Monday, March 31, 2014

Whose Opinion Is It Anyway?

Before I start, I'll say this: I have realized that blogging itself is not a waste of time; what is a waste of time is writing essentially the same thing again and again, as well as badgering people to read what I've written.  So, from now on, I'll stick to writing about something once, and that's it...at least, for a while.  I can't promise that I'll never write about the same topic twice, but what I can promise you is that it won't be five posts in a row about the exact same thing.  Still with me? All right, here we go.

Consider these situations:
1. You're fourteen years old, and your mother just adopted a new dog.  In an attempt to help you and the dog become friends, she puts his crate in your bedroom.  Do you:
A. Fall asleep with a big smile on your face.
B. Spend half the night trying to come up with a name for your new canine companion.
C. Become so upset that you can't even sleep.

2. Your older sister and her husband bring your niece and nephew over for your parents to baby-sit; they're taking a trip to Busch Gardens, but don't want to spend all their time on the "kiddie" rides.  They come over, drop their kids off, and leave before you know it.  What do you think to yourself?
A. "Why couldn't they have brought me along?"
B. "Oh, well; maybe some other time."
C. "Whew! Boy, am I glad they didn't ask me to come along!"

3. One of your favorite singers is doing a local concert.  You enter into a contest to win tickets, but end up losing.  What do you do?
A. See if your parents will take you anyway.
B. Ask your local Facebook friends if they'll attend it with you.
C. Realize it's not that big of a deal; said singer has no idea who you are, and wouldn't even remember you if she met you, so, you'll stick to listening to her on your iPod.

Most of you probably answered A or B to all of those questions, right? Well, those stories aren't just hypothetical; they really happened to me, and, in every case, my response was C.  To most people, though, that would sound odd: Who wouldn't want a new dog? Why would someone be glad to not go to Busch Gardens? What kind of reason is that to not see one of your favorite singers in concert?  That's just it, though; I'm not them, and my preferences are usually contrary to popular opinion.

Conventional advice says that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right? Well, you wouldn't know it from some of the people I've unfortunately known.  One former friend once said to me, "You are very rigid about your opinions, and it seems that if one does not agree with you, they are persecuting you, or just wrong." That's not even close to being true; in recent years, I've known people whose opinions were totally contrary to mine...but I just let it go, because their opinion wasn't going to affect me.  There are times when it does smack of persecution, but only in these cases:
  • Is the person's opinion preventing me from doing what I want or need to do?
  • Is the person's opinion based on "facts" which he/she thinks are true, but I know they're not?
  • Is the person even understanding what I am saying?
  • Is the person refusing to keep their mouth shut about their opinion?
It's no surprise that said former friend is good friends with a high school teacher of mine who annoyingly tried to pressure me into taking a trip to Busch Gardens; said instructor insisted that I'd have a blast if I went...but that wasn't her decision.  It'd be one thing if she just mentioned it once or twice, but, that woman was pretty much rubbing it in my face.  It's not just those two, though; throughout my life, various people have insisted that I do what they want instead of what I know would be better for me.

There lies the rub, however: If someone is going to be my friend, he/she must be respectful of my opinions.  Think of it this way: How would you like it if you had a so-called friend who criticized your life decisions--i.e., "You shouldn't have married _________!", "Why did you take a job in ______?", or, "Why aren't you into ______? Everyone else is!"--every chance he/she got? Wouldn't that drive you crazy, and make you want to literally unfriend that person after a while? Well, I can't stand it when people say the same things about anything I choose to do, from working at a library to bargain hunting to watching the Disney Channel.  If someone chooses to spend their time doing something else, that's their choice; I don't mind if someone says, "I'm not a fan of ______", or, "I watched ______, but I couldn't get into it."  What I mind is if someone says, "You shouldn't be watching ______," or, "You're into ________? That's stupid!" That right there smacks of harassment; instead of expressing their opinion of a show, book series, or hobby, they're insulting me.

In conclusion, I will say this: A longtime friend recently told me, "You assume Christian maturity in all Christians." Actually, what I expect is maturity from not only all Christians, but people in general.  It's true that most of the people I interact with frequently are Christians; I attend church three times a week, and even a few of my co-workers have told me of their Christian beliefs.  Still, I do have friends who call themselves agnostics, "modern heathens," or, in one case, a solipsist.  Why do I expect maturity from everyone? Simply put, the majority of people I am in contact with are around my age--that is, well into their twenties--or older, and the time for immature, childish behavior is past.  Unfortunately, as many of us are well aware, immaturity is rampant in today's society; too often, adults--of all ages, I should add--act like they're in middle school.  It does no good to tell them that, though; when my high school Physics teacher--who had previously taught eighth grade science--accused her class of acting like middle schoolers, a friend who was part of that class was rather upset, and he probably wasn't the only one.  What makes it even worse is that it seems that those who admit to not being Christians oftentimes are more mature than those who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  It's as Jesus said in Matthew 21:31c: "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." It shouldn't be that way, but it is.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Has the Internet Done to Me?

You make for a lousy pastime!
I'm going to try and keep this short, but you know how long-winded I can be: Earlier this week, I was watching the audition episodes of the current season of The Voice, a singing competition show on NBC.  One of the contestants sang the song "Can't You See" by the Marshall Tucker Band, which I had heard previously, but had never really thought about what the lyrics were saying.  When I heard the chorus--"Can't you see what that woman, Lord, she been doin' to me?"--I realized that it was a prayer of sorts; the singer's significant other was driving him crazy, so, he was calling out to God in desperation.  I may not be dating or married, but, I feel the same way about a "relationship" of sorts with a certain entity that has been going on for over a decade and a half.  What is it? Entertainment? No; that'll probably always be my thing.  Celebrities? Honestly, the whole "celebrity crush" thing has been phased out for a while; I became able to admire the works, abilities, and looks of various famous people--of both genders, I should add--without bandying their names about as if they're my best friends.  Facebook? I just ended that "relationship" recently, but it hasn't been going on that long.  The answer is...the Internet.

"What is the Internet doing to me?" It's an interesting question that those of us who use it often should ask.  For me, my "relationship" with the Internet started back in 1998, when I used the school's computers to research my favorite topics: Scooby-Doo, Growing Pains, the Disney Channel, Garfield, Ty Beanie Babies, etc.  It didn't take long for me to learn how to copy images and store them on the computers' hard drives; some of my classmates even once used a picture of the Mystery, Inc. gang that I had stored on the Scrapbook desktop application for a project.  In 1999, we got our second Mac, which happened to be the first computer we ever hooked up to the Internet.  Though I wasn't allowed to have instant messaging or attachments in my e-mails--which was a smart decision on my mom's part, as I had too many distractions and got into enough trouble as it was--I spent plenty of time looking up information about my new favorite topics: Pok√©mon, Nintendo, Christian music, and the like.  I didn't start using the Internet for communication until 2002, though, when I found my way to a online forum about the Christian band dc Talk.  It didn't take long for me to become addicted, though I still spent plenty of time reading as much as I could about whatever I was obsessed with at the time.  In 2006, I joined Facebook, and we all know what happened after that.

However, I feel that, even without Facebook, the Internet is simply a time-waster.  It's one thing to use it to find information: the phone number of a local business, what the critics are saying about the newest blockbuster, how to fix a Samsung dishwasher...whatever.  However, sometimes, even without Facebook, the Internet can be information overload.  True, there's plenty of gossip online, but it doesn't even have to be that.  Last night, just randomly, I went on the Internet Movie Database page for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and ended up reading the entire trivia section, even though there was nothing in there that I really needed to know.  I then proceeded to do the same for the theatrical tie-in movie, and got the same results.  Prior to that, I had just gotten out of the shower, and I had wanted to watch some shows on my DVR before turning in for the night...but, instead, I wasted my time with something pointless.  It wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the Internet.

Many years ago, before I knew the nature of my condition, my mom mentioned something about being "autistic" while driving me somewhere.  I had no idea what that term meant, so I asked her, and she explained to me by fiddling with the keys on her key chain, and explained that, for someone autistic, "a bomb could go off," and he/she would still be sitting there, fiddling with whatever.  Some of you may know someone who is severely autistic, and does just that; though my condition is much milder than that, I still have a problem with misusing time.  One my my friends once defined "doing nothing" as "expending your energy on something that gives nothing or almost nothing back," and I think that's what I've spent right much time doing, not only on Facebook, but online and on the computer in general.

What does that mean for me? Well, pretty much, it means that I'm going to put a stop to this blog.  Most of the time, all I do is vent about my problems with whoever or whatever, speaking in generic terms so I won't offend anyone.  Even many of my "parodies" were attacks on people, which lost me friends at times.  I've wasted many an hour on posts on here, not realizing that not only did it not get me anywhere, but I had plenty of other, better things I could be doing.  As I said in my final Facebook note: If people wanted to keep in touch with me, they'd find a way to do it.  I bet most of my friends wouldn't even know about this blog if it weren't for Facebook, and I probably wouldn't even have started it in the first place.

I will end on this note: Last year, my church did a Bible trivia competition based on the book of James.  An old teen Bible of mine said the whole point of said book is: Don't just talk about it; DO IT! I've wasted way too much time talking about what I'm going to do; I need to just do it...and that's what I'm going to do!