‘Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect – and I don’t live to be – but before you start pointing fingers… Make sure your hands are clean!’
– Bob Marley
Yesterday, The Bloke returned from town with an interesting story. A group of Morris dancers (folk dancers who are usually white, middle aged men) were doing a performance – this is not uncommon in lots of areas of Britain (and indeed, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and has been a tradition that has lasted for hundreds of years – and The Bloke had stopped to watch. Within a few minutes a rather angry man with a microphone rushed over and started screaming at them that they were ‘devil worshippers.’ This angry man is present in the city every weekend – he brings a mic and an amp and yells passages from the Bible at people walking past, and most of the time he is simply ignored and left to get on with it. However, the shouting really irritated one of the performers after a while and what ensued was a verbal scuffle, ending with the angry man packing up his things and storming off.
While I never condone violence, I was pleased that somebody confronted the angry man and won, even if the victory was a small one. It won’t stop the man returning next weekend and continuing to shout, but it quietened him temporarily. I dislike having to walk past him when I am shopping as I resent the fact that he is continually allowed to use his religious beliefs to hurl abuse and judge anybody who passes by.
The issue of judgement continually rears it’s ugly head and I have certainly noticed it in the online world. In the last few weeks alone, several posts have prompted enormous reactions from readers who feel that they are being personally attacked for their choice of lifestyle and their response has been to chastise and even vilify the original author. Some of the responses have been enormous paragraphs, some have been a barrage of insults, but one stood out for me in it’s simplicity and explanation:
“Who are you to judge? Don’t you tell me what to do!”
I, like many others, dislike being told what to do. It’s a rather childish sentiment, but I have worked hard to build this life for myself and therefore feel that I have a right to choose how I live it and everyone else should be allowed to do the same. In the past I have been known to become extremely defensive when comments are made. The judgement of others is part of human nature and society – we live within a code of written and unwritten laws and morals that differ according to nationality and religion and as a result there are always going to be differences of opinion, and lots of examples of ‘butthurt’.
I don’t like the term ‘butthurt.’ Being new to the blogging world (my blog is less than a year old) I only became familiar with the word a few months ago in that it generally refers to an extreme reaction to a thought and/or opinion, often prompting quite long and aggressive comments or posts in response. However, the more I immerse myself, the more examples of butthurt I see, and I may be controversial by saying that a large amount of it is counter-productive, rude and pointless.
I’ve written posts in response to others and had posts written in response to mine. In fact, my most successful posts have been created after I have read something that have prompted me with an idea. I love the discussion that can generate from seemingly controversial posts, and I’ve really enjoyed chatting with bloggers who have completely disagreed with something that I’ve written as I have been able to hear another point of view. However, I’ve sometimes found that the dialogue that follows is not about what is said, it is how it is said. Comments that are rude and personal (often made easy to do so by hiding behind a computer screen) instantly make me switch off and I usually avoid responding to these as I know the resulting paragraphs will become longer and move further and further away from the initial point.
I read a fabulous post by Kenneth Justice, AKA The Culture Monk this morning, in which he summarised my thoughts perfectly:
‘Is it too much for me to hope that the Western World can return to a place where we can have positive dialogue over topics that we don’t always agree on? Is it too much for me to ask that we all stop being so nasty when we find out someone believes something that we ourselves reject?’
While we have a right to disagree, I believe that we also have the right to be able to offer our responses in a polite and respectful manner. We all live in our own little bubble, but perhaps the thoughts and opinions of others may open our minds a little to the big wide world that is out there.
And for those who still feel hurt, here is a wonderful form that you could fill out…
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog