By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog for this special “Uh oh…he’s cheesed off” edition.
People get so upset about such petty things. A number of years ago (long ago that they did not have scanners), I was at a deli in Boston. They had a refrigerator with drinks by the door, so, when they were ringing up the sandwich, I said, “Please add a pop to it and I’ll grab it on the way out.” The woman standing next to me said, in a very serious and snide tone, “It’s a ‘soda’!” I looked back at her and said, “no, it’s a carbonated beverage.”
Seriously, we’re all in this together. Does everybody have to agree with us on everything? Today, a friend of mine posted her doubt in a new upcoming superhero movie, as if we don’t have enough of those already. Apparently, somebody commented on her post their disagreement, referring to her as an “ignorant b*”. She felt so uncomfortable that she removed the post.
I don’t even know where to begin on this. First of all, let’s talk about the term b*, that frankly, I don’t even want to write out. And, let me say straight out, I love b*’s. No, not like a rapper using the term in a sexualized manner, but rather, the qualities we might assign to a woman we might call one. Often it applies to women who are intelligent, outspoken, strong, independent, courageous, willing to stand up for what she believes, and not afraid to tell you if you’re wrong. Which of these qualities am I supposed to find unattractive?
Unfortunately, men (those men weak enough to be threatened by such a woman) tend to use the term in a threatening manner. This isn’t right. In fact, it’s something a bully would pull, and shows weakness in the men who throw the term around in such a manner. Here’s an idea, why don’t we be better men? It’s okay if a woman disagrees with us. For that matter, it’s okay if a woman is better educated, higher payed, more intelligent, stronger, faster, better. If you have a problem with it, it’s your problem, not hers.
For that matter, let’s talk for a moment about disagreements. There is a distinct difference between passion and anger. If you are passionate enough about the superhero universe to have a strong opinion on the DC vs. Marvel debate, there is really nothing wrong with this, but let’s be real…it’s not a topic on which most people will hold an opinion. If you are strongly on one side of the debate, that’s fine, you’re allowed, but please understand that not everybody will feel strongly, if at all. And there is nothing wrong with sharing your opinions. But if you become so angry that you feel the need to threaten a friend on a social media site, then you may want to re-think how you are living your life. The reality is that you are causing undue stress to a lot of people, but more than anything, you are making your own life dark. If you are like this, the negativity in your life is probably your own making, at least to a significant amount. Just be cool. State your opinion calmly and move on.
I happen to be passionate about thermodynamics, and the second law in particular. Yes, this makes me a geek, but that’s okay. I own it. Call me what you like, I’m comfortable in my own skin. The thing about the second law is that it us often misquoted, and certainly misunderstood. When I see this happen, I will state my view, but I state it, and drop it. My thoughts are out there, and that’s fine. I’ll answer questions if they come up, but I won’t get into an argument about it.
I have actually written a book, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m frankly tired of sparkly martial arts vampires with emotional problems, so I decided just to write my own story. Talking about this with a friend, a man who I had met only half an hour ago overheard this and decided to “correct” me on something I had said. He argued his point vehemently. I looked at him, blinked, and said, “you do realize that vampires are fictional creatures, don’t you?” His response? “Well, yes, but…” I walked away. How can you win an argument about something that does not exist? State your opinion, then let it go.
My favorite couple of all time are Jim and Karen. I met them in graduate school. Jim was a very bright man, very good at what he did, solid, with great potential, but Karen was a star. Everything about her said that there was no limit to her if she would be allowed to rise. And Jim seemed to know this. The reason I love this couple so much is that he put away his male ego, and let her shine. He gave her support, and was clearly proud of her. A few years ago, I saw a mini-documentary produced by a company, and it focused on Karen. In this twenty minute documentary, they showed her home and flashes of her life. Briefly, for a few seconds, I saw Jim, in the background, playing with their children in the yard.
Jim is a man!