A friend of mine admitted to me recently that he refuses to attend social events anymore if loud-mouthed fuckwits are on the guest list.
I get it. I’m completely behind removing toxic people from my life – although that is harder in middle age when many of us, myself included, start to like the sound of our own voice.
I mean…I like a robust discussion or political debate, but not at the expense of respect
And these political spats seem to be escalating in my circles of friends, I believe, for the following reasons:
1. Middle-aged people seem to believe that their age and experience gives them more credibility
2. There’s a noticeable switch in the middle-aged brain towards intolerance
3. We become more aware of our impending mortality as we age and feel a sense of urgency about imparting our newfound wisdom – even if it is a load of old bollocks.
4. We become set in our ways and closed off to new ideas.
But the biggest problem, I’ve found, is we stop listening to others
Countless times, I’ve had to listen to some idiot make sexist comments in front of me when they know my views about feminism. And when I dare to argue back, they backtrack with platitudes like “I was only joking” or “I was having a laugh.”
And then there are our older generations who feel the need to justify their archaic, often racist and sexist rants about political correctness, or indeed any change in society from what they know and understand.
‘The world has gone mad,’ they say… as if greater compassion, equality, and scientific progress are bad things
I understand our frustration with the world not being quite where we want it. I get as irritated as the next person when people walk slowly along footpaths, push in front of me in queues or fire up their leaf blowers before 8am. But unlike my friend, rather than isolate myself from the torture of listening to idiots, I choose to make it my duty to educate them. Not in terms of their political persuasion – because we live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinion – but in terms of the way they share their views, their compassion, listening skills and basic manners.
After years of listening to stupid comments about the terror men feel about engaging with women since #metoo, the rights of women’s bodies, the difficulties around consent, and even why the mentally ill can’t just “pull themselves together”, I’m determined to help these people see the light.
I can only assume that these people are threatened by equality or determined to remain in their vacuum of privilege. ‘The world’s gone mad,’ they bleat as the rich get richer, our environment continues to suffer at the hands of the wealthiest corporations, and the poor are still treated like second-class citizens.
I used to believe that everyone had a right to an opinion…
But maybe not. Not when it comes to the ignorance and filth spread by religious nutters, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists about proven FACTS – like different gender identities, climate change, and life-saving vaccinations – which have the potential to harm others.
I have never condoned censorship or cancel culture, as long as targets like Chrissy Teigen show remorse for their past demeanours. After all, who hasn’t made a shitload of mistakes in their past?
But – WE ARE ONE DICKHEAD AWAY FROM DISASTER – the message I saw on a poster recently that was promoting safe practices around Covid, seemed very appropriate. And maybe there is one case for discrimination after all – discrimination against dickheads.