The worst part of social media is seeing the venom fly in the aftermath of some big event.
That certainly proved true after Tuesday’s State of the Union address from the president. People on both sides of the political spectrum took to Facebook and Twitter to slam the other.
I’ve tried to convince myself to scroll on past the negativity, but too often I still find myself getting caught up in posts, especially the ones I know are just plain wrong.
What makes it even worse (wait, can something be worse than “the worst part”?) is that people can’t have a civil debate about any topic. As soon as someone disagrees in the slightest, the other party retaliates and escalates the argument — often leaving the original discussion behind as it turns completely personal.
Then once someone has insulted a person’s very character, then next phrase this someone will use is my pet peeve: “butt hurt.” Pet peeve might not be a strong enough expression.
Not only can we not have a civil debate, but the ones who can’t stay on topic will result to grade-school name calling. Then if you complain about this complete lack of etiquette (and intelligence), then the people will respond, “Don’t get all butt hurt.”
This is a rather bizarre expression to become mainstream since its origins would seem to imply prison shower rape. And it can only serve to bring about one of two outcomes: either the opponent becomes enraged and fires back with some equally off-topic personal attack, or the party is so insulted that he or she abandons the conversation. This is nothing but plain old bullying. The kind of crap that kids hated in school, and yet here they are committing the sin themselves as adults.
We have schools preaching a no-bullying policy at school, but if the parents are giving regular examples of it at home, good luck convincing the kids to give it up.
One of the best pieces of advice that someone has given me was simple, but true: this too shall pass. Cursed in adolescence with a quick temper, the phrase “them’s fighting words” was all too common. A coworker a quarter-century my elder used the advice to show that whatever had me bent out of shape would either seem less fight-worthy later, or might go away on its own.
That has certainly held true with annoying fads. Whether it’s the man bun, men wearing skinny jeans, fauxhawks, Snuggies, laser pointers, Baby on Board, saggy pants (what — some people still do that??), rest assured that eventually people will move on to other things. Just ask the flea market vendors with boxloads of fidget spinners.
And yet, the phrase butt hurt persists. I first heard it two years ago when Donald Trump was campaigning for the Republican nomination. He was brash and insulting, and if anyone complained about his bullying tactics, then his supporters attacked them — sometimes literally.
Have we forgotten when he said he would pay the legal fees of a supporter who sucker-punched a protester at a rally? This was March 2016, just a month after he told a crowd, “So if you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay?”
When his supporters punched and kicked a Black Lives Matter supporter, he said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
If anyone complained about his campaign strategy, then people turned angry and made the attack personal with phrases like butt hurt.
Soon the Democrats would appropriate the term to throw back at Republicans, such as when Roy Cooper beat out incumbent Pat McCrory for governor despite 70-percent support for many other GOP candidates.
In the words of Pearl Jam, “If you hate something, don’t you do it, too.”
So why has this phrase persisted when other expressions have faded?
Perhaps it is because, as Yoda would say, it brings balance to the Force.
A funny, but way too accurate meme a year ago said, “2016: The year everyone was offended by everything.” If you have an opinion on any topic, someone is going to be upset with you.
A few months back, I wrote a column that drew some angry responses — not an uncommon thing in my business. But the shocker was how people turned on a woman who defended my column. Ironically, a couple of women who said they were anti-bullying jumped all over this poor lady and even demanded she be fired from her job for supporting me.
Fired from her job for having an opinion you don’t like? Are you kidding me?
So it’s like a seesaw. On one end of the board are the folks who are offended by everything. The other end has the folks spouting “butt hurt.”
It’s like Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Deep Purple forming as a loud, raw response to the soft Flower Power music of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
Maybe at some point, both extremes can pull back toward the middle a bit more.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.