16. Malicious people are a fact of life, in the blog world, the neighbour next door, they slither out of cracks where you least expect it (my apologies to snakes, you’re alright in my book, sorry for the reference). I have said this before, and I will say this again. You question everything. Yourself. Government. Social attitudes, almost every aspect of life is up for questioning. Does it put you in a perilous position? Yes, but if there is a chance for change it comes from questioning. It’s the only true effective weapon against the ills which afflict us. Even when it flushes out the ‘nasty’ shtufffs there is good to be had. I applaud you. I hope they never get to you, nor silence you. To be truthful, I don’t agree with everything that you write about. Sometime it is a result of my own ignorance. Sometimes it is simply because I refuse to see everything in black and white terms—am always nervous to agree or disagree with some topics, it is for myself just as important to take some time an reflect and consider everything before offering an opinion. And that is what ‘questioning’ does, it makes us think!!! It’s really not hard, one just has to try. Getting someone to see with an open mind is the real challenge.

    • Hi Hudson, yes they are everywhere. Maybe where you are in life affects how sensitive you are to them. When you’re already in pain and people lash out it just makes things worse. I honestly don’t know if questioning everything is healthy, maybe better to go with the flow—but that’s something some lucky people are born with. I’m glad you don’t agree with everything I write—we come from different worlds so that’s to be expected.

      It’s much easier to disagree with someone in person, don’t you think? Facial or hand expressions and tone of voice go a long way in softening your counterpoint. Writing is harder because there are only words, and if we’re not careful it can end up sounding malicious when it’s not meant to be. I’ve had a few of my own comments taken the wrong way and I was horrified, but that’s how we learn to be extra careful.

      Or, we can be openly malicious. And that’s what I can’t stand about the Internet. People lacking writing or communication skills just being shitheads because they can. Ugh.

      Thank you for your open mind.

  17. You’re right people are more visual than they are verbal, in terms of picking up pertinent cues that help convey what they’re trying to communicate. In this digital communication age we have to be more sensitive than ever before, don’t we—or perhaps not. Are many just too complacent to give a rat’s ass? Many who lash out at others do so out of fear. The root of maliciousness is as variable as our individual lives, though that does not excuse it.

  18. Debra – You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t give us your heartfelt opinion! Whether I agree or disagree with you isn’t the point. I ALWAYS learn from you and it gets my mind thinking. That is so important. I thank you for that.

  19. Quiltin' Library Lady

    People who can’t stand to be disagreed with are everywhere. You speak your mind on your blog, don’t paint it all with political correctness and many can’t stand that. Face to face they might get their faces smashed in for blasting someone like they do in blog comments. All I can say is keep it up, tell things as they are. Political correctness will be the death of us all.

  20. after I read the news, I need my Debra fix, I have this awful addiction.

  21. why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

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