A friend of mine admitted to me recently he is not attending social events anymore if some loud-mouthed fuckwit – with whom he has crossed paths before – is on the guest list.
I understand. I’m completely behind removing toxic people from my life. But that does gets harder in middle age when many of us – myself included – begin to like the sound of our own voice.
While I love a good political debate, but not at the expense of respect
In my view, these spats happen more often in middle age for the following reasons:
1. We seem to believe that our age and experience gives us more credibility
2. There’s a noticeable switch in the middle-aged brain towards intolerance
3. We are becoming more aware of our impending mortality, so we feel a sense of urgency about imparting our newfound wisdom – even if it is a load of old bollocks.
4. And, finally, we become set in our ways and closed off to new ideas.
The biggest problem, however, 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 I’m a feminist. And if I dare to argue back, they backtrack with platitudes like “I was only joking” or “I was having a laugh.”
Not to mention the times our older generations feel the need to justify their archaic – often racist and sexist – views about political correctness, or indeed any change to 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 to be, and I’m not pointing the finger. I get as irritated as the next person when things don’t go my way. Thanks to menopause, I have an embarrassingly short fuse when it comes to people who walk slowly along footpaths, neighbours who fire up leaf blowers before 8am on the weekend, and hospitality workers whose service is slow. And don’t get me started on people who refute scientific evidence.
But unlike my friend, rather than isolate myself from the torture of listening to more vomit come out of the mouths of idiots, I’ve chosen to do my best to educate them. Not in terms of their political persuasion, I hasten to add – after all, we live in a democracy – but in terms of their compassion, listening skills, and basic manners.
That may sound arrogant – and I am fully aware that leopards don’t, in general, change their spots – but after years of countering stupid comments about the terror men feel about engaging with women since #metoo, or the rights to women’s bodies and the difficulties around consent – not really – and even why the mentally ill can’t just “pull themselves together”, I’m determined to help them see the light.
Evidently, these people are threatened by equality, and desperate to remain in their vacuum of privilege. But I would love one of them to educate me about a) the benefits of hating on people for no real other reason than their difference, and b) the ways equality and social inclusion actually affect their lives.
‘The world’s gone mad,’ they say, while 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.
There was a time when I believed everyone had a right to an opinion…
But maybe not. Not when we’re talking about the kind of ignorance and filth spread by religious nutters and conspiracy theorists about proven FACTS – like the different gender identities, climate change, and life-saving vaccinations – which have the potential to harm others.
Personally, I have never condoned censorship or cancel culture. As long targets like Chrissy Teigen show remorse for their past demeanours, I believe justice has been served. After all, having made a shitload of mistakes in my own youth, who am I to judge the mistakes of others? And yet, as per the message I saw on a poster recently that was promoting safe practices in the face of Covid – WE’RE ONE DICKHEAD AWAY FROM DISASTER.
So, maybe there is one case for discrimination – discrimination against dickheads.