Context matters

I don’t know what I’m more disgusted with right now. Social media and how it has given so many people a carte blance to act without thinking how their words might impact others or those who use social media to try to enforce their point of view, no matter what it is, on the rest of us. Let’s face it, the fact we can say anything we want to someone without having to say it to their face has made us “brave”. We don’t consider that what we read into a comment might not be what they meant. Hell, what we read into that comment might not even be what it says. After all, despite what any of us might believe, we are none of us perfect and we do make mistakes.

But that doesn’t stop those who are convinced that what they read in a comment is what was actually said and meant.

This morning, a friend pointed me to a thread where someone had gotten upset to the point of unfriending another person because he had posted a picture of his wife and daughters and referred to them as his “girls”. The OP viewed the use of “girls” as demeaning and pointed out that a woman isn’t a girl. It was such a serious offense than she unfriended the man without considering context or relationship between the parties. Her excuse? She grew up in the ’60s and 70’s, a time of protest and bra burning. So her experience had to trump what both context and intent.

Sorry, but no. I grew up during the same time period. I graduated from high school the same year this woman did. But I don’t give a rat’s ass if a husband and father calls his wife and daughters his “girls” if he does so as a term of endearment and if they don’t mind. It isn’t my job to tell them what they should or should not call one another. My first thought as I read the OP and her objections was to wonder if she ever called her husband and sons — if she has them — her “boys”. If so, why isn’t that as bad as a man calling his female family members his “girls”?

Let me be clear here. I believe in equal rights and equal opportunity. I have no patience for a man who thinks he is better than a woman solely because he has a penis. Of course, I have no patience for any person who thinks they are better than another solely on the basis of race, color, creed or anything other reason beyond ability.

Ability. That should be the one and only determining factor in whether someone gets a job or not. Who has the best ability to do the job? If a man is better qualified for it than a woman, then he should get the job and vice versa. If they are equally qualified, then the prospective employer can look at other factors. Yes, I know this is a simplistic view because employers also have to worry about whether someone can fit in with the other workers, etc. But let’s face it. An employer needs to hire the best they can and that means not hamstringing them with artificial hiring quotas.

We have turned into a nation of “my feelings matter more than yours”. At Berkeley, we have students demanding segregated “safe spaces”. Can you imagine the hue and cry that would sound if white students started demanding that? Yet, it is all right for others to demand segregation. 50 years ago, we were marching to end segregation and now we are moving back toward it. That, to me, is a step backwards.

These same students and others posted fake eviction notices on a business that was legally there because they want that space for their “safe space”. No concern was shown for the business, those who work there and depend on it for their livelihoods or for those who need that business’ services. Nope. They want it so, by God, they are going to get it.

Of course, that shouldn’t surprise any of us, not after the way these same folks blocked a bridge, refusing to let whites cross. At one point, they forced an older man to cross a creek (or something similar) instead of using the bridge. Then they got upset when the cops showed up. After all, they are above the law. The should be able to block public access whenever and however they want and to hell with the rest of the world.

We have Trump being condemned for how he spoke about women — and it was horrible. In no way do I approve of what he said. — and yet none of those screaming about how awful he is said a word when some in the feminist world started advocating for men to be killed simply because they’re men. It’s horrible to have a female in scanty clothes on book covers and yet more than okay to have bare-chested men.

Folks, I hate to tell you this but that’s a double standard. If you want equality, you have to want it for everyone, not just for yourself.

Most of all, you can’t stand there and want to be the more equal among the equals. That smacks of Communism. (For those of you who don’t get the reference, socialism and communism are supposedly built on a foundation of equality. However, it is a poor illusion at best. There are the more equal among equals. Those who get better lodging, possessions, pay and amenities, etc.).

But I’ve gone afield.

Here’s the simple truth. Before condemning someone, especially in public, for what he said, you need to look at the context. Then you need to ask yourself — and answer honestly — if you are applying a double standard. In the case first mentioned, if the guy had called his employees his “girls”, he probably crossed the line. Yes, there are exceptions. The name of the business might be such that “girls” would be appropriate. A simple google search led me to any number of businesses with “girls” as part of the business name. One of them, Two Girls and a Bucket, is a cleaning service. I can see someone, as part of their business schtick, telling the client that the “girls” who would be coming are so and so. Conversely, if it is an office setting, introducing female workers as “girls” would be inappropriate. Context, again.

It really comes down to this. When we’re on social media we need to step back, take a deep breath, read and then reread what was originally posted. We need to ask ourselves if we are reading more into it than was there. Then, after typing in our response, we need to pause and think long and hard before hitting the enter button. Remember, nothing we post on the internet is truly private. It is there forever if someone wants to look hard enough for it. More importantly, at least in some ways, is that employers, schools, etc., can and do ask for the keys to your social media sites to see what you have posted.  So, for the love of all that is holy, think before entering and pay attention to context. Otherwise, you may find that what you post hurts yourself more than anyone else.

1 Comment

  1. This is why we need a sarcasm font and a personal font and a public font and a business font and maybe others. These would be a start at supplying some of the context and kinesthetic and verbal clues that face to face supplies. Won’t stop those that live to be offended but might defuse some of the kerfuffles that are based on missed/crossed communication. Plus think of the possibilities for puns and deliberately crossed postings.

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