opinionated person is opinionated

Ugh, I can't believe I'm giving this any play, but whatever.

Someone on the internets has a different opinion than me. It's the same person who holds this alarmingly lax and ignorant attitude towards the exposure of naked children on the internet. I'm quoting her post below; my responses are in red.

I read Elliequent's blog (she is a skilled and rather lyrical writer, so I enjoy reading the blog even though she has some serious psychological issues). LOL. How nice. If only I was in better company. She is "childfree" (aka someone with no children who's self-righteous about it), which in itself doesn't bother me at all. No, clearly not. That must be why you put the term in scare quotes. Incidentally, "childfree" is the term that confident and reasonable adults have adopted when engaging in this conversation, since "childless" both implies a lack we don't feel and, more importantly, is the specific designation for people that DO want to have children, but cannot for whatever reason. When someone insists on using the term "childless", that suggests to me their need to believe I'm lacking in some way due to my choice to not to procreate. Trust me. I'm not. It was and is a deliberate choice. But hey, whatever makes you feel better. It's great that people know what they want (no kids) and are willing to pursue it despite societal judgment and expectations. Good for them! Societal judgment and expectations weigh extremely heavily on me, as you can tell by the openness with which I talk about things like depression, sex, drug use, and atheism. 

But her post about how she is entitled to give other people (strangers) parenting advice is truly horrible.  It sort of encapsulates all the worst stereotypes about non-parents: their ignorance of children and everything pertaining to them, their self-righteous "I could do it better" attitude (thus the joke "I was a great parent before I had kids"), their idea that they are so helpful and considerate to parents (hahahahaha) Not even sure how to respond to that. But boy is there a lot of assumption going on, and a huge amount of mischaracterization of my post. It actually sounds like the only stereotyping that's going on is YOU stereotyping the childfree as knowing nothing about children. Clearly you've had some bad experiences with the childfree, that have embittered you in some way, because you sound really angry. That sucks. Maybe the fact that they were childfree had less to do with it than the fact that they were just assholes? Just a thought. And don't you think you're tarring me with that asshole brush, when you know NOTHING about my interactions with parents, and whether or not I am in fact helpful and considerate to them?  ...Just to complete the stereotype, she often refers to her dog as her child. I love this. I love when parents get SO FURIOUS when the childfree or childless or childwantingsomedays refer to their pets as their kids, or their babies, or whatever. What is that all about? I mean, you do know that we, um, realize that we're not biologically related to our pets, right? I really, really love my dog, but I didn't fall so head over heels for him that I lost my mind and now imagine he traveled through my birth canal and latched onto my breast afterward (WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME). What is it that bothers you so much, about people playfully and affectionately referring to their pets as kids? I think that's more your issue than anything. Does it anger you to think that I could love my dog as much as you love your kid? Because how do you know I don't? And what difference does it make, anyway? Does the amount of love I have for my dog in any way detract from the amount of love you have for your kid? Or maybe it just pisses you off to think I could enjoy my relationship with my pet as much you enjoy your relationship with your child. But who the fuck cares, either way? IT'S NOT A COMPETITION, AND WHAT I CALL MY PET HAS NO BEARING ON YOUR HAPPINESS AS A PARENT, DOES IT? Maybe you should think about why that's a problem for you, Grace, or Amanda, or whatever your real name is (your blog has one name; your email had another). 

Actually, though, the post is a good learning opportunity. I tend to be judgmental and opinionated myself, with strongly held beliefs on all sorts of topics, including those about which I know almost nothing. This is a reminder of how obnoxious such an approach is, and how important it is for me to continue to strive for empathy, tolerance and understanding when making statements (or even thinking about issues). It doesn't come easily or naturally to me, but it is essential. Yes. Nothing says tolerance like mischaracterizing my post with a title that implies I gave "awful advice", when all I did was put a call out for parents not to exploit their kids' privacy on social media. Nothing says empathy like saying you enjoy my blog even though I have "serious psychological issues", as if talent and depression are mutually exclusive. Christ lady, did you miss the artistic output of the last five hundred years? 

Speaking of which: I need to cultivate such an attitude about Ellie herself (after all, she was expressing concern about children: a nice impulse in essence even if her execution was bad). I was so irritated by the post that after I read it I wrote her a long, critical email (she doesn't allow comments). This was probably a really bad idea (certainly not falling under the category of "What Would a Loving Empathetic Person Do?") and I am now rather regretting it. Good. Because that long, critical email was full of absurd assumptions, mischaracterizations of my argument, straw men, insincere over-dramatizations, and insults. And your second one was even worse. So maybe the post was also a good chance for me to think about improving my impulse control and emotional reactivity. Food for thought: I guess I owe Ellie thanks after all! Anytime.


Ok. We now return to our regularly scheduled mix bag of posts about festivals and doodz and sad days, shitty maudlin poetry, and esoteric short fiction. Thank you for your patience.