rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
As you may know, depending on how closely you follow me on other platforms or know me in real life, we recently took a trip to DISNEY WORLD (*ahem* didn’t mean to shout that, that’s just the sort of thing you can’t help shouting, so, anyway). Here is a little of that if you missed it. My parents went too, but were taking the autotrain, and they took the kids down with them because TRAIN! But Jason is always more comfortable in control of his own vehicle, even if he’s insanely in control of his own vehicle (don’t ride the Teacups with him with your eyes open), so the two of us drove down to meet them.

This, strangers out there in the wide internet world, means we took about a thousand miles of Interstate south from Southwestern Pennsylvania, the heart of Stillers Country, to Central Floria, Theme Park Capital of the World. Straight through the Deep South of America.

A lot has been said about the homogenization of America, even the world. We’re all chain establishments on big parking lots on huge highways, all over. But maybe it’s not that clear-cut. Maybe the similarities just make the differences stand out more. If the US and UK are two countries separated by a common language, the Mid-Atlantic and Southern States are two cultures separated by a common national government. Heck, Western and Eastern PA are different enough. We hadn’t left the country and it still felt totally foreign.

Little things, beyond the accents, would remind us we were somewhere else. Our stopover hotel in South Carolina had packets of Quaker Grits on the breakfast buffet instead of Quaker Oatmeal. Not even both! Just plenty of grits and no oatmeal in sight! Then, oh lord, the radio stations. We had some audiobooks but sometimes we’d search for radio stations and WHY IS IT SO FRIGGIN’ HARD TO FIND A DANG ROCK STATION IN THE SOUTH?! HOW MANY COUNTRY AND CONSERVATIVE TALK WITH THE OCCASIONAL POP STATION THROWN IN STATIONS DOES ANY AREA REALLY NEED. That may be just me.

But speaking of the radio, that brought it home (that we were AWAY from home) even more. There were commercials for gun stores— we have loads of gun stores in SW PA, I should know since I’d probably sent a resume on behalf of my dyslexic husband to all of them, but you just don’t hear them advertised on the radio. One of the ads boasted a collection of full-auto rifles they called their “Wall of Freedom,” which cracked us both up. “We need to move to the South!” he’d exclaim every time it would come on. “We absolutely do not!” I’d say back. It’s like the South took every stereotype about Conservative Americans and FLAUNTED it. It came out in the word choices of their radio personalities and the content of their billboards. My conservative husband was genuine about his wanting to move there (in theory at least)— he felt comfortable, like he belonged. I on the other hand did NOT. The commonality of billboards demanding that I meet Jesus were even more alienating to me than they were to my agnostic hubs, because I could tell by their very nature they’d been posted by people who genuinely believe I HAVEN’T met Jesus, that I’m an un-Christian idolator with my Roman Catholic ways. I gave him that Southern states with higher Hispanic populations, like Texas— or Florida, although Florida is different enough from the rest of the South in other ways too (like, you CAN find a decent selection of rock stations)— MIGHT be okay in that respect because there’d be a higher Catholic population than in this freaky Evangelical Southern Baptist Wonderland. Still, I'd still be a liberal in this area and I could already tell it would be weird. Where we are, in somewhat-rural-somewhat-suburban PA, ideology is pretty well-mixed— the chance that either of us is going to feel like the ideological weirdo in any group is a toss-up. What if you ALWAYS felt like the weirdo?

My biggest take-away from this: NO WONDER PEOPLE CAN’T COMMUNICATE ON THE INTERNET.

Yeah I know. Maybe that was a leap. But the day before we left I’d had an internet conversation with a person who was offended by the use of the word “spade” in a TV show. “I know it’s not meant to be derogatory in context, but because it’s a loaded word in other contexts you’d think they’d think twice about using it.” “Ummm,” people responded, “why would anyone’s brain GO there in this context though? A spade is a kind of shovel.” “Yes, but that’s an archaic term!” the first person continued. “It’s like using ‘gay’ to mean ‘happy’!” I finally commented, “’Spade’ as a gardening tool is not remotely archaic, I just used one this morning (and yes there’s a definite difference between ‘spade’, ‘shovel’, and ‘trowel,’ they’re not interchangeable). On the other hand I have never heard ‘spade’ used in a derogatory fashion at all and am not even clear what it’s meant to refer to, so I surely wouldn’t have thought twice about using it.” For a moment I rolled my eyes at myself for making the comment anyway— why bring that on myself? I’d just look like a clueless white girl to this person who would now find ME offensive. But the person responded thoughtfully, “Maybe it’s an East Coast vs. West Coast thing. Or rural vs. urban: no one I know would have any opportunity to use any gardening tools.” I kind of blinked at this. Sure, I grew up in a school district known for its outstanding Ag-Hort department, but you don’t have to live on a farm to stop by Home Depot to grab a few tools to deal with your yar…OH. I guess it IS theoretically possible, if you grew up in a big enough city and still lived there, that everyone you know MIGHT actually not even have a yard.

Huh.

Made me think of British and Irish people and the way they swear. There are words they say that they don’t think twice about— or if they do, it’s in the way somebody here might think “Should I say ‘damn’? There are children present.” And yet Americans are like “I can’t believe they said that on TV. Oh, and I can’t believe they said THAT one at all! Don’t they know how OFFENSIVE AND HATEFUL THAT IS?!” And said other-side-of-the-pond-er is like, “What? Why are Americans so prudish?” And then the quite-progressive-thank-you-very-much American is like “PRUDISH? No, YOU’RE being MISOGYNISTIC/RACIST/HOMOPHOBIC/WHATEVERTHATWORDAPPLIESTO by using that word!” And the Brit/Irish person blinks in bewilderment, then turns around and wonders how on earth Ron Weasley got away with using “bloody” so much in the movies.

So on the internet you find these people all over the world that have SO MUCH IN COMMON WITH YOU AND YOU’RE ALL EXCITED and then you end up getting into an argument over terminology or ideology that you think is OBVIOUSLY one way and so you’re shocked that these people you THOUGHT you had so much in common with could POSSIBLY subscribe to such abhorrent ways of thinking, when they’ve simply grown up in a culture with different connotations and weights for things!

I write about this sort of thing a lot on here, I know. I’m either preaching to the choir or you just don’t care and never will. But I do. I see so much strife and anger and hatred in the world that just comes out of MISCOMMUNICATION. Of people not realizing they’re coming from totally different places, whether physically or philosophically, and so they ASSUME things about each other and react according to those assumptions. “EVERYONE knows that’s offensive” isn’t true when you leave the culture where your “everyone” happened to be. Likewise “EVERYONE would know I didn’t mean it that way,” every bit. Both speaker and listener need to be aware that sometimes there’s going to be a disconnect, or the disconnect is just going to get wider as each person attempts to defend their own worldview to someone who doesn’t even realize the worldviews are different, and thinks the other is only being obstinate or oversensitive.

I was going to get into how this also applies to political memes, but I don’t feel like it though. It’s not a whole other kettle of fish, though, it’s actually the same kettle of fish. My husband and I have very different understandings of the concept of “socialism” for example. Sure, he knows Donald Trump is a narcissistic jerkfaced megalomaniac, but Bernie Sanders is, gasp, A SOCIALIST WHICH IS A MILLION TIMES WORSE. So what I think is a given good vs. evil-wise politically, he thinks is a completely different given (though I personally find it telling that I’d be fine with any of the current Democratic candidates, and he DOESN’T like any of the current Republican candidates, and yet he’d still vote for one of them before he’d vote for A SOCIALIST OR THAT EVIL EVIL CRIMINAL CLINTON. I don’t know, I think I’ve got the better stand here, don’t you? When HE doesn’t even like his own guys?)

So what I mean is, when people post political memes, they’re usually talking in a shorthand that only people who agree with them politically ALREADY will get. No one else is going to be convinced by it, they’re just going to be offended, because with THEIR understanding of the situation, whatever the dang meme says DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. And we end up bitterly hating people who, in real life, we’d probably like quite a lot. Or be married to, in some cases. Yeah, the hubs and I have tried to have political arguments but it just doesn’t work. Partly because he’s much better at verbalizing than I am so tends to dominate an argument which is JUST NOT FAIR, but also because our own ideas of what government is for are completely unaligned. In our own heads we are right and the other is wrong and nothing we say will make any difference because of that FUNDAMENTAL DISCONNECT.

So I guess I did get into that here. Anyway.

Day to day life is not about politics. We can agree to disagree about politics. Much more troubling is our disagreement on the best kinds of dietary changes we should make to our diet-that-definitely-needs-to-be-healthier-SOMEHOW (I am all for less meat and more salads, he’s all HECK NO but let’s snack less and avoid junk food and I’m like BUT SNACKS ARE HAPPINESS)--it’s much harder to agree-to-disagree on something that actually immediately affects your lives. But the POINT IS, the things people get all riled up about on the internet are probably not as big a deal as they seem. They’re probably just people speaking different versions of what they thought was the same language.

Date: 2016-05-01 10:24 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] catarina niza (from livejournal.com)
this boggles my mind. in a both cool and not cool way. cause it forces you to think of people complexly and makes you realize how hard that is.

Date: 2016-05-02 12:45 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Yep. I'm happy to mind-boggle you!

Date: 2016-05-01 10:55 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] elouise82.livejournal.com
Wait, people have turned "spade" into a derogatory term? Doggone it. It's bad enough that I don't dare use any emojis because I'm pretty sure they all mean something dirty I'm just not aware of, now I have to be careful of gardening terms?

I'm obviously being facetious here, but I have to say, keeping track of what's currently offensive is exhausting. Our pastor spoke just this morning on love not being quick to take offense, or delighting in wrongdoing (as in, delighting in OTHER PEOPLE doing wrong because it makes you feel better about yourself), and yeah, I like that, let's try living that way because I don't have the energy to do the other anymore. I get so tired and bewildered that I sometimes can't even figure out what I SHOULD be outraged over, and what it something being blown out of proportion. Outrage fatigue, I guess. Like compassion fatigue, but even less profitable.

Date: 2016-05-02 12:53 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] rockinlibrarian.livejournal.com
Hah, I have that problem with emojis, too!

On one hand, if someone tells you you've been acting under an assumption that something's okay but it actually ISN'T, you should probably fix that. But on the other hand, no matter what you say, SOMEONE is going to get offended. You fix your unconsciously bigoted speech and somebody on the other side is going to accuse you of pushing a "liberal agenda." So I guess the best thing to do is act out of love, and if it turns out somebody's offended you listen carefully to see if they have something to teach you or if they're splitting hairs-- but you DO listen, and if it changes the way you act out of love, then you're still acting out of love... I hope I'm making sense, I'm sick today...!

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