It has already been 12 days since Robin Williams died. Wow.
In those 12 days we’ve learned a lot. Not so much about Robin Williams (although there was much to learn) but more about how we react to a Robin Williams death. Especially one that was the result of suicide.
Although the overwhelming response has been sad, thoughtful and loving, some among us have taken this as the time to chime in with our own two cents. Two nasty cents.
Henry Rollins, who is apparently someone, asks about Robin Williams, “How in the hell could you possibly do that to your children?”
Gene Simmons, legendary member of the band KISS, decided to wag his tongue in an interview (which attracted the public’s eye following the Robin Williams suicide) and suggested that those who suffer from depression should kill themselves. This prompted the #BanGene hashtag to organically go viral and Simmons has since apologized and shut down his Twitter account.
Shepard Smith, an anchor on FOX News, publicly apologized after calling Robin William a “coward” on air.
Of course, this sort of over-sharing of noxious opinions is nothing new.
Bill Maher isn’t working this August but he did find time to appear on Comedy Central and ask a question I’ve also been pondering, “Do you think social media has made us bigger assholes, or we were bigger assholes and it just exposed us as being that?”
I can’t presume to know what is in the mind of Bill Maher but I think, perhaps, what he’s trying to espouse is a bit of homespun wisdom I learned from my momma a long, long time ago.
Now hold up there, pardner. This is America. We got our first amendment rights and such. You momma may be a fine woman but she ain’t gonna tell me what I can and can’t say.
You see, I got the right to my opinions. Not only that, I got the right to share my opinion, whether it has been requested or not. And now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and such, I can share my opinions to a larger audience than I could ever possibly reach before. Opinion sharing and thought-provoking content like “Hey look at me!” is basically why social media was invented. I’m a content producer.
This sort of thinking works even better when you fold in a healthy distaste for all things “politically correct.”
What is political correctness? It’s basically the belief that a person has the right to say whatever they want with no consideration to the feelings of other people. If your words hurt another person and cause injury or pain how the hell is that your problem? They should toughen up and not be so damn touchy feely, right?
the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
In other words, political correctness is simply the concept of following your momma’s advice. It’s making an effort not to set apart or cause pain to people who are different or disadvantaged compared to you. It’s being more evolved than the kindergarten playground. Hell, why even be alive if you can’t act like that, right?
The people who seem to spend a great deal of time railing against the perceived injustice and restriction of political correctness are simply doing us all an enormous favor and pointing themselves out as assholes. For this we should be thankful. Can you imagine if they were intelligent enough to remain more concealed?
So we all got opinions and, as we’ve clearly established, we have the right to share them no matter how hurtful and offensive they are. Let ’em fly! Show the world what a great person you are.
“You smell disgusting.”
“I hope you get cancer and die.”
“Your children are brats.”
City sidewalks could be so much more fun! Why limit this sort of thing to the internet or celebrity suicide? Feel free to say whatever thought passes through your brain to every stranger you meet. What could possibly go wrong?
Reasonable people can choose to disagree on controversial issues. Intelligence allows for more than one point of view. The only thing I don’t understand is the joy and self-righteousness that some seem to revel in when it comes to being a source of pain to other human beings. When did we become like that? Like Bill Maher wonders, is it something new or has it always been this way?
A person has died. What do our reactions say about ourselves?
In life Robin Williams made us laugh. With his passing he held up a mirror to our faces. Do we like what we see?