This is a little comic I scribbled on an envelope last summer, but I was too busy with volume 4 of Bonnie Jo Campbell Comics and the pandemic and a bunch of other life changes to clean it up and post it. I’ve thought about it a lot, though, and have, in fact, gotten much better about arguing with strangers online. For the most part, I can walk away from a clearly pointless discussion with an obvious troll or someone who lacks the intellectual capacity to understand the subject at hand or isn’t going to change their mind despite an abundance of evidence disproving their belief. It’s made my life better.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get caught up in those stupid arguments from time to time, especially on Reddit, which isn’t so bad because it’s obviously all strangers, but sometimes on Facebook, which really isn’t great, because there’s a good chance that I’m fighting with someone I know and possibly like, or at least someone that knows the people I know and like.
So it happened again this week: a person I know, with whom I spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME last summer trying to explain systemic racism and Black Lives Matter at their request (not that the amount of time I spent was excessive in light of the subject matter and its importance, but it was too much time to spend trying to explain things to someone who didn’t want to learn, but rather to have his opinion validated), posted some incredibly ignorant and hateful things about rights for transgendered people and I started to get into it. Eventually I remembered this comic and my promise to myself, for my own mental health, to stop getting into these arguments. I walked away. The information he needed is widely available online, for those who care about human rights. There was no point in wasting my time explaining.
Today that same person posted some very horrifying remarks about reproductive rights, and I opted not to get involved.
I comfort myself with constant reminders that conservatives are het up because they don’t want enlightenment. They’ve been taught that progress is the work of the devil and that thinking about equality could actually damn their mortal souls, that progressives are in thrall of Satan and that true education is a tool of evil. It’s weird to think that people have been trying to make this world better for hundreds of years, and a bunch of very powerful and stubborn institutions are out there actively working to stymie any action that could lead to people being happier in this world. Obviously, people don’t need the promise of the next world if things are nicer here.
I also comfort myself with constant reminders that enlightenment is happening anyway, that Black lives do matter, that trans people are valid, and that even if some nutjobs make it harder for women to control their reproductive capacities, the world has come too far. We’re never going back. No matter how many hateful laws get passed, we’re not going back.
But I still need to add: if you have a lot of negative beliefs about, say, Black people or trans people, and you don’t really know any Black people or trans people, you might consider educating yourself before you draw (and post) any conclusions based on your nonexistent knowledge. And you might also consider that if people are willing to do vast amounts of emotional labor on your behalf to help you understand a subject, they might have reasons for their point of view that you have yet to understand.