Know Me, Love Me

Hey, thanks for coming to my Soapbox Derby, AKA my blog (go to the WHAT’CHOO TALKIN’ BOUT? tab for a list of past blog posts). If you’re looking for actual Soapbox Derby information, you’ve come to the wrong place. I have nothing to do with racing or building things, other than tension and controversy, with a touch of laughter. No Soapbox Derby info here. I call it that, because once I get on a good rant, it’s hard to stop me. So, if you’ve come looking for an extremely opinionated and highly observant individual who has a love/hate relationship with people while still loving humanity, you have found it, but you have still probably come to the wrong place, because there’s a good chance you won’t like what I have to say.

I live by a certain set of values, have no problems expressing my dissatisfaction with the world, and sometimes I have a weird way of looking at things, and so naturally, I am acquainted with many people who would quickly click the “DISLIKE” button, if only… If only they didn’t have to interact with me. If only they didn’t have to feel forced to consider me a friend-of-a-friend. If only they weren’t related to me. If only I had a “dislike” button.

Not you, though; you’re here because you chose to be (or because you were looking for Soapbox Derby information). You’re a *real* friend. Not like those phonies who can’t take the education I force on them, but still feel the need to stay connected to me somehow, just in case I’m right about stuff (spoiler: I’m always right about stuff) and some shit goes down (spoiler: some shit always goes down) that they can’t figure out (spoiler: they can’t figure it out) because they haven’t been listening to me!

I like to point out injustice, which is not always rooted in my own experience, because I feel humans as a species should recognize what is happening outside their own ego. People don’t like that point of view, because it reminds them that they haven’t been looking at the bigger picture, and we (as a species) don’t typically like feeling like we’ve been missing something. That doesn’t stop me from continuing to piss people off with this very thing.

As Paul Newman once said, “If you don’t have enemies, you don’t have character.” I’m not sure what Paul Newman ever did to anyone that would warrant that large of a statement, but I know his salsa is where it’s at, so he’s made no enemy out of me. Perhaps Paul Newman was like me in the way that he was just so damn charming and funny and witty, that you could likely overlook his sharp tongue until it was directed at your core values.

Facebook saves people from that. Ideally, I think my facebook friends are happy to be friends with me. I think this, because they have the choice to be my friend, and even though I do get unfriended quite often, I have held a pretty steady group. But there is this little feature that allows my friends (who don’t like some of my more uncomfortable topics) to not listen to me (can you believe that shit?) and that’s the “unfollow” button. It’s a funny little “social” tool, that really has no direct translation into society. I wonder what that would look like in real life? Like, I start to talk about something that bothers me, and the friend starts thinking “whoa, I don’t like where this is going.” Do they just walk away? Do they say anything? Do they give the thumbs down? What is the physical equivalent? Can you consider someone a friend if you disagree with them so wholly, that you have stopped wanting to hear from them altogether?

Friend: “I like you, but I never want to talk to you, or see you, or hang out, or know anything about your life. We can still be friends, though.”

That shit doesn’t work (trust me). BUT… I know I say a LOT of “inappropriate shit”, and it can come across as insensitive or abrasive to the average reader. I don’t recognize comfort zones outside of basic civility, and unless otherwise noted, I don’t like to single people out. I just don’t cater to my audience, and hope I’m not expected to do so. I mean, if you expect that I will, that’s fine. I just won’t anyway.

I can be fairly blunt about things that most people creep around. I don’t like creeping, because, well, it’s fuckin creepy. I also don’t like to censor myself in my speech, because I live by the “what you see is what you get” rule, where I give 100% of my real fiber in everything I argue. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll apologize. But I’m going to say a lot of things in my life, and this blog is merely an extension of that desire to rattle on, only I use parentheses to indicate interjections you may have otherwise been able to enjoy audibly.

I think I’ve adequately covered the fact that I say things you won’t like. I can argue until I’m blue in the face, and beyond, and if you’ve truly changed my mind in some way, I will credit you enough to let you know. Otherwise, if you haven’t heard the words “you’re right” come from my mouth, it’s probably safe to assume I’m standing by my opinion. Speaking of that word…

Definition 2a of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary entry for the word ‘Opinion’ reads as follows: 2a :  “belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge”

This is just one definition of many similar phrasings, all with the same basic meaning. The part I want to emphasize, is “less strong than positive knowledge.” Far too often, people demand that someone ‘prove’ that their opinion is validated in some historical hard evidence. If the opinion had been proven to be true, it would be a fact, and thereby subject to a whole different discussion altogether. *Everyone* is entitled to their opinion, regardless of how intensely I might argue against it. I believe that you are just as entitled to your opinion, and all of the emotions and benefits and repercussions and beliefs and actions that result from it, as I am to mine. I would never tell someone that their opinion is of no value, however uneducated it might be.

Please rest assured I would never try to bully anyone into aligning their beliefs and opinions with my own. If we have exhausted all argument in a respectful manner, I see nothing wrong with maintaining different stances on a subject. AGREE TO DISAGREE. I try to change minds by simplifying ideas, applying my own knowledge and feelings about it, perhaps challenging the overall sociology/psychology of the idea, and sometimes even creating uncomfortable dialog, because I believe a healthy variety in ideologies is a very strong thing.

We focus too much on the differences between groups being a bad thing, polarizing the masses into smaller exclusive bunches, creating a competitive atmosphere so tense that it results in violence. We should be focusing on the differences between each individual, and we should celebrate how each person is valuable. I LOVE ARGUING, for the sake of seeing others’ points of view (I really am capable of that, in case you have already formed the opinion that I’m not… I shall change your mind). People are interesting in their reactions to the words of others, and it can lead a person down an emotional path that would have otherwise gone unexplored.

But truthfully, we all share the need to feel like our opinion is valued. I don’t care if you disagree. I challenge everyone to think from another’s perspective, and see if your argument sounds the same way, when you fill in the gaps with their set of values. It’s not about who’s right; it’s about considering everyone equally, douchebags and scholars alike. It’s about gathering viewpoints, and peering through new scopes at old subjects.

So if you’re just joining this weird crusade I call my life, make sure you brought your bed straps. I’m likely to drive you to the point of anger, nightmares, and probably serious disbelief at least once, and I hope that you thoroughly enjoy it. If you find that this ride is not for you, feel free to jump off (spoiler: ride does not stop for jumpers) and consider me not-a-friend. But you wouldn’t do that, would you, friend*?

-jg

*True friend.