Opting Out

I’ve hit the wall, and I’m done.  I know we’ve all been through a lot in the past year and a half, and that most of our nerves are truly shot.  I know it’s human nature to want to divide the world into “them and us,” and that isn’t going to change.  I know the easiest way to feel better about ourselves is to look down on someone else, and how tempting it is to do that.  Most of all, I know I’ve been guilty of all of this myself, far too often.  But it seems to me that the ugliness has reached new heights these days, and I have gotten to the point where I just can’t take it anymore. 

I don’t want to live my life in fear and anger, or even in a state of “justified” outrage.  I don’t want to believe that people who are different from me are necessarily bad people.  I don’t want to spend precious time ridiculing those whose behavior and choices I don’t understand, and I most definitely don’t want to indulge in pointless online arguments with those who dare to express an opinion I don’t happen to agree with. 

Life can be tough, and it’s normal to want to find someone, or a group of people, to single out as the cause of all our problems.  But a quick look at history shows us that bad things happen, to all of us, when we begin to believe that our aggression towards someone else is justified and deserved.  (Because isn’t that what every single abuser says about his or her victim?  That they “deserved” it?)  So I have made the conscious choice to back away from that kind of thinking, and instead to look very hard for the common ground that binds all of us together.  Because I truly believe that it’s so much more productive to look for what unites us than to concentrate quite so much on what divides us.

I realize that my choices go against the grain in a world where we are constantly being pitted against each other, and where we seem to dream up new divisions each day.  We’ve always been conditioned to divide ourselves along political, national, and religious lines, and sadly, most of us do just that.  But now we’re also dividing along the lines of vaccinated verses unvaccinated, rural verses urban, vegans verses omnivores, and even battling over our choices about education, gender definitions and about everything else you can possibly imagine.  If we keep going at this rate, I’ll only be allowed to like people who are exactly like me.  Which would mean I’ll only like…. me.

So the time has come for me to say “enough is enough” and I don’t want to do this anymore.  We all get to make choices in how we spend the precious time we have on this earth, and I’ve made mine.  I want to be done with the fighting, the squabbling, the superior outrage and all the rest of it, and I’m going to do my very best to turn my back on it, both literally and figuratively.  Sometimes, if only for the sake of our sanity, we need to choose to simply “opt out.”

 

92 thoughts on “Opting Out

  1. What took you so long? More and more of us are opting out because we see the ridiculousness of it all. Turn off the news (it’s all lies anyway). Stop looking at social media and once you do all of that, you will find peace. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a very good strategy. It’s amazing how much time and energy we waste trying to convert other people to our point of view, when it doesn’t work anyway. And being angry all the time is not how I wan to live. Thanks for the comment!

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  2. Well said. Life is often a struggle and a journey, but any fight is with ourselves, not others. I choose not to engage in fighting others actions or beliefs that differ from mine and concentrate on what we share. Cheers Ann. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I’m hoping to do too, Allan. It just makes more sense. We’ll never all agree, but we can certainly try to live together in peace, I think. And the more we get to know recognize each other as fellow human beings who are just doing the best they can in an often difficult world, the better off we’ll be, I I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully stated, Ann. Maybe if enough of us choose peace, and unity, and positive over negative, the tide will start to turn. I don’t think you’re alone in your resolve, though at times it may feel that way. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Donna! I’m not sure when putting down people we disagree with began to be seen as a virtue, but it isn’t. We don’t have to like each other, but we do have to treat each other respectfully, I believe.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll still be writing! I’m just planning to stay away from discussions about how awful “they” are, and arguments that are fruitless anyway. I think it’s time to stop trying to fight each other and work on ways to get along even with those who are very different. I don’t believe compromise is a dirty word.
      Enjoy your writing sabbatical, and know I’ll be here when you get back! I enjoy your blog very much!

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I’m not worried. I’ve read enough of your posts to know that your vegan post won’t be a vicious attack on those who aren’t vegans. Seriously, I believe in being honest about what we believe in, and why. It’s when we begin to attack those who don’t share all of our beliefs, or who are different from us, that I become troubled.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m right there with ya; I rarely listen to the news anymore with the exception of getting the weather. I’m almost finished with FB; I used to use it to keep up with family but then one thing led to another and let’s just say I may have “friends” but they are no longer “followed.” However, as a writer, I’m expected to have a large “following” if I expect to be published traditionally. It’s a tangled web! I commend you for your own personal choice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is hard, isn’t it? As a writer, you do need to have a large following, but if you have a large following, you’re going to see Facebook posts that are unsettling, to say the least. So many people use it as a platform to attack others, and that’s very discouraging. When it is used as a way to stay in touch with far away friends and family, Facebook is wonderful. When it’s used to say, “Look how much better I am than you!”, it’s beyond annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can only agree that the world is full of anxiety, fear, and outrage. The current political climate in most western nations and the pandemic have exposed countless “unpleasant’ (to put it mildly) human traits and weaknesses in our social structure.

    I applaud your decision to disengage, to seek common ground, to turn the channel.

    If by opt out, you mean social media, again, that is a wise move. The internet has given everyone a platform to spew forth. It’s exhausting to have to filter it all.

    best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Maggie! Actually, I wasn’t just referring to social media, although that’s part of it. I just mean the tendency I’ve seen lately to bring “who we hate” into almost every conversation or social gathering, rather in person or on social media. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of blaming others, I’m tired of demonizing those who are different, and I really think it’s an extremely unhealthy way to look at things. I can’t stop people from saying what they want, but from now on, they’re saying it to the back of my head as I walk away…….

      Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! We can talk about things without arguing and name calling if we just try. And sometimes we do just have to “scroll by” because some people are hell-bent on arguing and blaming. That kind of negativity doesn’t help anyone. But I have found that often, if I’m just willing to listen, I can at least begin to understand why people feel the way they do. And maybe then they’ll understand me, and if that happens, then we have indeed found some common ground, I believe.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good for you Ann. So many crave that engagement with the intent to argue. It’s not worth and why I stepped away years ago. Blogging is my social media engagement tool at this point, and while I don’t always agree with everyone I read, I also simply choose not to engage if my opinion is widely different than theirs. Doesn’t mean I can’t continue to read their words, I just won’t get in the middle of anything more than respectful discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Deb! And what you do is exactly what I try to do. I have blogging friends who have very different views from mine, but I don’t argue with them…what’s the point? And honestly, reading their posts help me grow in my understanding. If someone is willing to have a respectful discussion, I’m all for that. But if they only want to lecture me or argue, then I move on. That doesn’t help any of us.

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  7. I spent 26 years working for a bully and I learned to just let it go. I didn’t argue or point out discrepancies instead I maintained a civil professional work relationship. I’ve had lots of practice with finding the similarities instead of dwelling on the differences. I do believe that is the best route to maintain sanity and nurture peace in daily interactions. We always have the choice – and you choosing to not contend is a smart one! Hope your peace increases as does your level of happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am impressed that you managed to work for a bully for 26 years! That couldn’t have been easy. But it sounds as if you handled it perfectly, and that you have a very good attitude. We’re never going to all agree, but we can learn to disagree civilly, compromise, and look for common ground. Plus, persuasion is always better than attacks, I think. I sure never listen to anyone who is attacking me, but if someone is politely telling me what they think, and why, I absolutely listen and often learn something. I think if I can get better at this, my level of peace and happiness will increase. Hope so, anyway! And thank you for that comment!

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  8. Good choice. I’m doing the same thing. I’ll skim the news headlines of a few reputable sources, but that is the extent of my keeping up to date. Times are as strange as, if not stranger here in Canada than most places in the world…
    Our province just took off Covid restrictions a few days ago. Today we went to our pharmacy to get our second shot, and we didn’t even have to put a mask on. Freedom never felt so good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so happy for you, Margy! Those first few days of lifted restrictions are the best. It’s amazing how wonderful it feels to live our normal lives again, isn’t it? And I do the same thing with the news: I watch just enough to know what’s going on. I pay no attention to the opinion pieces, and I have no time for those “us and them” conversations that pop up so often these days. We need to work at finding common ground, I believe, not in building even more “walls!”

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  9. I reckon humans have always been a cantankerous species (which is to put it mildly) but the situation has never been as grim as this. We are evolving into a Man-eat-Man species. I can deeply relate with your disgust with the utter selfishness of the general humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, it does seem that way. Self-interest is prevalent, and so it insisting that everyone else agree with us. It really bothers me how quickly people get upset if they think you don’t agree with them, and how easily we see someone as “the enemy.” That’s not a good thing for this world at all!

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  10. I’m glad I went back and read your post again, because I’d somehow missed the line tucked into the middle that’s pure genius: ” If we keep going at this rate, I’ll only be allowed to like people who are exactly like me. Which would mean I’ll only like…. me.”

    What’s important is that word ‘allow.’ No one has the right to impose beliefs, preferences, or behaviors on another, but we have a responsibility, too — not to allow others to determine the course of our life.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Good summary of what a soul-destroying platform facebook (and others) has become. The constant bombardment by insecure, angry, frustrated people on some of the most harmless or, dare we say< interesting pages and groups , is getting to the point where many well-intentioned "normal" people are afraid to even keep in touch, do research on topics of interest and share community group pages. Facebook has become a cesspit and it is so sad, but the flurry of abuse generates likes and activity, and that is all that counts.
    Keep up your great blog posts and be gentle with yourself. Diversity and difference are important and tribal bullying and harassment have no place in a caring world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is so true! Even the pages on Facebook from the news outlets are obviously designed to provoke lots angry comments, because that gets the coveted clicks and likes. When did everything become about how much attention you can get? It’s as if the truth no longer matters: we just want everyone to share our opinion, and we’re more than ready to punish them when they don’t. Internet mobs and bullying are becoming more and more common. And it’s sad, because it does make the people who are polite and rational afraid to speak up. In a way, we’re losing our right to free speech. I’ve noticed that his mentality is even creeping into in-person interactions as well. It’s impossible to bring up any timely topic without having someone launch into a diatribe about “them.” Thanks for the comment…can you tell I related to it?

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m with you. I opt out of many ways in which my friends and family choose to communicate. I won’t be pulled into pointless arguments that feed someone’s sense of superiority, while diminishing someone else’s humanity. It’s wrong, so I ignore them all. Say something positive or factual and I’m interested, but hateful drivel is not for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly how I feel, Ally! Even if I disagree with, or don’t like, the group they are disparaging, I still don’t want to listen to hateful talk. We don’t have to like everyone, but that doesn’t mean we get to dismiss them and rob them of their human dignity. Not everyone like us, either, and we certainly wouldn’t want to be treated like that!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a perfect message, Ann. I hear you! I have been uncomfortable around some dear friends (and one of my children) who refuse to get vaccinated. I’ve decided to just let my angst go. I can only control my own body and destiny – knowing full well that that is also an illusion. It’s just too much to extend my worry beyond that.
    You have a lot going on. You need every ounce of energy to devote to healing and extra drama just drains us. Great post, Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Judy! Yes, the decision not to get vaccinated is troublesome for sure, but as you say, ultimately, it’s their choice. We may not understand it, but we have to respect it. And yes, I do think that the health issues our family has faced this past year has made me see things more clearly: what is important, what isn’t, and how exactly I want to spend my time and what kind of person I want to be. Sometimes difficult circumstances do help us grow, as painful as they are.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m sorry that you had to take so many bites, Ann. When people don’t give each other peace, it’s always because there’s little of it in them in the first place. We can never agree on everything but why beat your opinions into others? I’ve never understood the reason for that. Yes, there comes a time when we need to shut some people out and head out to the countryside, so to speak, and so we must.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ciatlynne! I think you’re absolutely right. And I also agree that with some people, it’s impossible to get them to stop the negativity, and then it’s absolutely okay to simply back away from the relationship to give ourselves some much-needed peace. I really do believe that healthy boundaries are necessary for our emotional well being!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I hear you, Ann – I am done, too. It is exhausting following the news about this group and that, politics and geopolitics. The only useful comment I could make is that living in different parts of the world makes you realize we are more alike than unalike despite our superficial differences.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love this post Ann. It speaks to my heart and resonates with everything I believe. It’s time to do away with the division. Now all we need is the whole world to think like this. Thank you for writing this. Sending lots of love to you Ann from on the road in the outback (on a rare stretch where I have phone coverage). 🙏😊

    Liked by 1 person

  17. You are so right! We can keep an open mind and not listen to those who do not. The world is a much happier place when people treat one another with kindness and respect. It begins with us, and each one of us makes a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve been letting myself get sucked down the media drain, and it’s horrible. And it’s not just the news and social media … I’m finding that people are just angrier these days. I have a couple of close friends that I care for deeply, that I sometimes can’t stand to be around because they get on a rant-roll and won’t quit. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with them – it’s just ugly to hear! Made a decision about 10 days ago to resuscitate my blog, and am already feeling so much happier because the conversations out here in blog land are so much lighter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know! Many people thought I was only referring to social media when I wrote this, but I wasn’t. I have the same problem with some of my friends…they get on rants against “them” and just don’t want to let go of it. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or not, I’m not comfortable listening to it. I wish we could focus more on what we all have in common and work harder at trying to understand each other, but that doesn’t seem to be the popular way of looking at things. And I agree that the interactions on Word Press tend to be much more civil, and often also caring and supportive!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’ve also felt we’re becoming increasingly divided, increasing pitted against one another in a one-side-versus-another kind of way. Social media makes this all the more doable, where arguments are made, trolls come out, and it all gets messy. I like how you say about looking at what unites us because that really is so much more beneficial than the fighting and squabbling. It’s a tricky one because part of me wants to opt out as it’s easier and more sensible, but part of me wants to fight when it comes to trolls and bullies, where you get beaten down for having an opinion or standing up for the right thing or standing up in someone’s else’s defence. I suppose it’s a case of picking your battles wisely. I personally think peace and unity is the way forward; the world would be boring if we all thought the same, so everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But we’re not entitled to make other people feel like crap for it. I think this sort of issue – exactly what you’ve posted – is going to persevere for quite some time. The pandemic only served to make it more volatile, with masks vs maskless, economy vs human life, vaccine vs unvaccinated.

    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right, Caz, that the pandemic brought it out even more. Here in the States our politics have become unbelievably divided, with each side blaming the other for absolutely everything, up to and including original sin. And then along came the Covid Virus, which shook everyone up, and also showed us that everyone thought that their reaction to it was the ONLY sensible one. True diversity means respecting those who are different, but when we talk about it, we usually just mean we want to include those how look differently but think exactly like us. It doesn’t work that way. As you say, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and expressing it shouldn’t mean we’re exposing ourselves to bullying. Sometimes it feels as if we’re all back on the grade school playground, and not in a good way!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Ann, you’d think everybody would be tired of the contentiousness, wouldn’t you? And yet, here we are, with so much to be thankful for, but still squabbling like preschoolers over toys. I don’t get it. Those who focus on what they don’t have — in comparison with the things others do have — are doomed to be sad and miserable. Opting out of the arguments seems like a wise path to walk on, to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree! So much of it does remind me of very small children, who by their very nature, are unable to understand anyone’s needs but their own. Which is fine for toddlers, but not so great for adults. So at this point, opting out really does seem to be the best solution! Thanks for that affirmation!

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  21. Thanks for reminding me that I do have the power to choose whether or not I engage..and how and for what reasons I do so. Your post gave me the push I needed to reach out to a sister with whom I struggle because we hold such divergent opinions about so many things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have found that the best way to talk about the areas where we differ is to simply be willing to listen to what the other person says, and then to state your opinions in a clear, but not confrontational way. I think it also helps to say “I disagree” rather than “you’re wrong.” That way, your acknowledging that you think differently, but you’re not attacking their views. And sometimes, it’s okay to simply enjoy someone’s company without discussing the areas you know are touchy subjects. Whatever works for each of us is fine, as long as we’re not attacking each other, I think.

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  22. Yay! This is so awesome. I wish it were that easy. Seems like every where I turn I am force to engage on some level. It is so exhausting. Nowadays one can’t just live and let live because it seems by just living people think you are making some type of statement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, people do feel so very entitled to challenge our every move, don’t they? But you don’t have to engage with that, although it can be hard not to. One of the most useful phrases I’ve ever been taught is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” It acknowledges what someone has just said to you, but it doesn’t suggest you’re going to change your behavior to accommodate them.

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  23. There is so much hatred one for another. What happened? I feel like I blinked, and the world changed. I like your determination to take a stand and not be drawn in by the ugliness. I’ve lived in a number of different cultures over my adult life. It’s easy to sit back and analyze the differences, but when you are standing face-to-face with another, it’s much easier to simply talk and be together without judgement. The online battle ground is particularly divisive and ugly. We all need to make a stand against it. Thank you for your courage in saying what needs to be said, Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brenda! I like the way you put that, “I blinked, and the world changed.” I feel the same way! I don’t get why it’s suddenly okay to be so very ugly to anyone who we don’t agree with, and how so many people seem to be just looking for something to offend them. It doesn’t bode well for anyone, I believe.

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