So, I write stuff.
Sometimes I write stuff because I am expressing my opinion on a subject. Sometimes I write stuff because I’m on a bit of a wind-up, and actually have no strong opinion but just know I am poking people with a stick in order to get a reaction. And the rest is all just a bit of fun, with a hope that you’ll smile.
In most cases, I write stuff with the intention of helping the reader ask questions and not necessarily accept what others have trained them to just believe and accept.
Quite often I write on subjects that are, I guess, ‘polarised’. Religion, politics, and so on, seem to be polarised with neither ‘side’ able to accept a logical argument that they are wrong. When a person can’t seem to ‘win’ such an argument they feel under threat and so react by becoming defensive with aggression. This is why they ban discussions on religion, politics and football in the camp bars used by members of the armed forces.
But back to me.
I’ve been writing for many decades on many subjects, some about which I am quite knowledgeable and passionate, too.
One thing I noticed many years ago was how I would get trolled and bullied with online abuse whenever I wrote on certain subjects. Mainly, but not exclusively, this was when writing about what really went on in the history of offshore radio. Offshore radio fans had their beliefs, their faith, and no matter what the facts might have been, they had a narrative they wanted to believe. When I challenged this they would attack me personally.
In its heyday, this resulted in personal visits to my home in order to threaten me and my family, constant anonymous sweary phone calls, personal abuse via email bombing, and of course, multiple postings on any fora I might be using to publish my thoughts via. One disturbed chap even used to copy and re-work the contents of my blog into a ‘parody’ version. He spent years doing that, such was his hatred.
Over the many years, I watched others being bullied and abused for not toeing the party line. In the end they would usually give up and fall quiet. The bullies having won via their abuse. Good, sensible people were dissuaded from contributing. The abusers had silenced them.
Usually, the abusers would hide behind false names in order to cowardly launch their attacks. This still happens today, but not so much to or about me. Abusing politicians via Twitter seems to be the latest manifestation of this, and after decades it’s now being taken seriously and the abusers are being prosecuted and sent to prison. We had decades of them able to abuse freely and unchallenged.
I’m not writing as a saint (although I am a saint, honest), but I have never personally abused anybody online. Every opinionated piece or rebuttal I have written has been consistently as Christopher England. One person, one set of evolving views. If I disagree with somebody’s views I will always try to explain logically and calmly. Sadly this has not always been reciprocated.
See, when a real person, not an abuser, disagrees with me, they will either disagree and say not a lot, or they will use words to somewhat carefully explain why, in their opinion, I am wrong.
If the words are logical and extremely convincing, then I may shift my position on whatever the subject might be, in order to then completely agree with them. In fact, I have no option but to. I am driven by logic, reason and explanation. If they have challenged my ideas and logically argued with stronger and more convincing reason, I would be failing myself to maintain my original perspective.
Equally, if their words don’t convince me, I will continue with my previously held belief and I may offer a counter argument logically explained, or ultimately ‘agree to disagree’ and offer no further debate.
However, I hope, I would never at any time personally attack or bully or abuse them for having views that are not the same as mine, no matter how wrong or stupid I might think those views might be. Indeed, they would earn my respect and admiration for providing engaging argument and debate. Likewise, I would hope this was reciprocated.
This, I would consider is a display of respect on both parties. It is the fundamental basis of debate and learning. Respect is what seems to be missing, and the lack of it is how the bullies successfully close people down and stifle the expression of alternative points of view.
Humanity has to stop this bullying if we are ever to find and hold common ground, whatever that common ground may be, grow and move forward and help each other learn wtf this life we all have for such a brief time is all about.