Saturday, October 10, 2015

How reading an offensive facebook posts made me a better person

We all do it. You read some asshole high school classmate’s facebook post, get angry about what a racist/classist/political crazy/general nutball this person is, you type several responses that aren’t suitable for public consumption and then decide to just keep scrolling. This is sort of my life. It’s all just one big hate scroll really.

A few weeks ago a facebook friend posted about a negative customer service experience they had at a chipotle-style restaurant. They also posted their response to the situation and my first thought was, “well we all have our classist moments…I’m not sure I’d want to put mine on blast like that.” As I kept thinking about it over the next few days (yes, I think about other people facebook posts for days…I’m sure it’s perfectly healthy). I found myself irritated that this person had no idea that their behavior was not only not brag worthy but also something that illustrates a lack of understanding of their own class privilege.

I suppose I should back up, just so we’re all clear on terms. For the class I teach I define most of the “-isms” (racism, sexism, etc) as “power + predjudice.” So now we all know what I’m talking about.

Anyhow, where were we? Oh, I’ve decided that my facebook friend is kind of a classist jerk. Right. Now fast forward to the following weekend. I find myself in Costco in a bit of a rush needing my flat tire fixed (aren’t we always in a rush when this happens?) and of course the tire shop cashier is…so…slow. By the time I’m at the counter I find myself a little annoyed and probably grouchier than I need to be. And I was totally curt with this guy. I actually felt bad and promptly apologized. It seemed that he’s pretty used to jerks like me because he hadn’t seemed to notice that I was being a jerk. As I sat in the food court eating my pizza I realized…I’m the facebook asshole! Not necessarily the person who broadcasts my classist shit on facebook (although I’ve probably been guilty of this at various points as well) but rather the person who allows myself to treat other people poorly in public because I’ve trained myself to believe that people in the service industry owe me something. Rather than considering that their job might be hard, or busy, or a little shitty sometimes... I expect to never be inconvenienced because I’m smart, educated (those are different, btw) and can afford to pay for certain things at a retail store. This somehow makes me important right? Well, sort of. Just in so far as we are all important, really.

Now I don’t think I’m more important than people who work retail (based on facebook I think the friend might actually think he is more important or smarter than the people they interact with at the grocery store) but there is something going on there right? What if the tire shop worker had been someone I perceived as more powerful than me? Say, a judge or something? Would I behaved the same way? Probably not. For the last few days I’ve been asking myself what that’s about and I’ve been making an effort to behave differently.

So now we arrive at the moral of my story which is… facebook hate scrolling actually improved my life and made me a better person. Post on assholes of the world, maybe we’ll all be a little better for it.  Also, by the way, my tire is totally fucked. I have to buy a new rim. I’m pretty sure it’s classist karma.