Among my many faults, the deepest and most invasive is my innate need to be right all of the time.
I can’t exactly tell you where it stems from, probably because I found such a positive outlet for it in school. Catholic school, to be more precise. The teachers and nuns were so good at their jobs and I was so well indoctrinated that I had a very hard time considering other religions as religions in their own right, even when I literally lived across the street from a Methodist church where I attended nursery school.
(I’ll save my very detailed journey from avowed Catholic girl to someone who now considers herself an atheist for another post.)
I was good at school–elementary school, high school, college–because school had right and wrong answers. I excelled at trivia and other knowledge-based games because I had a good memory and I remembered the answers.
I took a lot of philosophy-based psychology courses in (a Catholic) college, and one of the side effects in studying how different people viewed the world was to challenge your own assumptions and perceptions underlying your belief systems. I discovered that my values weren’t reflected in the religious views I’d held for so long. Along the way, I learned that other people held very strict beliefs because of their worldview, and there were reasons for that, just like there were reasons I’d once believed that it was perfectly all right to tell a complete stranger who wasn’t allowed to get married or have sex all of the things I’d done wrong the week before.
Very long story short, I became open-minded and more accepting of other people.
(Because I thought it was right to do so and as we all know by this point, I always strive to be right!)
Then along came the Internet, followed quickly by social media; most specifically, Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook and Twitter are my daily exercises in restraint and caution. Being the mother of two children and being distracted by them and their antics on most days helps, but when people post thoughtless and pointless diatribes based on hollow premises, I am so sorely tempted to post a rebuttal replete with links and annotations that sometimes I have to walk away.
I’ve learned that people only post things about which they feel either very positively or very negatively. They have no interest in being persuaded otherwise, because most times they don’t ask for opinions or advice. Whenever I read something that offends me to a granular level, I have to go hunt for baby pictures or recipe videos to like.
Deep down, I like reading about diverse opinions because sometimes, even to this day with my beliefs pretty well encased in concrete, I find a unique perspective that forces me to rethink some of my beliefs, and I sort of of like it when that happens.
That all being said, I’ve defriended two people from Facebook: someone I met when I first came to this town (and knew immediately we wouldn’t get along) and someone from high school. The first person was a Very Nerdy Traditional Catholic (doesn’t believe in sex before marriage, doesn’t believe in birth control, has lots of issues with a Jesuit Pope) who posted an article saying that vaccinations contained aborted fetal cells. The second was a person who posted (since refuted) articles about vaccinations causing autism and said she was outraged that her federal assistance wouldn’t cover homeopathic alternatives.
Vaccinations are public health’s biggest success story of the last two hundred years, IDIOTS.