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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Where is the line between self-protection and self-censorship?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30550points) January 20th, 2014

I am very wary of asking this question on Fluther. I very nearly asked it on another smaller forum, because I realized I do not feel safe on Fluther. I decided that’s bullshit, so here I am asking it.

We get many questions on controversial topics here. The questions range from those seeking honest information and an open exchange of ideas to those seeking to draw others out in order to ridicule them and their views.

In the past three months, I have been burnt on questions of bigotry and religion. It left a bitter after taste.

After some time to cool down, I asked jellies I respect and friends not on this website what I could do to avoid the unpleasant emotions.

I heard two common themes.

I was told to grow a thick skin. Frankly, I don’t want one. I like being sensitive and feeling things. I want to be accepted for that.

I was told more often to ignore the controversial topics. I disagree. Ignoring in that case is self-censorship, and that’s bullshit. I shouldn’t have to remain silent to protect my own peace of mind. I should be treated with respect simply because I’m human.

Before I hear that participation in certain threads, which leads to feeling negative emotions, being my fault, I would assert that is blaming the victim. I believe I should be free to participate in any thread I wish without the fear of ridicule.

I am honestly looking for a mature way to participate on Fluther and remain true to me at the same time. I enjoy exchanging ideas on a very wide range of topics.

The idea I must censor me is vile and insidious.

When does protecting oneself by ignoring certain whole sections of questions become self-censorship?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

funkdaddy's avatar

You’re asking everyone to play by your rules.

They have their own rules and they are just as valid. To them, more so. Give them their space and it will be easier to find your own as well. If you hold on too tight, everything is a struggle, if you hang a little looser it gives you a little distance and a better perspective.

I don’t say this because I’m so great at doing it, only because I have to constantly remind myself and it works for me

whitenoise's avatar

Sometimes it is unavoidable to be touched by a remark or question. After all… we have things we care for and we want to keep them and probably want to keep being touched by certain statements.

The moment we stop caring about certain things is the moment we start to lose ourselves a little. So I don’t see an easy way out… We are doomed to get hurt every now and then.

The thing on fluther is, though, that we should also realize people don’t truly know us… they are from lots of different walks of life as well. Some are in their seventies some are barely fifteen. Some have seen ‘life’ some have seen ‘The Lord’, some have seen their daddy’s sports car.

Don’t change, but also don’t make the mistake of attaching too much of your self awareness and esteem onto fluther and its flutherites.

i don’t truly understand what hurt you on fluther, but i am sorry for that. If it was me… accept my apologies and understand I had no intent to hurt you.

flutherother's avatar

You want to feel and yet you don’t want to feel.

Judi's avatar

I think, rather than growing a thick skin it’s a matter of choosing who you will be vulnerable to. If someone says something hurtful you have to decide if this person is worth sacrificing your joy for. If they are then the emotion you invest is worth it. If not, remember that. This person has an opinion that you don’t agree with and you choose not to invest your joy in them.
The other option is to try and see them for the flawed human that they are with their own set of hurts.
I used to have a friend that I never would have chosen. Our husbands were best friends. She was mean and rude and said hurtful things all the time.
After getting to know her I began to feel sorry for her. Nearly all her life choices were based on fear. I began to see her like a wounded cat trapped in a corner. Every time someone would get close to help her she would lash out not realizing that if she would just calm down long enough someone was there to remove the cause of her pain.
In the end, most of the things she feared came to pass and she is now a bitter old woman. It’s really sad. and she was exceptionally rude to me.

thorninmud's avatar

I’m all for sensitivity. I completely agree that armoring oneself against feelings is a bad strategy, and I don’t think that’s necessary here. The key is tolerance, which is something quite different from desensitization.

Part of embracing feeling is recognizing that we can’t subscribe to just the positive spectrum of feeling and claim immunity from the negative. Tolerance is the art of allowing the negative feelings their place in our emotional landscape, letting them be. This is mostly a matter of getting past seeing them as a threat.

When something is a threat to you, you can’t share a space with it: “It’s me or it.” You feel compelled to either eliminate the threat or get away from it. That’s the self-protective instinct kicking in. But not all, or even most, unpleasant feelings are actually threats. You learn this just by allowing them to be, sharing a space with them for awhile. It’s very easy to open oneself up to positive feeling, and very difficult to open up to the unpleasant. Learning to do this is an extremely valuable life skill.

I go on lots of meditation retreats where we sit still for long periods in rather uncomfortable positions. When I first started doing this decades ago, I experienced the physical pain that goes along with this as a threat; not that I thought it would actually cause me physical harm, but it just seemed that there was no way that I could just let that pain be. It seemed incompatible with my peace of mind. It triggered all of my self-protective instincts. It was an enemy.

These days all of that discomfort is still there, maybe even a little more so, now that I’m older. But I no longer experience it as a threat. All of that time I’ve spent just letting it be and learning to relax about it, not struggling against it, not wishing it away, has taught me that the discomfort needn’t be incompatible with my peace of mind. That’s not desensitization—I still feel the discomfort just as vividly—but it is tolerance.

ibstubro's avatar

“I believe I should be free to participate in any thread I wish without the fear of ridicule.”

There is a thin line between humor, dissent and ridicule. If you’re confident in your own opinions and beliefs, who really gives a rat’s rump? Human’s love nothing more than the High and Mighty, because they know that making them the Low and the Weak is going to be a hell of a ride.

For gourd’s sake, it’s the internet. Cyberspace. If it offends thee, turn it off!

Seek's avatar

The Internet is a wonderful thing.

In our “real lives” we do not have the opportunity to choose who we are placed with. Our developmental years are not the result of any choice we were able to opt out of, or influence in any meaningful way. And in truth, where we are today is mostly the result of random accident and happenstance, though as adults we have – at least theoretically – some power to influence our surroundings.

Still, many of us are in a place in our “real lives” where we cannot be ourselves. We must censor ourselves for our own good – either for our safety, or so as not to cause undue harm or upset to the people we actually have to live with.

The internet, and the sites we choose to use, are one way for many of us to have the conversations we feel we are lacking in our daily lives. It’s one way for us to remain both safe and have the intellectual stimulation we crave.

We all choose the sites we frequent for good reasons. If one simply wants to indulge their personal fetishes, there are sites where one can find and share such material completely anonymously. If one wants to find people of like interests, they can do so. And if one wants to converse with people of opposing thoughts, in preparation for real life discussions or in place of them, they can find sites where this is acceptable.

I have, personally, always enjoyed the Q&A format for its apparent compromise between the strictly structured folder-style discussion forum and lasseiz-faire chatroom style. Folder-style fora tend to be fairly inactive, since it’s so compartmentalized that usually only people who are already interested in one viewpoint will click on that viewpoint’s folder, unless they are openly trolling. Chatrooms can be a great opportunity for heated discussion, but do not allow time for research and making thorough, thoughtful, cited posts. Here, on Fluther and other Q&A sites, we have both structure and action.

Like any place you go on the internet, there will always be things you like, and things you don’t like. My personal beef with Fluther is the fact that sometimes the moderation is so strictly enforced that if one comes to a thread late, much of the discussion has been removed and what is left is as a result unintelligible. This deters me from wanting to participate in that discussion at all, as I’m not aware of what has already been said. This is, however, a fairly minor complaint, as I find the format, the company, and the user-friendliness preferable to other sites.

I appreciate the job the moderators do, keeping spam and unacceptable material off the site. It is a thankless job in many cases, as no one likes their stuff removed. I also appreciate that this site is not owned by its users, and that we as users must agree to the terms as set by the owners, and as enforced by the moderators.

However, this site would not exist without the users. For obvious reasons.

So the obvious option is to attempt to strike a reasonable compromise between a fundamental interpretation of the Guidelines and complete lack of moderation.

In my opinion, and I know what that’s worth, we’ve moved a little far into fundamentalism, and not consistently so. For the last six months, the religion discussion has been a point of contention on this site, and as a result, a brand new interpretation of the Guidelines has been applied to religious questions. Which, you know, is fine. I’m not in charge. But it does affect the way I feel about this site.

This was the site I chose to come to in order to discuss what I cannot discuss in my meatspace life, because doing so would a) get on the nerves of people who I actually have to live with or b) expose me to people who I have chosen to avoid for my own personal safety.

If you (the general you) feel this site is just another time-waster on the Internet, a place to have fun and no different than virtual bubblewrap bravo! Feel free to partake in all the light-hearted game threads and avoid the discussions on topics that upset you.

But some of us, active users, should not be forced to leave the site we’ve come to rely on, solely because other people don’t like some of the questions. Scroll past what you do not like or do not feel comfortable reading. That is why we have clickable links instead of one long forum.

Of course, I’m not in charge. So maybe the proselytization thing will stand, and from now on all the discussions I enjoyed the most will continue to be censored. In that case, you can have Fluther, and may you enjoy TJBM #s 57 – 1000.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Fluther is an online community. Pretty much 100% digital, we rarely (if ever) actually meet each other in person. With the exception of that voice-recording thread a while back, I’ve never heard anyone actually speak to me. It’s text-only, and I feel that a lot of normal “community”-type stuff can’t really happen in text.

To be specific, I feel that it is harder to express “positive character traits.” Everything online is about threads, questions, debates, arguments, and dispute. Tons of opportunities to argue with/against people about any topic.

There aren’t very many opportunities to be nice. We can’t physically hold the door open for other people, or give them a cupcake because it’s somebody’s birthday. These sort of things make people feel better, and allow people to move on from previous disagreements.


I feel that there is and has always been a main, overarching theme for all of this:

— What is Fluther supposed to be?
— Where are we on the scale of utilitarian Q&A site to social networking, and what does that mean?

For example, we have people who are closer to the social networking end of the spectrum, who feel that users should be allowed to discuss whatever topic they wish, at any length. They view intelligent discussion as the main goal.

On the other hand, there are people with the more utilitarian point of view. They feel that the redundancy of certain questions, as well as the lack of successful arguments (where success = a change in viewpoint), causes those questions to be pointless.

As of right now, Fluther is not at either end of the spectrum. We aren’t like StackOverflow, where everything must have a certain topic, but we also aren’t a free-for-all blogging site. We are somewhere in the middle, but people are having a hard time figuring out where.

ETpro's avatar

What everyone else said, with the addition that if my questions or answers hurt you, I apologize. It’s often my intention to disagree with what someone here says, but not my intention to attack them personally. I see one’s beliefs and ones person as separate. It would be an impossibly complicated world if, in order to avoid attacking any person, we had to agree with all their belies. How might we even do that, since people hold conflicting beliefs?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@funkdaddy: I am asking everyone to be respectful to everyone. I really am also asking for a way to interact in this virtual reality of Fluther that is open and enlightening and not have to censor where I choose to participate. I really am searching.

@whitenoise: You used the word “attach.” That was something one of the people I spoke to mentioned too. This person used what I think you’re driving at and called it detachment. They mentioned I should be open and simultaneously not be so fraught with the reactions I read in responses. That is perhaps what I’m striving for. I am searching for the line that separates openness and painful vulnerability.

@flutherother: Yes, that is my dilemma. What are your thoughts?

@Judi: I believe what you are asking me to do is change perspective. I think I see that you advise stepping back from the words on the screen and looking at the writer and their situation. That may be a place to start from. I would like to think I am capable of that at times. There are other times recently in a question about homophobia that because I am gay, I was told I needed to simply sit down and accept heinous bigotry. Those words are not possible for me to look past to see the hurting human behind them. Those words cause me enormous pain. How does one speak truth and reject personal attacks?

@thorninmud: I value what you wrote here. It is something to strive for. I would truly like to be in a place where I could feel the unpleasantness and simply tolerate it.

@ibstubro: Turning off the Internet because it offends me is the self-censorship I am trying to avoid.

@Seek_Kolinahr: Your post causes me to pause. I fully recognize that I censor me throughout the day for safety and to avoid causing harm. What I’m asking in this question is to understand the difference between normal everyday self-editing and purposely turning off entire sections of Fluther (bigotry and religious questions) because other people behave with willful disregard for the well-being of others. In the end, you wrote, “Scroll past what you do not like or do not feel comfortable reading. That is why we have clickable links instead of one long forum.” I am trying to grow past that type of self-censorship. Scrolling past questions about bigotry and others that are little more than bait for religious believers to bite on so the OP can belittle them and feel superior is a form of silence I recognize extremely well. It is the silence born as a result of having been bullied. It allows the bullies to have their stick to bludgeon others with instead of saying no, bullying is not allowed.

@PhiNotPi: I am one of those people having a hard time figuring out how to participate on Fluther and enjoy it. I like the purely information gathering and problem solving questions here just as much as those designed to gather social interaction. I believe there are ways to “be nice” even online. It means discussing respectfully.

@ETpro: I don’t think I’m asking for agreement. I am asking for respect.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake ” I believe there are ways to “be nice” even online. It means discussing respectfully.” I agree with you, but it’s kinda like the problem with driving vs walking only compounded a million times since this is the internet.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@uberbatman: I like “The Oatmeal” very much. There are some very funny things on that site.

The comic strip you linked is interesting. When we put barriers between us humans, it implies we become raging maniacs. Removing those barriers leads to some kind of bliss. It’s done for silliness. It made me giggle and smile.

The Internet is still new, and we humans are still trying to feel our way into how best to use it and interact on it. Perhaps at its base, that’s what this question is about. How do we remain true to us individually while still maintaining healthy respect for the other?

To use another analogy, it’s like teaching table manners to a child. The goal is to get the necessary nutriments into our bodies in a sufficiently pleasing way for all to enjoy.

This is a question about interpersonal relationships. We are social animals. None of us exist in isolation. Even the lone mountain man in the Alaskan wilderness had parents and was acculturated by a society great or small.

My personal stake in this question is that I’m trying to learn to live truthfully and openly and not allow others to denigrate that truth and openness. This question is bigger than me, though. I launched it onto the Fultherverse knowing it would be interpreted myriad ways.

Seek's avatar

Well, as I said – if it is not the participants in the discussion, but outside viewers that get to determine whether someone is a “bully”, or proselytizing, that is simply censorship.

Silencing other people because you do not like the topic of discussion is neither self-censorship nor self-protection.

And again, if that’s what the powers that be choose to do, that’s fine. There has to be at least one more website out there that has both intelligent people and an open discussion forum. I don’t want to leave, but I’m not going to dance around whatever the latest gag order is. Because you know it won’t end with religion. Next there will be no global warming discussion, then no gun control discussion. And eventually, even our more fundamental bigots won’t be able to refer to women as blue whales and ask them whether they pass the pencil test.

ETpro's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake If I have been disrespectful to you, please show me where. I like you, respect you, and never meant to be disrespectful to you. If I was disrespectful without being aware of it, I’d like to review that interaction so I can avoid repeating the error.

@Seek_Kolinahr If we are going to try to confine Fluther to discussions that never ruffle any feathers, there won’t be any questions or answers that pass that muster. I’m remaining in threads I’m in here for now, but I’m off to Quora. There are things I care deeply about. I’m not interested in discussing fluff.

augustlan's avatar

Just popping in to clarify that religion discussions in general are not being handled in a new way. As I’ve said many times, all genuine questions may be asked as usual.

PhiNotPi's avatar


Have no fear, common-folk of Fluther!
‘Tis not the birth of your Big Brother!
You may ask then, what is the matter
With such cessation of religious chatter?

And I shall say that such is naught,
As the mods themselves have no such plot.
Rather, all the users of Fluther ought
To simply allow some time for thought.

You might be surprised if you were to see
The thoughts thunk up through the hierarchy.
You may wonder what those thoughts might be,
But soon, however, we shall speak with clarity.

Now, I must surely have aroused confusion,
As to what might be the mods’ conclusion.
Will it result in an intellectual diffusion?
Or unnecessarily create an obtuse intrusion?

Well, I’ll tell you all to not be jaded,
As free speech rights shan’t be degraded!
Neither shall the guidelines be faded!
Instead, fine lines thickened and boundaries shaded!

We know we’ve sometimes been unclear,
Sometimes changing, just trust that we’re sincere!
We shall determine why Fluther’s here!
To all I say: Have no fear! Have no fear!


janbb's avatar

@PhiNotPi You are the Shakespeare of moderators! All hail!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: I have asked a question here and supplied details about a matter that is unrelated to censorship by moderators.

@ETpro: It is not my responsibility to somehow keep score of when and where you might or might not have been disrespectful.

@augustlan: Thank you for the clarification. I believe it would be more appropriate to redirect the discussion to the OP above, which is unrelated to other recent events here on Fluther. This is not a question about moderation.

@PhiNotPi: That is very clever and would have been better posted in a question recently asked about the guidelines and moderation.

@janbb: I shudder at the thought.

hearkat's avatar

I read a couple books by Deepak Chopra years ago, and one thing that stuck with me was his suggestion to strive for “non-attachment” as opposed to “detachment”. Detaching sounds cold and hard-hearted, but being non-attached suggests having a sense of personal integrity despite whatever nonsense is happening all around you. I use a metaphor of water treatment; you are on a hike in the woods and very thirsty, you see something on the water in the river and you sense that it is toxic. But that is not a problem, because in your backpack is a water filtration system to remove toxins from the water.

We need psychological toxin filters to allow us to navigate through society without being harmed and perhaps even finding something useful and valuable once the damaging components are removed. From a young age, I have been around people who ridiculed me and belittled me in order to make themselves feel superior. It took decades before I was able to recognized that, similar to Judi’s reference to a frightened cat in a corner, the most arrogant, self-righteous people are usually the most insecure, and they use their bullying and ridicule to inflate their own egos and to imagine that they are ‘right’ when others around them react emotionally and get flustered.

That brings me back to developing a sense of integrity and conducting oneself with dignity. If the bully doesn’t get the reaction, they are deflated. As long as you stay true to yourself, and defend your right to be a citizen of Fluther and anywhere else in the world or world-wide-web with dignity and class, you will win. It is appropriate that we are having this discussion on Martin Luther King Day… his legacy is one that reaches beyond the racial divide and demonstrates how we should conduct ourselves in a civilized society, even when others behavior is uncivil. Lead by example. Be the change you want to see in the world, and on Fluther.

Judi's avatar

I wish I could find the post where @tinyfairy lashed at me a few years ago because of an ignorant comment I made on the same subject. I really hurt her and it was obvious. Her willingness to share her pain, although she lashed out and cussed me out was one major step in MY evolution away from being a fundamentalist bigot.
I hurt her and I am deeply remorseful for that but on the other hand I’m so very thankful that she showed me how painful my ignorant words were. She got her point across and I got it. I WAS shamed and it changed me. To use a biblical term she caused me to repent.
I guess what I’m saying is that some people (like me) are just ignorant. Their intent is not to be hurtful and they ARE capable of change.
Other people are just ass holes and not worth the stress.

DaphneT's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake, on Fluther, personally I have chosen to self-censor as a form of self-protection. I have been struggling for months to come up with the right word for what has been going on with some of these Fluther questions. Thank you for supplying one of those words, ridicule. I have been so tired that thinking in greater than 2 syllable words has become a disease.

That said, I’ve skimmed some of the answers to your question, and the subsequent conversations. This one sticks out ”... It is not my responsibility to somehow keep score of when and where you might or might not have been disrespectful.” I disagree with you, as you posted the question because you are troubled by the content, yes it is your responsibility to keep track of who and when and where you have been treated disrespectfully. If you believe something is disrespectful you need to be able to give concrete examples of what so that you have something specific to analyze with the person involved. It is neither fair nor kind to leave everyone wondering if they were the person who offended when it was truly someone very specific. Such a posture attacks and blindsides everyone, thereby requiring that they have thick skins, while you’re declaring that you don’t need to grow one. Since you want to be accepted for who you are, you have to provide a fact-based avenue for others to be accepted for who they are. I’m not suggesting starting a new thread, just call the person on it in the thread it occurs or use a pm. If it is with a truly chronic difficult person, just flag their comment as unhelpful, leave it to the mods and seek other posts to participate or start a new post with a new spin on the topic.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@hearkat: I like hearing the word integrity. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m intrigued by the idea of non-attachment. I’m going to have to let that one ruminate for a while.

@Judi: That’s very powerful. Change can happen.

@DaphneT: I’m sorry to hear you’ve been very tired recently. I may not have been clear in the OP. If so, I will try to help here. I am grateful for the format on this site, because it allows for a back and forth, and ideas can emerge with better clarity. You may not have seen what I wrote in response to @uberbatman. I wrote, “My personal stake in this question is that I’m trying to learn to live truthfully and openly and not allow others to denigrate that truth and openness.” This question for me is about personal growth. I am not here to accuse particular users of Fluther of inappropriate behavior. Naming individual jellies in such a negative light would not be allowed by the moderators. It would rightly be removed as a personal attack. If anyone is curious to know my personal feelings about a particular question or post in a thread, I have probably given them my answer in that thread. I’m also available to answer respectful private messages through Fluther. I respond to PMs a lot. In my 4 years here, I’ve received many PMs, and only 2 were disrespectful. This thread is not the appropriate place to have a discussion about events from another thread. This thread stands on its own. It is about a difficulty I have been having for some months. This is not new. I wrote in the OP: “I am honestly looking for a mature way to participate on Fluther and remain true to me at the same time.” Again, this question for me is about personal growth. I did not ask this question to settle a score with any other user. I don’t settle scores, because I don’t keep tabs. I hope that helps.

Rarebear's avatar

I haven’t read through all the responses, but you shouldn’t feel safe on Fluther, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Youtube, or anywhere online. Everything you write is a public record of you and accessible by anybody, any time, anywhere. Be very careful about what you write. If it’s not something you wouldn’t say on an elevator with cameras running, then you shouldn’t write it online, even in a so-called “anonymous” forum.

flutherother's avatar

You are in control of your actions and your words and you can choose to treat others with respect and politeness. They way people react on the other hand can’t always be predicted and you are not in control of it. It doesn’t make sense to beat yourself up over something you have no control over. If you consider carefully before acting then you can feel confident you don’t deserve criticism and you don’t deserve to be hurt. That’s not to say you won’t be hurt just that you know in advance you won’t deserve it.

Being hurt is part of life but if you have confidence in your own integrity you will be less damaged by criticism or hostility and you will begin to trust the integrity of others more. You can be surprised by the way people react when they don’t react objectively to you but to personal unresolved issues of their own you have inadvertently triggered. If we understood others better we would be hurt less and we would cause less hurt but we are each of us a mystery often even to ourselves.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I don’t mean to derail the thread but I fear my comment might just a little. Bear with me.
The Oatmeal cartoon Driving vs walking presented by @uberbatman a few quips above reminded me of walking in a grocery store vs walking at a Gun Show.
Grocery store shoppers tend to be a bit brusque, in my opinion. They are ‘on a mission’ as they travel up and down the aisles. The attendees at Gun Shows (usually 98% male) are extremely polite to each other, almost to a fault, no matter how crowded the place gets. Imagine the most proper British behavior “After you my good man!”. Weapons are checked by security when you enter the facility so anyone can see that about half the attendees are carrying concealed. It is a pleasure walking around and talking with total strangers. “Oops excuse me for bumping into you.” “No trouble at all.” “Would you like me to move so you can see that item more clearly?”
The difference is particularly startling when you see the reaction to a disabled person in a wheel chair or riding a Rascal. At the grocery store they are treated as obstacles to maneuver around. At the Gun show the patrons offer to help “Would you like me to hand that item to you?” “Can you see that ok?” ” Need help holding that?”
I brought a guest from Japan with me to a show so he could see the culture difference. He said he felt so safe and relaxed. He loved it.
Ok, carry on….

livelaughlove21's avatar

When I first joined Fluther, I was very sensitive to the hurtful things jellies would say. Because I was a “newbie,” or perhaps for other reasons, I felt as if I was being either brushed off or ridiculed for pretty much every answer or question I posted. I became pretty bitter, thinking every single member of this site was condescending and narcissistic, and got pleasure out of making other people feel stupid. This is one of the few times in my life that I did feel stupid, so those people were getting exactly what they wanted. In my time here, I’ve contemplated either leaving or steering clear of certain topics where I felt I was being targeted.

I now avoid no question and [pretty much] no jelly. Those that I do avoid, I do so for reasons other than “they were mean to me.” I got over being sensitive by taking one of the pieces of advice you rejected – growing thicker skin. I realized that it’s a lot easier to be an asshole online than to someone’s face, and I believe half of what is said here would never be uttered if we were face to face with each other. I’m actually glad I got over it because, now, I am better able to brush off comments made on here instead of doing what I did before – sit and read and re-read it, over-analyze it, stew over it, be nervous about it, wonder what that person will think if I do or do not respond in this way or that. In short, I stopped giving a shit what the assholes have to say. And if I have the time and desire, I can be just as big of an asshole right back to them. I sit behind my iPhone and giggle at those that insist I’m getting “worked up” about something or that I need to “calm down” (people love to make themselves feel superior by making it seem like you’re the one that is getting upset while they don’t really care all that much), when, in reality, it’s just a game to me. This is the Internet – why take it so seriously? Honestly, why the hell should you care what any of us think of you? What matters is what you think of you.

I have to agree with @funkdaddy that you want all of us to play by your rules, and that’s not how the world works. You want everyone to change and you’re not willing to do anything different. Sorry, but that’s just not going to happen. I recall you and I getting into an argument over something awhile back and it ended with you basically calling me homophobic hate monger because I didn’t want that moron from Duck Dynasty stoned to death for saying he didn’t think homosexuality was “right.” You have to realize that you’re guilty of some of the things you’re accusing others of doing. Being “sensitive” isn’t a good excuse for getting so offended, where there’s no offense to be taken, that you lash out at people that mean you no harm. How can others respect you if you don’t respect them? If you deserve respect for being a human, don’t I? Doesn’t everyone else? I did not bring this up to start up the argument again, because I won’t participate, but I thought it should be mentioned.

I sort of hate this phrase, but it is what it is. You either have to stop caring or change your behavior, self-censorship or not, because no one here is going to change because you asked them to. No one on Fluther is very good about walking on eggshells to avoid hurting the feelings of other people. What other people say and do are completely out of your control, especially on the Internet. Fluther is a place where thick skin is sort of a must. It’s not for everyone, but once you stop taking everything so seriously (and personally), it’s not too bad of a place.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Rarebear: I understand the lack on anonymity on the Internet. I am not safe. Thank you for reminding me.

@flutherother: I am very glad you came back to this thread to expand on your ideas. Your words echo exactly some things I am hearing from others in my life whom I respect a great deal. Thank you.

@LuckyGuy: That is a very interesting story. We humans have ways of going about our lives with very different attitudes in very different situations. I understand the analogy. Thank you.

@livelaughlove21: Thank you very much for taking the time to write. You may very well be right in everything you say.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@all: I want to say thank you to all the jellies who took time to read my OP and the long thread it engendered. This has been a very valuable experience for me. I am happy with the results. I got my answer.

I stated in the OP and in the thread this is a question about personal growth for me. I am searching for a way to remain open and teachable and vulnerable and not take the responses I receive personally. I am trying to be an adult and to be accessible at the same time.

I have learned from events in my everyday life and from recent events on Fluther that it takes more strength of character and integrity to remain open and teachable and vulnerable than it does to be thick-skinned and hard-hearted. Part of being open means that I am willing to face criticism and even hate and say that the response might be right. I might be wrong. Part of learning how to not take harsh words personally means that I must step back from my part in the event and look at where the other is coming from. I must attempt to understand the other’s life story and where they might possibly be coming from to say what appears to be harsh.

In the end, I am open, teachable, and vulnerable, and I’m happy about that. I have grown.

Thank you.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake You sure do make me smile. If you are ever in the area I’d be honored to take you to a gun show. I’d love to hear your opinions and get your perspective.

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