In the past few months, I’ve gotten three different notes from those who are less than enthusiastic about what I share in public. One complaint was related specifically to Brain Bubbles; two about content on my Facebook page. Two were clearly bothered, but they were polite; the third was...not polite.
I know most will tell me just to ignore such comments, and I usually do. And I was not upset at their messages...so no need to defend or console me. I’m not afraid of criticism. If I were, I’d write about less controversial topics. (Yes, I admit, some of what I share is controversial!) I welcome sincere questions, honest disagreements and respectful discussion. I won’t debate and I won’t argue, nor will I engage those who are obviously Internet Trolls.
Clarification: A troll—typically anonymous or using a pseudonym—is someone posting contradictory, outrageous or inflammatory opinions (“baiting”) solely to incite conflict and watch people react.
What fascinated me about this triad of criticisms was the fact that all three used similar simple, but definitive statements...about completely different topics. Without significant changes (including the sentence that ends in a preposition), the objectors told me:
“You only talk about politics.”
“Being gay is all you ever write about.”
“All your posts are down on Christianity.”
Well obviously, they can’t all be correct. In other words, if all I write about is politics, as one contends, then I wouldn’t be able to write about gay stuff which another asserts. If all I did was put down Christianity, I could never post about politics. (Guess I could make all my posts gay political put-downs of Christianity.)
Yes, I’m gay, and a strong advocate for LGBT rights, marriage equality and full inclusion in the life and leadership of the church. I’m a passionate opponent of “ex-gay” therapy, and all attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation. I am a person of faith—a Christian—appalled by some claiming the same moniker but who make outrageous statements that go against the teachings of the One we are called to follow. I’m an informed Democrat who loves my country and is horrified at seeing our political process hijacked by an unholy alliance with extreme Fundamentalism.
And I do write about these things!
I intentionally mix up what I post online with entries that appeal to a wide range of readers—serious, funny, educational, inspirational, informational, personal. I include my own writings, but also share articles from others as well. I've asked on numerous occasions for suggestions on topics. (I've only ever gotten one response.)
It they'd said they didn't like my politics, or they thought I posted too much "gay stuff," that would be different. But they were each so definitive and their criticisms were so sweeping. Regardless, I didn’t want to dismiss their claims without investigation, so I did scroll down my Facebook timeline and looked back at six months of blog entries. Indeed, there were posts about politics, gay issues (which includes "ex-gay" topics), and the abuse of religion. But in addition, I saw posts about movies, TV, books, authors and my insights and tips about writing. There were also numerous cartoons, quotes and videos (funny and inspirational).
In other words, reality didn’t support their complaints.
So the question becomes: Were they lying?
Actually, it’s not that simple. I think it has to do with preconceptions, expectation and perspective—what some call a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Clarification: The term “self-fulfilling prophecy” was coined by Robert Merton in 1948. In a negative application/example, if I think all purple people are lazy, then when I hear or read about an unemployed purple person, it feeds into my preconceptions and fulfills my prophesy. (“I knew it!”) And I’ll tend to filter out incidents that contradict my ingrained assumptions or disprove my prophesy. So if a purple person runs a marathon, while saving starving puppies and negotiating a peace treaty in the Middle East, it doesn’t even register with me. My preconceptions are untouched and unchanged.
Likewise, if a person comes my site knowing I’m a gay advocate, and assumes all they’re going to see are rantings about gay rights, that preconception (prophesy) can color their perception. I could share a cute video of a cat playing the tuba, and they wouldn’t notice. But if that tuba-talented cat played a song from a Broadway musical, it would confirm the pre-determined opinion. (“See, I told you!”)
Self-fulfilling prophesy is the essence of prejudice—judging prior to facts. It’s making up one’s mind, and forming opinions without the need of verifiable evidence. Blissful ignorance!
None of this is intended to deny their rights to an opinion, even a wrong one. It's not to shirk any responsibility for what I write; I’ll glad accept constructive criticism or helpful suggestions. I’ve had lengthy discussions here and on Facebook with those who disagreed. But the simple truth is, my posts are NOT all about politics, NOT all about gay issue and NOT all bashing Christianity. And without being defensive, if someone says differently, they are simply wrong.
So here’s my decision, and a forewarning: I will continue to write about movies, TV, books, authors and writing. I’ll share jokes, quotes, cartoons and videos. But in the midst of those topics, I’ll also write about politics, gay issues, and the abuse of religion.
It’s really is that simple!