An excellent concept which stemmed from a conversation about why certain people, specifically those on Twitter, appear to be so deeply loved yet when you really pay attention to what they say and do, they are actually fairly deplorable.
This isn’t a conclusion I’ve come to lightly; in fact, it was a tad depressing to realise just how horrible some of these people are. I never exactly “liked” some of them but I did hold a level of respect for them.
What started this whole conversation, and promoted Gen to suggest I write this, was this tweet I sent:
There are people on here, who when you really pay attention to their tweets, are fairly horrible people. I don’t get why they’re so loved.
— Atheist Alan (@reason_on) August 31, 2014
And some of the responses I got. One or two people wondering if it was about them because they accept that, on occasion, they can be assholes. The thing is, these people in my experience are genuinely good people. They, like anyone, can lose their tempers and be less than nice to people. The difference is they know they can be jerks and they freely admit it, as opposed to the people who prompted my tweet.
They don’t seem to realise how horrible they are, and best of luck calling them on it. Say a bad word about someone with 5,000 plus followers on twitter and an unofficial fan club who worships everything about them and boy will you regret it.
See, the thing is, some people are horrible and there’s no changing that. And usually assholes get treated like assholes, and are promptly rejected by most people. But occasionally a deplorable person manages to pass themselves off as a half decent person, usually by exploiting some trait they possess that draws people to them but we won’t get into that.
It’s quite a strange thing to watch if I’m perfectly honest.
I’ve seen people verbally defend (well as verbally as possible on the internet) abusing people – accusing all men of thinking of women as nothing more than objects or claiming it’s fine to tell random people to kill themselves – and yet they are still loved. Some people have even claimed that the people I’ve just described are their idols and that scares me. If you can justify those kinds of actions because a person has one or two, in my opinion, fairly superficially traits that appeal to you, then how far will you go to defend that person? It seems strange to me that people, especially those close to them, don’t call these folks on their questionable behaviors.
I understand not wanting to upset friends but, honestly, is it really worth having a friendship with a person who performs many of the same actions that you wouldn’t hesitate to slam strangers for? Especially when it’s not isolated incidents with these people?
Maybe if we were more willing to be critical of the actions of those we claim as friends then we could actually make some real progress towards reducing just how many people act this way. Life is difficult enough without us making it worse for each other, or allowing our so called friends to make it suck even more for people.
Everyone of us has the capacity to be the absolute worst imaginable version of ourselves, especially when emotions run high. We are, after all, emotional beings and we can’t change that. What we can change is how often we are that person. We can work to be good more often than we aren’t.
Imagine just how amazing the world would be if more people made the effort to be less “asshole-y”. If they, as a good friend of mine suggested, were to simply visit ButtHeadLand once in a while rather than actually living there?