This post is about empathy. If you can get through the football talk, I do finally come to a point at the end.
I have a hard time during Football season in Alabama. There’s two popular teams: Auburn and Alabama. You MUST choose one. I always tell people that I grew up a TN Vol fan, was die hard for a long time, then I met Donnie. His happiness hangs on the outcome of Alabama games, and I realized mine didn’t. I’d rather see HIM happy than MY TEAM win. So, while I still pull for the Vols, I wear Alabama gear because I want to see my husband happy.
BUT – My Facebook feed is about half and half. And people are VERY SERIOUS about their football around here. And it’s CRAZY AS SHIT. People posts statuses or links to pictures or articles that basically have one point: YOUR TEAM SUCKS. I always do my periodic FB status reminding people: Isn’t it nice to post things that say, “MY TEAM IS AWESOME!” instead of, “YOUR TEAM SUCKS”? Because – you know – I feel like I’d rather see SUPPORT than RIDICULE. But, it falls on super deaf ears and I’m the annoying Mom at the birthday part who is telling her kid to be quiet even though all of the other kids are screaming like maniacs.
I’m basically one giant buzzkill.
But I see a post that basically says all Bama fans are dumbass rednecks, or a graphic that says Auburn fans are just jealous of the Alabama dynasty or I’ll see people just referring to their team as playing “real” football and another person’s team as being “babies” or any NUMBER of childish insults and y’all?
IT UPSETS ME GREATLY.
I was with someone once who KNEW my husband was a Bama fan but they were an Auburn fan and they said, “All Bama fans are stupid rednecks. They’re the worst fans ever.” My husband just rolled his eyes and laughed it off but I WAS SEETHING. And then I was around Alabama fans who were making fun of Auburn fans and their attachment to Toomer’s Oaks. AND I WAS SEETHING.
But everyone does it. EVERYONE. People who are normally nice and sweet will post things on Facebook trashing the “other” team and their fans and I just DO NOT GET IT.
I grew up in a town where 90% of the people were TN Vol fans. Very rarely did I have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. BUT! One time I watched a game at a house and there was ONE person wearing a Georgia hat (we were playing Georgia) and so I toned it down. I cheered when we scored, and cheered when we stopped them from scoring…OF COURSE…but I didn’t join in on any of the Georgia Trash Talk. But other people were and LOVING throwing it in that guys face. “Where’s your team, dude? Is this the local Pee Wee team that showed up?” They were being ASSHOLES and in the end? I started secretly pulling for Georgia just so this guy could rub it in their faces.
I HATE IT.
So. This obviously relates to my level of Empathy, right? Even though I’m pretty certain most football fans that dish it out, can actually take it, I still don’t like it because I’m worried someone is going to get their feelings hurt. More importantly – I AM GETTING MY FEELINGS HURT. But still, I keep thinking about the quiet fans who don’t stir up shit but are still VERY passionate about their team and they are seeing the same stuff I’m seeing and they’re just trying to ignore it.
I just don’t get it. Why would you post something that insults people in your community? Do you think it’s fun? Do you honestly NOT CARE if people get upset? Is that the point? Do you LIKE upsetting people on the other side?
I just want to say when I see these posts:
I’m doing a Football Fan Survey. Please answer the following questions:
1. Do you realize this status/post is going to offend some of your friends/peers?
2. Do you enjoy that it offends them?
3. Do you think they should NOT be offended because you wouldn’t be offended?
4. Do you, therefore, not CARE if they’re offended because – since it wouldn’t bother you it shouldn’t bother them?
5. Do you do it for the PURPOSE of upsetting them?
6. Do you consider it payback because you get upset by the stuff they post all the time?
I mean, I really DO NOT GET IT and am trying to.
And yes, I know this is STUPID. Empathy and Alabama Football do NOT go together. I’m just going to have to survive this season the way I survive every season. Trying NOT to remember who posts the mean stuff on Facebook so that I can continue to like these people the rest of the year. And I have to remember: THIS CULTURE IS NOT FOR ME. I have too much empathy for it.
BUT: This microcosm – this world of Alabama football – is such a good example of the way I react to a lot of the world. You’re not supposed to talk religion or politics, but you CAN talk football. But people handle religion and politics the same way. I’ve seen no less than ONE DOZEN people post a meme basically blasting the atheists for wanting to remove the cross at ground zero. Several posts referred to the atheists as “THEM” like they were some sort of entity that should be destroyed. And here I am, an atheist, trying not to take it all so personally. When people say, “Our country is failing because we don’t pray anymore” and things like that – you are putting the problems in this country on MY shoulders. And I take it personally.
But I can’t come out and say, “You blaming everything bad on people like me hurts my feelings” because that’s talking religion and politics and I don’t want to upset people. And I’m embarrassed. Why do I have such a thin skin? Why do I get upset so easily? So I bring it back to football and I say, “Hey! Maybe focus more on posting things to support the team you LIKE instead of the team you HATE,” then it kinda gets the same point across, right?
I don’t know. I’m just getting my feelings hurt SO MUCH lately by stupid Facebook. If I didn’t love it some much (I still want to keep up with person who blames everything that’s wrong with kids these days on taking prayer out of school) I would probably walk away. I’m sick of people blaming non-Christians and a lack of religion/prayer for all of the bad things in this country/world. I AM A GOOD PERSON. Just because I choose to worship ZERO of the gods of global religions where you worship ONE of them, doesn’t mean I have no morals or ethics. I have a VERY strong believe in right/wrong and I’m raising my kids with VERY clear concepts of morality. Atheists are not bad people.
And politics. A family member left a comment on someone’s status last week saying – and this is a quote, “I just don’t know how anyone who loves this country can continue to vote Democrat.” Do you know that – because I voted for and support Democrats doesn’t mean that I’m 100% on board with everything they do? I supported Clinton too, but I still want to punch him in the face for being part of DoMA. I did NOT vote for Bush but I still supported a lot of the Medicare reform he helped push. (Don’t get me started on how angry I get when I see my liberal friends post things that basically say all Republicans hate the poor.) The funny things was, until seeing that comment, I thought that family member was a Democrat. HA! Guess not? But my point – posting that comment insulted an entire group within his community – does he know it upset me? Does he care? I couldn’t even respond to him because the status was made by someone I’m not friends with. Why does Facebook show me things I can’t comment on?
Another perfect example: Memes that refer to all people on government assistance as lazy and unproductive members of society. I spent several years milking all I could out of the government while I tried to make ends meet working and going to college. YOU UPSET ME WITH YOUR GENERALIZATIONS.
I feel like that – in order to live my life to the fullest – I have to keep people in my life who are different from me. My Christians friends are very important to me, as are my Conservative friends. I would never want to offend them with anything I say or do. I need Alabama fans AND Auburn fans in my life. So, I worry every day about keeping everyone in my life because they make my life better. And I do things that screw that up sometimes, I have posted comments on articles my liberal friends post and I tend to forget my conservative friends can see it…and so they get hurt by my words.
(True Story: Found out a friend was VERY anti-gay marriage that way. Someone who knows the members of my family who are gay and how much they mean to me. Remember, people. Your comments can be seen by your friends if the FB algorithm decides it’s something you want to see.)
So, I’ve offended people before and I feel AWFUL about it. But it’s always an “accident” in that, I thought I was in a room with only TN Vol fans when I was bashing your football team. That is NOT a good excuse, but sometimes we feel safe surrounded by like-minded people. And I need to remember all of my words can be seen online. I need to save the bashing for the privacy of my own home. So, I’m more careful now. I save my outrage for in my home.
(Because I’m not going to pretend like I don’t get ragey and bash people/ideas/groups. I do have to vent.)
Maybe I should changed my cover photo to say something like, “I’m a Sensitive Liberal Atheist Who Hates All Alabama/Auburn Trash Talk. Please Do Not Friend Me If You Are Going To Post Things That Make Me Cry. I Cry Very Easily.”
It’s just this time of year that reminds me SO AGGRESSIVELY how different I am from many in the world. Or at least many in my FB feed. And so I kinda hate football season on Facebook. I’m constantly fretting about people getting their feelings hurt by all of these aggressive posts. If I could figure out how to block all football statuses I’d be SO VERY HAPPY.
I wrote this post very upset and blubbery (DAMN YOU FOOTBALL SEASON) and then edited it because the first draft was WAY too emotional. I also added more specific examples in because I worry being too general comes off as passive aggressive. So, if you’re reading in a feed reader? I’m sorry you get the stupid/raw/emotional/passive aggressive version of this post. I should probably edit BEFORE I publish but then that takes all of the fun out of blogging-while-ranting.