The Social Purge

Over the past few years I’ve noticed something about myself. My ideas about the world around me are changing. Things that I used to have a problem with no longer upset me. And things that I was once accustomed to is really starting to bother me. I don’t know if it’s something that comes with age, but ideologically speaking…I’m a different person than I was twenty years ago. Actually, I think I’ve changed a lot just in the last ten years or so. I’ll give a few examples.

When I was a kid growing up here in the south I was taught that homosexuality was a sin and that anyone that is homosexual is going to Hell. I no longer think that way. I now think that homosexuals are regular people who have a lifestyle that is a little different than mine. I believe that their choice of mate should have nothing to do with their rights and that loving someone is not a reason to go to Hell.

I was raised in an area that was pretty thick with racism. The hatred was mostly directed toward black people, but racists are usually equal opportunity haters. People of another ethnicity were usually regarded as being lesser citizens, which I find funny as I look back now because most of the people that thought that way were not very well off themselves. I have to say that I heard the “n” word daily for a long time…and no, I didn’t grow up in the 60s. This was the 80s.

I live in a part of the country that is thick with the belief that all of our laws should be written based on what the scriptures they believe in say. People say that this country was founded on those beliefs and that it is the standard that our entire country should abide by. As I’ve matured I now realize just how much of a melting pot America really is. I see that there are people of all kinds of nationalities and beliefs and that forcing them to live their lives according to the morals of one group of people is insane!

This country was not founded by a bunch of people that wanted freedom to worship the way that they wanted. This country was founded by a bunch of people that wanted the freedom to choose how to live their lives without their government forcing their beliefs on them.

Does that sound familiar? But that’s a different discussion.

I’m talking today about my social purge. Over the last few years I’ve read things on Facebook that have made me cringe. Things written by people that I’ve known for years. Things written by members of my family. Homophobic or racial comments that I would not dare say in a public place, much less in a public forum. Whenever my local news channels post about sensitive issues such as Black Lives Matter or gay marriage, I’m embarrassed by the comments that my fellow Alabamians write below the stories. This state, and especially this city, has a long history of hatred that was rightfully earned…but it’s one that a lot of us would like to see some redemption from. Unfortunately, there are those out there that still hold on to some of those beliefs and won’t let it go.

Over the past couple of years I’ve tried to make a few waves going in the opposite direction. I’ve tried to post things that go along with my newer mindset in the hopes that people could just get a glimpse of the other side of the argument. I’ll post a short status update supporting a gay couple who is being denied their marriage license. I’ll give support to a trans gender teenager that doesn’t want to be forced to use the boys’ room for fear of violence. I’ll make fun of Trump.

I love to make fun of Trump…but I love to make fun of Hillary as well.

But, when I make those waves they usually crash against a brick wall. I’ll get comments that quote a lot of scripture as if Bible verses are the ending to any argument…usually written by someone that isn’t really understanding the argument to begin with.

I don’t want to cause strife. I don’t want to be the cause of anger. I don’t want to tick off family members before Thanksgiving.

So, I’m making a conscious decision. I’m not doing it anymore.

I’m not making political posts anymore. I’m not making any more posts about racism. I’m not going to talk about social issues…at least not on Facebook.

I’ll still make posts about bullying, since that is a topic near my heart. And some of those posts may have to do with some of those other topics. But I’m not spouting my position on those topics on social network sites anymore.

I have a blog. I will get all of that out here on this site and I’ll share the link on Facebook. If anyone wants to know what I think then I’ll tell them.

My Facebook page is going to be used for promoting my websites, plugging my podcasts, posting funny pics and memes, and staying in touch with family and friends. Everything else will fall here.

My Facebook page is going to become a much more positive place. Hopefully, it will be a place that you can come to when you want to forget about the stuff that other people are posting.

It's okay to not like things...

Right now the world is a very serious place. There is a lot of violence happening all over the place. The past few months has seen hatred spewing from both sides of every issue. And then last week the internet proved that there are people sitting primed and ready to pounce on any issue.

ANY issue.

Last week Nintendo introduced a new app called Pokémon Go. It’s an augmented reality game based on the popular franchise from the 90s. If I just lost you then give me a second to explain two things…what Pokémon is and what augmented reality is.

In the 90s there was a cartoon series along with a bunch of video games called Pokémon. The basic premise was that there are tiny monsters all over the world called Pokémon. They all have unique powers and live in different habitats. On the show there were kids that would catch the little creatures and use them in tournaments against one another. The video games, toys, card games, and board games worked on the same idea.

As far as augmented reality…the way the game works is that you walk around in real life using a virtual map on your phone. When you find a Pokémon then you will see it with your phone’s camera in real life. The creature might be on the ground in front of you or it might be sitting on someone’s head. You have to catch the creature.

If you don’t know what an app is then I suggest you stop reading this blog and join the 21st century.

I have not played the game. Pokémon was not something that I got into when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even rear their little heads until my senior year of high school. So, when I heard about this game the only response it got out of me was an appreciation for Nintendo’s ability to draw from deep within their nostalgic well.

But it did get a response out of millennials because those are the people that really loved the whole craze back in the day. It’s also been really popular with kids who aren’t old to remember when everything in the store had a Pikachu on it.

But my blog today is not about the game itself. It’s about haters.

Immediately after the game came out people across the internet went to their phones and their keyboards to talk about how stupid it was. They talked about what a complete waste of time it was to go out and walk around looking for Pokémon. There was a game store near my house that had a Pokémon catching event and someone took pictures of the kids walking up and down the sidewalk looking at their phones so that they could post it to social media and make fun of them.

You’re making fun of kids for liking a game. Are you kidding me? And it’s not even a game that requires them to sit in a dark room and stare at a TV for hours. They’re going outside. They’re exercising. They’re talking to other kids…and you’re sitting on your butt in your car taking pictures of them to make fun of them.

Why can’t we just let people like things? Not everyone is going to enjoy playing a Pokémon game. So what? If you don’t like it then don’t play it.

This is something that I’ve dealt with all of my life. I was into Star Trek in high school. I got made fun of a lot because I read Star Trek novels at school and I had Star Trek T-shirts. But the same kids that made fun of me would read Sports Illustrated and wear their favorite team’s jersey. What makes the thing that you like more acceptable than the thing that I like? The only difference is that you’re being a jerk about it and proclaiming that my thing is dumb.

I can’t tell you how upset that I get when I mention that I’m looking forward to “fill in the blank” and someone in the group loudly says “Gah! Fill in the blank is so stupid!”.

No, it’s not stupid. I actually really like “fill in the blank”. You don’t have to like it but you can keep your opinions to yourself.

And the argument that you’re making about why Pokémon Go should be banned is not valid. I know that someone was robbed because they wondered into a trap. I know that car accidents have happened because people were trying to play the game while they were driving. I know that kids have wondered into the street while staring at their phones. The game isn’t to blame for that. That is behavior that has been going on for years thanks to texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Kik, and a thousand other apps. People that need something to spew their hate vomit on are focusing on the game. IT’S NOT THE GAME!

There are stupid people in every group. That doesn’t make the group stupid.

So, instead of making fun of these kids for liking something that you don’t like…why don’t you shut up and let them play their game?

There is a great little diddy that sums it up that I’m going to post below but I’ll warn you that it has a curse word in it before you click on it.

Thanks. Now go do the thing that you like that I’m not making fun of.

Wake up call!

Anyone that has read this blog or the blogs that I had before know a little bit about my struggles with my weight. I’ve delved into it in depth before in writing and on my podcast, Shrinking Shawn. I’ve been at a hiatus for a while now as I haven’t been able to get a good running start back into weight loss so far this year. I’ve been stagnate for all of 2016. I’ve lost a little weight but it hasn’t been very much.

My battles with my weight have very much mirrored my father. He didn’t grow up overweight like I did, but he put it on as an adult. He’s lost a significant amount of weight and put it back on several times in my lifetime, just as I have. I’ve seen him try every diet that you can think of. He was a vegetarian for a while. He did the Atkins diet. He rode a bike. He golfed. He took daily hikes.

He was a fireman for most of my childhood. He was forced to retire from the fire department about 15 years ago because he had developed COPD and an enlarged heart. A week ago we got the call that he was going to the ER. The doctor said that he had a heart attack.

It turned out that he had not actually had a heart attack, but he was very close to one. They did some tests and found that he had several arterial blockages. The artery that is known as “The Widowmaker” had a 98% blockage. He was months…maybe weeks…from a fatal event.

You know that my wife and I have had a very difficult year so far. I lost my mother to cancer back in April. Sherri lost and uncle and an aunt to cancer within the last two months. Her mother has also undergone breast cancer surgery in the last year. It’s been a lot to deal with. So, hearing this was difficult to swallow.

My dad and I haven’t always been on the best of terms. Things are good now, but they haven’t always been. But even in the times that they weren’t, I still care about the guy. No one wants to see their dad get sick and go into the hospital. You especially don’t want to see him have to have open heart surgery.

But that’s what happened yesterday. He had a quadruple bypass. We saw him last night right after it was over. He was still asleep but he was breathing well and his heart rate was normal. We went home with peace that he would be alright.

And I went home with resolve. I stood in the hospital and images of my mother lying in that hospice bed ran through my mind. I heard her voice in my head and that horrible afternoon that I watched her die replayed in my head.

Then I saw something else. I saw myself.

I saw where the road that I was on was heading.

My birthday was this past Monday. I shared a picture from last year’s birthday where my mom had made me cupcakes when I went to visit her. Another thing that she had given me was running clothes. Running clothes that don’t fit right now but I know that she gave them to me because she had been proud of the changes that I was making at the time.

I swear, Mom…I’ll get back to that.

Everyone continue to pray for my dad. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

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