You may think you’re a mere mortal, bound to earthly paradigms and limitations, but guess what? You, my friend, have a superpower! Many people don’t seem to know they possess this special ability, and there are even some who are aware, but choose not to use it. I’ll give you an example of the responsible use of this special gift.
Let’s say you’re huge fan of creature features – you know, those movies with a supernatural being, such as a werewolf, or a giant spider, who is intent on destroying mankind, or at least satisfying its hunger with a juicy, relatively hairless chunk of human flesh. Let’s say you love these movies so much, you still own a stack of monster magazines from your youth, have a poster of Frankenstein’s monster on your wall, and a model of the xenomorph, from the movie, “Alien” displayed proudly on your dresser.
You meet a friend for lunch, and as you enter the café, you both notice a poster on the community bulletin board advertising a screening of “The Blob”, a horror flick from 1958, starring, none other than, the “King of Cool”, Steve McQueen. It’ll be showing at 8 p.m., this Saturday, at the local art theater. You feel a little jolt of dopamine, as you unintentionally smile, thinking to yourself, “I know EXACTLY what I’m going to be doing at 8 p.m. this Saturday!”
As quickly as the feeling surfaces, your friend says, “What kind of an idiot would waste their time going to see a black and white movie from 1958? Those movies are ridiculous, and the special effects suck! How stupid do you have to be to sit through two hours of garbage like “The Blob”?”
Of course, you’re offended. You are precisely the type of idiot who would waste two hours watching a black and white classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood. You know, as well as you know water is wet, films like this gave birth to modern movie-making techniques, and launched the careers of actors, who eventually became legends. These celluloid treasures are a glimpse back in time, where one can experience what life was like in a past decade, if only for a couple of hours.
You KNOW you are right! You also know, your friend sees things differently. His favorite movies are, “Avengers: Endgame” and “Anchorman”. You enjoyed those movies as well, but it’s a different kind of enjoyment – the classics offer an experience that’s a bit deeper, and to enjoy them, you need to be better informed.
It is this exact moment you have a decision to make. You can make a snarky comment about your friend’s ignorance regarding movies, which will probably lead to more snarky comments, and maybe even a silly argument; or you can choose to use your superpower. Your superpower is to simply be the bigger person, ignore the comment, and move on to a different topic.
This not only applies to movies, but nearly every bit of subject matter in which you choose to engage.
Living in Thailand, I often choose to ignore comments made by those who are disgruntled, or who enjoy voicing their opinions about the country in which they currently live, or from which they hail. Often times, they even spew their opinions about my home, or my country’s leadership, with little or no actual knowledge.
I make it a rule to avoid Thai politics, not only because I’m a guest in this country, but also because, unlike living in the U.S., if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person, you may end up in a Thai prison!
One of the main things I love about the United States of America, is it doesn’t matter if you’re a military lifer, a career bartender, a teacher, or someone who’s spent most of his or her life living off the government’s teat; you have the right to voice your opinion. There may be consequences in doing so, but you certainly can voice how you feel.
Right now, almost everybody has strong opinions, about nearly every topic. It doesn’t matter if it’s politics, or whether you should add a splash of milk to your scrambled eggs. Everyone has an opinion, it seems.
One huge problem we have, is some people want to stifle our right to voice our opinion. Freedom of speech is a right. We are supposed to be able to say whatever we want, no matter how ridiculous it may sound to others. What’s happening now, however, is people are being censored. There’s no such thing as unbiased media these days, and social media platforms are choosing what can be posted, based on their own political bias. I don’t know about you, but the way I grew up, this is wrong! I think people should be able to state their opinions, regardless of where they stand on a topic.
As a receiver of this information, you can make choices. You can read or hear the opinion, and counter it with your own. You can choose open-mindedness, and perhaps allow what you read to influence your own thinking, or – and you knew this was coming – you can choose to use your superpower. You can simply ignore the message, turn off the power, change the channel, put on headphones, leave the room, or simply choose not to engage.
People choose to be angry with each other, merely for having a different opinion. Instead of looking for commonalities, they focus on the differences. I have friends who are at the opposite end from me on the political spectrum. With them, sometimes, I choose to use my superpower. To me, friendships should be able to withstand differences of opinion.
If you try to engage with someone about a topic with which they obviously disagree, just tactfully change the subject. Chances are, you aren’t going to change anyone’s opinion – especially by arguing, but there are probably many topics for which you have a mutual appreciation.
If I were to break it down, I guess I’d say:
It’s supposed to be a free country, let people say or post what they want.
You don’t have to agree with someone about everything to get along.
If you know someone feels differently about a topic, talk about something you have in common.
And finally, if you know something written or spoken is going to offend you, engage your superpower!
In the words of the controversial historical figure, American construction worker, Rodney King … “Can we all get along?”
Stay safe and take care of each other!