Hartley: Why my callous indifference is a good thing
I’m With Stupid
It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and then I’ll write a column about a grown-up subject that will touch some nerves and generate more than its fair share of responses. Last week, evidently, was one of those times. The subject of the column is immaterial; the point is that I ruffled some feathers and upset some people, and I’d like to speak to them personally this week.
Hi, guys and gals. How’s it going?
With regard to your hurt feelings, I’m going to say something that maybe people should have been saying to you for a few years now. Please keep in mind that I’m not saying this to be a jerk or to be spiteful. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and I have no ill feelings or opinions about you, despite the fact that many of you, judging by your comments, have decided I’m an idiot for holding a view that is counter to yours.
Having said that, here’s what I’d like to tell you if I hurt your feelings: I don’t care. I really don’t, and I’m saying that mostly because it’s true but also because I think we as Americans might have reached the point where we need to start caring a little less about one another’s feelings. I know that sounds horrible, especially coming from a straight, white male, but if you’ll give me a few paragraphs, I’ll try to explain what I mean.
Once upon a time, if you read something that upset you, there were a couple of things you could do about it: You could write — on paper with a pen or pencil — a letter to the editor, and then you could fold it, put it in an envelope, slap a stamp on it and put it in the mail, and in a week or so your letter might get printed in the offending publication; or you could figure out where the offending author lived and confront him or her personally.
However, since the former option was the sort of thing only cranky old folks did and the latter option was potentially criminal, most people took option C, which was to suck it up and deal with their feelings in their own ways, which ultimately thickened their skin and made them mentally tougher and more prepared to deal with the real world.
But that was then. Today, we have the Internet, where most of the things you read have a comments section, meaning that if what you read upsets you, you can instantly gripe about it, express your outrage and have your upset feelings acknowledged.
If you find that some like-minded commenters also are upset, you can get together and demand that the author apologize. In many cases, the author might even do it, and you will come to the incorrect conclusion that your feelings matter to someone other than yourself. This will have the net result of turning you into a pouty, mewling crybaby.
That would be fine if it happened in a vacuum (and believe me, I wouldn’t care), but when too many people become mewling crybabies, America suffers, and we end up looking like a nation of spoon-fed, over-coddled wimps.
Look, I’m not saying that everyone should rush out and be a jackass and not worry about it, but if you say or write something that you mean and you’re comfortable with your views and yourself as a human being, you should never let others make you feel guilty or ashamed for believing what you believe, and unless you’re demonstrably wrong about something, you should never apologize.
I’m no fan of Donald Trump (truth be told, I think he’s a loud-mouthed buffoon), but I will give him credit for one thing: As wrong-headed, uninformed and stupid as his statements about illegal immigrants might be, he apparently believes them and he’s standing unapologetically behind them. Much as I might disrespect the man, I respect the fact that he’s staying true to himself.
Anyway, I realize that this sentiment — that we should start giving less of a crap about other people’s feelings — is going to be a tough sell. I’m sure people who are used to having their hurt sensibilities mollified won’t be fans. But I really do think this is in America’s best interests, so I’m going to start doing it.
So once again, if I hurt your feelings last week or at any time in the past seven years, I don’t care.
Todd Hartless — I mean Hartley — would probably be more sensitive to feelings if he had any. To read more or leave a comment, visit zerobudget.net.
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