My Vow of [Internet] Silence

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So, I’ve found that I’m a lot braver on the Internet. Like most people, I am a lot more comfortable expressing my opinions, confronting others, and getting into arguments (constructive or not, though I try to stick to the former). The problem is, 99% of the people I’m Facebook friends with, or follow on Instagram, I know in real life, and sometimes I get keyboard-in-mouth syndrome…

After I got out of the Navy, I got way more into politics (my fianc√© and I concluded that this happens because most vets have more time on their hands and nothing better to do than watch CNN/FOX/MSNBC all day), and I began expressing that opinion, and “challenging” (read: arguing with) my friends who posted things I didn’t agree with. Which happened a lot. I love my friends, but a lot of them were posting really radical, propaganda-based garbage and basing their opinions of politicians from them. I personally am a political moderate, I lean towards conservative on some issues, and think more liberally on others. I thought (and still think!) that those that have more moderate views of how our government should function are the ones who are the most reasonable, those with the best chance of making everyone equally happy (or at least equally unhappy…).

I’ve lost friends over conversations about the things they post, which sucks because I really tried to make it clear that I didn’t have a problem with their opinion, I had a problem with how they came up with it! Which I still think is okay, but I admit, I got snarky. A lot. And when you get snarky, people tend to get snarky back, and it gets ugly.

About this time last year, I took a break from Facebook. I didn’t log on, I deactivated my account, and I had no access for a week. It was interesting, not having contact with people, and not checking it every five minutes like I do when I’m bored. I thought about doing that again, but I don’t think I really learned anything from it, except how else to occupy my free time.

So this time, I’m keeping my account active, I’ll still log on and see what my friends say, but I will not “like” or comment – on anything. I need to teach myself how to observe without commenting, kind of a 21st century version of an active listening exercise. I want to control my impulse to throw in my two cents all the time. I want to give my poor friends a break from my incessant commenting (positive, constructive, encouraging, or not). Most of all, I just want to know that I can do it. It’s easy not to comment on stuff when you can’t even access your account, I need to know that I can see (and by that token hear) a conversation going on that I may be really interested in, but not join in. It’s gotten me into trouble entirely too many times, and I end up feeling like a total ass.

So, to any of my social media friends reading this: I’m still here, I’m just being creepy and reading everything you say and not commenting on it ūüėČ

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i don’t have a problem with your opinion, i have a problem with how you came up with it…

Whoa, it’s been a minute.¬† Lots of schoolwork, graduating in February, I guess you can say I’ve been busy.

So whenever something political is all over the news, whether it be an election, a scandal, a shutdown, whatever, people come out of the woodwork with their opinions on this or that.¬† It’s come to my attention that there’s a lot of people who arrive at some conclusion and form opinions on stuff they know absolutely nothing about.¬† That scares me, because these people vote…

I consider myself politically moderate, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have really strong opinions, but I’ve learned in the past few years that while having really strong opinions is okay, you should probably make sure you know enough about the subject before forming an opinion on it!

The strength of your opinions should vary directly with your knowledge of the subject.

Now, it’s definitely possible to know a lot about something and not have an opinion on it, and it’s also clearly possible not to know anything about a subject and have an opinion on it (just look at the comments on any Politico Facebook post…), but I think the latter is the reason we’re having so many issues regarding the US government.¬† For crying out loud, have you seen¬†some of the videos of Congressmen¬†blithering on about the most ignorant, asinine stuff???¬† Check out this Daily Show clip of Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) on the floor of the Senate (starts around 2:20): Shutstorm 2013: America Sits on Its Balls – Colorful Analogies

“That is the best evidence yet that our Congress functions at a kindergarten level…”

Yes. Yes it is.

In the Age of Information (or, as I like to call it, the Age of Ignorance and Entitlement), there really isn’t an excuse for not doing your research before forming an opinion (or voting…).¬† However, biased and partisan media organizations – big and small – can make it difficult to determine what the truth is in a sea of embellished, skewed, slanted, and sometimes straight up incorrect information.

And it’s both¬†sides doing this!¬† The uber-liberals are crying for more social programs to help people, but they don’t seem to have a ton of ideas on how to pay for it…¬† The extreme conservatives are stressing Second Amendment rights and personal responsibility when we have people with serious mental illness killing innocent bystanders and cancer victims declaring bankruptcy before finally dying of a terminal disease they couldn’t afford to treat.

Nobody likes being told what to do, but when you live in a nation of idiots (yes, there are a lot, even the idiots agree that we are a nation of idiots, they just don’t think they’re the idiots) who want everything both ways and would rather be on food stamps with an iPhone than off them without one, there comes a point when someone has to say “enough.¬† You’re pissing me off, and if you’re not going to do it yourself, then I’m going to do it for you.”

For example, the issue of the uninsured: there are many factors contributing to a person’s lack of insurance.¬† For me, it was because I was denied due to a pre-existing condition as a disabled veteran, and I could only work part-time due to school, and my employer didn’t offer healthcare options to part-time employees.¬† For others, they simply can’t afford it, even if they were able to get it.¬† There’s also the people who “live on the edge,” and feel that accidents and illness¬†happen to other people, but not them, so they just don’t get it.

I compare the issue of health insurance to car insurance.¬† If you don’t have car insurance, and your car gets damaged in an accident, you can take it to a mechanic and say you can’t pay, but that mechanic is going to say “sucks to be you,” and not fix your car.¬† The issue of healthcare doesn’t work that way.¬† If you’re in an accident, are taken to the hospital with a life-threatening wound, and say you don’t have insurance, they still have to treat you.

So, I don’t have a problem with people who don’t want to get medical insurance, but you’d better not be seeking treatment when you can’t pay, because that has massive consequences.

For the people who want health insurance, but can’t get it, the ACA is awesome!¬† It’s affordable, all-inclusive, and you don’t have to worry that you might get into an accident and not be able to pay.

But you can’t get something for nothing, so yes, you have to pay, and yes, if you don’t have your own insurance, enrollment is mandatory, but that’s the only way this system works!¬† I am completely baffled by how both parties don’t seem to understand the concept of payment.¬† If conservative Republicans cut taxes the way they want, we would have a government, but no services!¬† How would you like to pay taxes to pay your representatives’ salaries, but not have roads, EMS, or utilities?¬† Does personal responsibility extend to those services??¬† On the other side is the liberal Democrats that want to take care of everyone, but don’t realize how much those programs cost – and are abused!

My point is: having an opinion is good, I may not agree with it, but I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong – unless it’s painfully obvious that you don’t have a clue what you’re taking about.