Before Friendship

It probably comes as a surprise to none of you reading this that my opinions earn me just as much ire as they do respect. For every feminist that stands at my side or ME sufferer that applauds the awareness I raise, there is another person willing to call me an over-sensitive wuss or accusing me of ignoring the struggles of men. Don’t be mistaken, this blog doesn’t get the traffic necessary for anonymous hate mail and when I do receive that, I can shrug it off as easy as anything. No, far more often, the people waiting to the sidelines to jump in with snide comments and putdowns are friends and family. My usual response is try to talk to them one to one to explain my point of view but if they’re gonna be pig-headed or, heaven forbid, insulting, that’s that and their name is quickly scratched from any Christmas card list I have going. I’ll never back down on my morals, I just can’t, morals define who we are, our codes are unique and we must not let others force us to against them or we lose ourselves. I won’t deny it can be disheartening but I won’t ever compromise on that aspect of myself. That said, here are some common arguments I want to lay to rest:

1. “That’s just your opinion”

I will not cut you out of my life for having a different opinion to me. I will not cut you out of my life for following a different religion or voting differently to me (Unless you support a party such as UKIP or Britain First). I understand my friends will have different opinions to me, I have friends who think minions are adorable, that Transformers are dull and that Dynasty Warriors is a braindead button-mashing experience but I don’t unfriend people over that. Opposing feminism isn’t having a different opinion to me, it’s an entire viewpoint away from mine, a whole different set of rules and values that just aren’t compatible with my own. Using feminism as an example, if you’re anti-feminist, then there a whole host of views that you may or may not fall in line with – victim blaming, slut shaming, the ‘place’ of women in society, friend-zoning, supporting such views is anti-feminism and opposing them? Pro. You might not wear the label but if you believe a woman shouldn’t deserve to be abused because of what she wears, that’s a feminist belief. Opinions are singular, you can look past those, what I am talking about is so much more than “That’s just what I think”, it’s “That’s what I deem to be morally correct”

2. “You’re refusing to hear what you don’t want to”

I think it’s fair to say that in this day and age of technology and viral videos and such, burying your head in the sand and ignoring the world around you is harder and harder to do unless you exclusively use the internet to do your Tesco food shop and watch porn and even then there’s probably going to be some crossover. We have the right to speak, the right to listen and the right to ignore, it’s a big deal with free speech. In all fairness, I’m not so much rejecting the viewpoint, I have to accept that such views exist and I am constantly aware of it, that’s why I do what I do, what I’m rejecting is the association of friendship between people like that and myself. I am AWARE of Donald Trump, that doesn’t mean if we met I’d have to have him added on Facebook to know that he is a racist orange gibbon.

3. “Refusing to talk to people with different views is cowardly and proof you can’t beat them in a debate”

This, I hear a lot, a sort of “If you don’t fight your case, you’ve lost” deal, like I’m on trial every time I put a link to a Laci Green vid in a status. I’ll start by saying that flat out refusing to talk to someone just because they’re right-wing or such isn’t how I start, that’s certainly a buffer I have up against new friends or partners, if a date makes a joke about Poland being full of cut-rate builders ruining the British economy by taking our jobs, I know I won’t need to bother asking her out on a second date. I do try and talk people around and I find, more often than not actually, it is not me that first resorts to personal attacks. Granted, in the past, I’ve had a tendency towards dismissing my opponents as imbeciles but more recently, it is often my critics that come forth with harsh barbs. A wide belief is the first to resort to such, is out of actual intelligent points to argue. I will try and talk someone around but if they’re being unpleasant or mocking me or such, I have no obligation to listen to the rest of what they might say

4. “What about Echo Chambers?”

Echo Chambers, for those who are unaware, are the idea of having a social media account that is loaded with nothing but people who agree with everything you say or do and as such, you become both big-headed and narrow-minded. I mean, if a hundred or so people are telling you on a near daily basis that you are very clever, attractive and morally righteous, surely it stands to reason you might one day believe all that to be fact? Well, aside from my hilariously out-of-hand anxiety having the power to keep any sort of ego of mine in check, not all my friends agree with me on everything I do and we are all capable of critical thinking. Dangerous as it is, I will always peruse the comment sections of news articles and videos, to see different views being expressed beneath. Largely, I’ll admit, it is people making vulgar remarks and such but there are a broad spectrum of opinions represented in these places, some fact-checked, some not, and I will take my time to mine the internet for comments actually worth reading. However, beyond that, on something like Facebook, can you blame people for wanting to be surrounded by people that like them a whole bunch and tell them nice things when we as a society are so readily prepared to pull one another apart? If you want an Echo Chamber, go ahead, you can always self-administer some doses of reality by watching the news or going outside, you don’t need a quota of dickheads on your Friends list to water down your self-confidence.

5. “You won’t win anyone around to your way of thinking by unfriending them”

Err… I’m sorry, when did that become my obligation? When did it become my job to try and win the hearts and minds of every person I meet? No, you see, the BLOG is where it’s my job to defend my viewpoints because that’s all this is, this is literally a website full of me saying shit I think and believe. My Facebook is just my day-to-day thought journal and means of contacting friends and sharing dumb photos I like because penguins are in it or it contains a pun or something. In my daily life, I have every right to just tell someone to piss off because Jacob Wolfe needs his space, Old Man Wolfe, on this site, is the guy doing the debating and lengthy arguments and such and if I need to illustrate my point, I can just tell Facebook friend “Go read this thing I wrote THEN talk to me”. I’ll defend my beliefs at any point in life, sure, but a highlight of the digital age is that if someone is an annoying wanker, you can click a button and they no longer exist in your radar, why would that not be a feature I would make use of?

Well, that’s that then, feel free to use these points in your own rebuttals when you have to explain to your parents why you blocked Aunt Carol on Facebook because she won’t stop sharing anti-vaccination posts on her profile. Your media, your choices, you don’t have any obligation to argue with people if you don’t want to and your beliefs are more than just opinions, they make you who you are and if people can’t accept them, they can’t accept you and that’s not on. Tolerance is all well and good but it’s a two-way street so don’t just put up with nonsense for the sake of being a good person, you have to let yourself break away from toxic influences. Just keep up to date on the world affairs and you won’t lose sight of reality behind rose-tinted glass (And hey, fuck reality once in awhile, take an evening a week or something or an hour of the day to just forget David Cameron is in power and go play a game or watch a film). Remember that you are no less for wanting to spend more time in the company of people like you and that it is a clever move to remove people from your life who will only cause you harm or upset. Okay? That’s all.

Really need a sign off phrase…

The Debate About Debates (Originally Published – 7th November 2012)

Well folks, it seems that in the end of it all, Barack Obama managed to hold onto his position for four more years and personally, I’m looking at the fella and thinking ‘You got lucky this time round, now you’ve really got to pull your finger out your ass and fix America or they may well take up lynching again’ However, I suppose Obama worked hard to get re-elected and Romney presented him a real challenge in the early stages of the debate (Not so much of a challenge after the 47% statement and the Republican’s response to Hurricane Sandy) So now America is looking towards Mr Obama and hoping, with what they have left, and in all honesty, I’m really not sure what’s gonna happen at this stage. To be honest, this win for Barack Obama will either mark a new age of hope and happiness, or reconfirm the fact we’re all up shit creek without a paddle.

The democratic systems of the western world have forever been flawed concepts, having been based on flawed predecessors and though perhaps a better alternative to a single dictatorship that some countries have or had, we essentially see the same thing each time round in every country. America falls into a two horse race between Republicans and Democrats then get to choose the shiniest of two turds to make decisions for them for four years. I have no right to judge, being a Brit commenting on the entire thing, but America essentially got to choose between the world’s greatest optimist who lacked substance or a religious tycoon with an ego bigger than the United States themselves, whoop de fucking do. I mean, Barack Obama essentially bleated on about ‘Gimme another chance, I can make a change’ like he was desperately clawing back his ex-girlfriend, the USA, and eventually the USA gave in with rosy red cheeks and open arms, whereas Romney just based everything on being rich and powerful and whilst he probably had the ability to dig the country out of debt, he’s more messed in the head than Charlie Sheen’s nightmares. I don’t even know where to start with the earlier candidates, like motherfucking Vermin Supreme and Sarah Palin… yeah, less said about them, the better… Though running for president on the basis of giving away ponies and dressing like Gandalf survived an explosion in his garden shed is impressively bizarre.

So you’re probably wondering what I am actually ranting about? I can’t really be specific this time round; I’d say politics but that’s too vague and a true rant about politics would take me forever to write. I guess I’m just being my usual cynical self and looking at the world of politics as steadily getting more and more shit. At least America has some interesting characters over there they can vote for, the beloved soul-singing, hoop-shooting cool guy or the unashamedly brass mega man of money and Mormonism. Americans amongst you, let me tell you what Britain has to show for their political leaders.

Firstly, there is current Prime Minister David Cameron, a rich and posh imbecile who reckons he’s a man’s man, but doesn’t even sniff a common sausage roll without travelling across the country to find one to prove he’s just like everyone else, only he has money and we don’t.  Apart from the fact he loosely resembles a featherless penguin’s abortion, David Cameron is a man so monumentally out of touch with the real world, he thinks that £65 a week (In the region of $50) is enough to buy a house, pay the bills, have all the latest technological gadgetry available and have a HDTV with satellite. Excuse me but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. £6500 a week, maybe, but £65? Really? Scarily enough, this fantasy land fucktard runs the nation and thinks he’s made it all better. If he has, anyone living in a house and not a mansion has yet to notice.

Second to David Cameron is his trusted sidekick Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg was supposed to ushering in an age of liberty, freedom and happiness but in the end, Cameron beat him but not by enough to be the sole party in charge and so Clegg joined with him to form a Coalition. The combination of these two is paramount to seeing Lucas and Spielberg work together on a film, the world is gonna suffer through a contorted mess that might have been great once upon a time, but never again. During the debate prior to our last election, Nick Clegg was the only candidate not focused on slagging off his competition and actually sounded promising but I suppose a bright future is too much to ask for this grey country. Nick Clegg is now only known by the reputation he has as David’s lapdog and the most charismatic thing he’s done in ages is become an auto-tuned parody on YouTube, courtesy of disappointed university students (Who are probably bankrupt and in massive debt thanks to his inability to keep a simple promise. You had one job Clegg, ONE JOB)

And the third horse in the race actually resembles a horse, Ed Milliband. You know it’s a shame his teeth can’t just bite through the heads of his opponents or he’d be the Emperor of the Universe. Gordon Brown finally melted, having looked like dripping wax during his time as PM, and they replaced him with one of the Inbetweeners. Ed is the photo perfect image of a nerdy stereotype but with none of the Star Wars trivia and an addiction to repeating his previous sentence at least twelve times in slightly different ways. For a long period of time, this man faced a career in which none of the general public quite remembered his name or knew that he was leader of the Labour party but now, he’s fairly easy to point out to anyone, bar the odd hermit and floating voter. Ed Milliband completes Britain’s terrible triumvirate of gormless faces that will be trying to run the country, each one an expressionless, mindless drone that wasn’t born from their mother’s womb but rather, assembled by suicidal elves.

I worry about the future of modern society all the time but the most worrying thing about the world is the people who run it. To me, the entire planet is controlled by people who know fuck all about the places they live in and the people they represent. I suppose politics is such a complex business you can’t have the people represent themselves, they wouldn’t understand how to do such a thing. By the same token, I don’t promote anarchy because we do need a government, sadly. However, I feel like the higher-ups need a reality check, a reminder that the people of the world are relying on them to serve the greater good. A radical move here would be to do away with the lot of them and start over fresh, including the economy, but that would take forever to do and is most likely impossible. I won’t pretend to know shit about economics, other than; I’m poor but probably better off than a Greek housewife. I hope to God that one day, there is a politician who genuinely stands up for the common man, isn’t in it for money or power, and says ‘Look, this is a fucked up system. Too much money for too little people, how about I even that out and make some changes’ I won’t be that man in my lifetime, haven’t got the ability, and no doubt if ever there was a man who would genuinely make life fair, he’d be shot in the head by a man with more bullets than brain cells. I’m surprised Obama wasn’t shot in 2008 to be honest, thought his dreams of change would be his death warrant. I think it says a lot about this world that we want things to improve but without too much change or by despising those who can make our lives genuinely better.