I dreamt last night that I had died, & God assigned me the task of noting & categorizing the sins of the newly dead by going through something like a highlight (or is it lowlight?) reel of their lives.
I was sitting in front of what seemed like some kind of AVID rig & going through The Tapes. Thankfully, it was not my job to count cruelty to children or sexual assault or anything like that. My particular “beat” was cruel things said.
That’s right; words do hurt.
But what was interesting is I was meant to establish context. The final tallies ended up in Degrees that, no joke, ranged from School Yard Silliness (eg. “YOU’RE a poopiehead”) to The Dozens (eg. “Yo mama so fat…”) to Almost Kind of Hitler. I won’t repeat any of that.
My instructions were quite clear. No one was to be marked down for saying words they didn’t know the meaning to, for repeating what others said with the intent to convey information, or for words that didn’t actually hurt anyone even if maybe another person who had no context heard them & found them offensive. My angelic supervisor was adamant that offense was not the same as pain.
Lies were also considered hurtful words.
And yes, anything that had been confessed was wiped from the tapes, so I wouldn’t even have seen them. I figured out fairly quickly who had ever been to confession & who hadn’t by the amount of gaps in their reel.
I was told that each evaluation then gets combined with other evaluations & a Judgement is rendered from the full report. Some of you would be surprised by who did poorly.
It struck me upon waking that this was a terrible job, & I am certain that God doesn’t do it that way. It also struck me upon waking that there are people alive in the world today on social media & elsewhere who have made this their job. They don’t get paid for it, but they quite literally scour people’s online history to find anything they’ve said that might be deemed hurtful or offensive or even slightly dodgy.
The difference is, they don’t give a damn about context. The Dozens becomes misogynist fat shaming. Teenagers calling each other the fringe words of their culture becomes racism & homophobia. People with self deprecating senses of humour are judged to be racist, body-shaming, or all number of things.
There are some people who really are quite awful online. That’s different. But finding the awful people has spawned something of a crusade to “get” others, with quite ridiculous results.
I always wonder if people are paid to take things out of context. Because in the context of a person’s entire life, what Skeeter McTweeter said on MySpace when he was 13 is not going to be the same thing he says on Twitter at 23. At least, one hopes not.
What someone drunk Tweets with friends at 24 is not the same thing she thinks at 34 with two children.
What someone said repeatedly over the course of a few recent months might be an established pattern of actual belief. If people employed common sense more often, this would be evident.
And yet here we are. I kind of wish knitting were still a thing everyone did. Keeps their hands busy. Less drama. More blankets.
I don’t want to live in a world where we police each other’s thoughts. If you say something I think is gross & we are not friends, I’ll just unfollow you. How’s that? If we’re friends, we’ll talk about it.
But now that everybody’s a gotcha journalist/investigator, it can’t be that simple. It needs to be A Thing. “On October 14, 2008, you bought a pumpkin spice latte & made a shitty comment about white women.”
Well, yes. I am one, & I both lament & revel in my basicness. I AM GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED TO LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE AND BEETS WITH GOAT CHEESE leave me alone.
If you enjoyed this, you will probably dig my books. I don’t know.