Monday, January 27, 2014

In Which Calling Names is a Shame.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my irritated tweet ranting about frustrations over a bicyclist who was dangerously riding against traffic and all over a busy, accident-prone road in our town. It wasn't my best look or my greatest prose, but it was honest. It was ill-received, especially out of context, as dangerous behavior isn't condoned by myself or the cyclists. It looked something like:
The tweet was the first tweet that's caught any attention of a large group of people: avid cyclists.

I would love to write a post about the politics and laws surrounding road biking and my take on such trends, but to those topics, I have not much to say. In fact, my take on bikes and road politics: all bikes, cars, and pedestrians should share the road in mutual and respectful ways. Your mode of transportation can always be used in dangerous and/or irresponsible ways so careful is key on the parts of all parties.

While I have utmost respect for the brave souls on bikes, I also believe there's uninformed bikers who ride in ways dangerous to both them and me -whether I'm in a car, on a bike, or running down the sidewalk. And this is why I once owned, but now don't, a bike -because I never felt comfortable enough in my ability to navigate through traffic or poorly paved roads. So, I stick to running.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get to my point. I don't agree with many of the opinions of the cyclists -as far as 140 characters at a time can go. And, I don't mind that we don't agree. What I do mind is the language and attacks levied in my direction due to my "disagreeable" take on their sport.

For the first time in (almost) twenty five years I was called a dozen mean names in less than an hour. Ranging from bigot to ass hat to fucking moron to hypocrite, all kinds of demeaning language were used. One woman said I'm flabby because I don't bike. Another took it as far to say I can't love God and not share lanes with a cyclist. While none of their opinions change what I think of myself, they also don't help create a space in which an adult conversation can happen.

Then, I couldn't help but wonder: is this how I respond to disagreement?

When someone hates on the God I love, do I launch into a defensive, name-calling attack -even if just in my head? Does a crude remark about the young age I married or the family I have push me to discredit the other party by assigning lame, mean names to their thoughts? I should be bigger than that, but am I? Are you? 

I don't believe a disagreement has ever been settled through attack and disrespect. No, the best conversations spent wrestling through tough, often opposite views best happen in respectful, honest environments. So, in the notion of being B.R.A.V.E., I'm going to work on eliminating the silent name-calling. Instead of writing someone off for their perceived ignorance or misguided views, I'm going to engage in that conversation, create a space in which to communicate, and expand my understanding of them, me, and the issue at hand.

Who knows biking might start to sound more attractive again?

24 comments:

  1. I got a bike a few months ago, and I actually didn't know at first that it's not legal to ride against traffic. I wonder how many other people don't know that either, and have put themselves and drivers at risk for collision. People need to calm down, and that's great that you recognize that it may be a problem for you that needs to be addressed!

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  2. Ugh. I don't even know where to start with this. How does that tweet make you a bigot or any of the other things you were called?! I mean, that honestly just doesn't make any sense. I can't make a rational comment about it because it's an irrational response. (Literally just rolled my eyes.)

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  3. the only person i name call is justin beiber. because time and time again, his actions prove my thoughts: that he's a tool. as for everyone else, live and let live!

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

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  4. People think because they're on the internet they can say whatever they want without any consequence. We hide behind the comfort of that "internet wall" and don't realize names hurt, whether they're online or in real life. I hate that this happened to you and I want to punch these people in the face, which makes me a hypocrite but whatever. LOYALTY

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  5. ah, the word bigot. the catch-all, almost-always-used-in-the-wrong-context insult. i've never seen you being a name-caller out loud, so if all you need to do is reign in the internal name-calling, you are about 12 steps ahead of most people in your journey to adult communication. good on you friend.

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  6. I fully respect cyclists- and am even a little jealous that they are brave/motivated enough to ride to work. But what drives me crazy is when they behave dangerously for themselves. They want to be treated the same as cars on the road, but then they refuse to follow the same rules.

    And I really dislike how people can hide behind the internet with their name calling- because I guarantee most of them would never say these things out loud to a person.

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  7. I'm so sorry they chose to attack you, I can't stand the way people do that these days. But, as usual, you walked away from it with a great lesson and a goal. I don't know how you always turn it around into a positive. It's truly inspiring!

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  8. It's crazy how one Tweet can set so many people off. But I do agree with you on engaging in certain convo. I think people jump the gun ( I also do this) way too much. I love that you take everything and learn from it. It is what makes you so amazing Mrs. Thomas!

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  9. Some people are mean and use the internet as their punching bad to others who don't agree with them. I completely understand about the bikers, it's scary when they are that close to you and you know if anything were to happen the blame would always be on the person driving the car. That just triggers my anxiety like no other when I have a biker 2 inches from me! As for people calling you names for that, that's just insane and they obvi don't read your blog and how not rude you are.
    -Vivian
    vivianstonexo.blogspot.com

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  10. There are definitely some cyclists that don't operate in traffic safely, as well as drivers. It's just scarier when it's a cyclist because there is no big metal cage protecting them!

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  11. I don't really understand how that tweet was even offensive. I love to ride my bike, but that doesn't mean I'd be pissed if someone got pissed at me for being in their way. People need to chillax.

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  12. Ughhhh I really dislike how people stoop to name calling when they disagree with a comment someone makes, especially online! I always feel like if you wouldn't say it to someone's face, it shouldn't be said on social media/blog comments/etc. I hope the comments didn't get you down!

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  13. Way to use your voice and platform for good, as opposed to writing off people like that or engaging in hate. I think taking the high road- on bike, car, or by your feet, is the only way to go! (And side note, isn't it sad how negativity is what gets attention on social media?! Of all the posts to go viral, it has to be that one, sad how that seems to work out.)

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  14. It sucks that people can be SO ignorant about daily life adventures. Take it with a grain of salt and as my hubby would say, "Waddle, Waddle. Go ahead and let ALL their comments slide right down the back and keep on trucking! Although the dull and ignorant have their story, that doesn't mean others HAVE to hear it. Just ignore them!!!

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  15. dying. hahaha.

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  16. RIGHT?!? For 140 characters I got a LOT of flack. Thankfully, it taught me to rethink anything before I jump on the angry bandwagon... Something I might now have thought about until I was wrapped up a bit too tight in some online battle. :)


    Love you boo, boo. #foralltime

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  17. And WHY DO PEOPLE LOVE THAT WORD? Yes, I'm yelling because it's so confounding to me.


    Also, moron. How Catcher in the Rye is that? SOOO Catcher in the Rye. And while I thought Holden was hysterical, I don't think he's becoming in a "real life" sense. :)

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  18. Did you hear the government has him on some no fly list so he has to be extensively searched before he can get on his private jet? He's almost as big a tool as the jackhammer they're using in our yard at work right now. ALMOST.

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  19. Oh girl, I have mad respect for them... Especially since I gave it a go and HATED it. But, I don't respect name hurling, especially the virtual variety. I have little bit more respect for all the housewives who do it face to face on national TV... Doing it behind some virtual wall just makes me feel like it's not worth listening to... And, that might be a revelation that I'm not as mature as I think I am! :)

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  20. It reminds me of a water balloon war where you hide behind a wall and hurl water balloons as hard and fast as you can but the moment you get hit by one and are all soggy it's no fun anymore.


    Um, that's really mostly irrelevant. But somehow I know you'll appreciate. #loyallikearoyal

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  21. I thought I understood what a bigot was... Then I got all those tweets and questioned my understanding. Turns out I wasn't confused about it. Thank goodness... I couldn't live with being a mean tweeter AND unaware of the definition of bad words. :)


    How's that for rational? Or not?

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  22. Oh girl, you are not faint of heart. I rode with Jason several times and EVERY time it was so stressful I needed a stiff drink as soon as we got home. Needless to say, I'll stick to running... Which happens to have enough rules for me to try and figure out. :)

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  23. RIGHT? Like, hey we disagree, that's cool for us. But DON'T go all "you're a sucky Christian" on me because it just makes me ignore EVERYTHING that follows it. And, while I wasn't being my most respectful self, I also think any bicyclist would be embarrassed by the way this guy was so dangerously swerving into oncoming traffic and such.

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  24. :) Smile knowing that love is all around you, even in the ignorant people!!

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