Just because something has no value for you doesn’t mean it isn’t important to other people

“Just because something is meaningless to you doesn’t mean it is meaningless to everyone else.” This is my #1 rule for *NOT* being a jackass online or IRL.

This whole “I don’t like X, so X is useless, and nobody needs it” is a pretty serious freshman error when you’re figuring out who you are and what you want out of life. The next biggest error is “I don’t like X, so X is useless, and I can make fun of it, and/or the people who like it.” The first error is simply a little self-centered. The second is mean.

What X actually *is* doesn’t matter. It could be God, or Pokemon, or a crappy, dog-eared S.E. Hinton novel, or the 6th episode of My Mother The Car (That’s the one with Bill Daly guest starring). The point is not that it’s good or bad or indifferent, just that it is very important to someone, generally for some not-insignificant reason, and if you bag on it, you’re just a mean jackass and there’s no two ways about it.

Look, if some sad-eyed lady tells me that the face of the Virgin Mary appeared to her in a buttroast and told her she was going straight to heaven, and that she should really try the Mongolian Beef at that Chinese place at the intersection of 85 and 140 in Norcross because it is just AMAZING, I am *NOT* going to tell her she’s wrong.

I mean, I’ll think it’s pretty stupid (Apart from the Mongolian beef, because that place was great), but I’m certainly not going to tell her that, because, for whatever reason, she *needs* to believe the Virgin Mary is looking out for her.

If some middle-aged guy is strangely obsessed about Pokemon, and think Ash’s Pikachu is awesome, it doesn’t mean that he’s some sort of freak or moron, it just means that he needs some stupid adorable little kid thing in his life.

Why? Maybe his kid died, and his kid liked Pikachu, and he’s devastated by the loss, and having that crap around is the only thing holding him together. Maybe the Buttroast woman is dealing with a *LOT* of existential terror, and if you take her delusions of heavenly visions away from her, she’ll realize that life is meaningless, and fall into a suicidal depression. You don’t know. It’s not really any of your business. Just don’t do it.

I’m not blameless. I’ve done it. When I was younger and angrier I did it deliberately on occasion. I’ve done it accidentally on occasion now that I’m old and sad. It’s going to happen. When it does, however, and you realize it, don’t defend yourself. Don’t tell them to just get over it. Apologize quickly and sincerely, and ask them what you can do to make it right.

The world does not revolve around *your* world view. Or mine. When someone has a core belief that disagrees with yours, don’t just slam it or mock them, because the odds are they really need it to stay functional. Life is really really damn hard, and you have no idea what people are going through, and attacking their survival mechanisms doesn’t just make you self centered or mean, it makes you an utterly, utterly horrible person.

So just be kind, ok?

4 thoughts on “Just because something has no value for you doesn’t mean it isn’t important to other people

  1. Yeah, depends on context. I mean I completely agree with your sentiment and it’s very nice and we could all certainly stand some improvement in this area. The world would be a better place. But it’s a little black and white. We’ve got this whole “Nazi” thing going on. We’ve got racism. We’ve got hatred/fear of people, places, things. We’ve got people who believe the world is flat and Obama was born in Kenya and that we can’t give out condoms because God says so. So I’m not going to say “there, there, I know this is important to you” when it crosses the line into being a negative influence on people or the world around them.

    But for the most part and I think in the spirit in which you intend it, yes, words to live by. Good job.

    1. There’s obvious exceptions. People with mean or vicious views are exempt from sensitive treatment, obviously.

      I have actually had to deal with people who believe stupid stuff, though. When I was volunteering at that Christian school a couple years ago, they were teaching a well-known open fraud as fact. Not only that, but they extrapolated from it to a conclusion that not only broke several 300-year-old laws of physics *AND* contradicted the Bible itself. When I first read that in their textbook, I chuckled and thought I’d misunderstood, and re-read it. Then I had to go outside and excuse myself and laugh for a while. Then I came back in, and the kid I was helping was just so excited by new learning that even Sir Bedevere would have found embarrassingly dumb. “Wouldn’t that be something to see!” he said, excited.

      Now, this kid was a serious hard case. Abused and abandoned as a little kid, adopted by a nice family. He had a progressive illness resulting in some mild learning disabilities, and a very short life span, he probably won’t make it to 30 (Which is why his original family abused and abandoned him). I looked him in the eye, and as politely as I could, I said “Yes. That’d be neat,” and we moved on to the next part of the textbook. It would have been wrong to introduce confusion into his short, sucky life.

      Had it been something that actually might have affected other people negatively, yeah, I probably would have. In his case, no.

      God never said ‘don’t hand out condoms.’ God seems pretty OK with sex, given that He invented it and all. In 1967 a whole bunch of Protestant churches got together and issued a joint statement that birth control (But not Abortion) is perfectly fine. Billy Graham even signed it. For some bizarre reason this changed in the 90s. I don’t know why, but I find it a little insidious.

  2. I would add one more thing – keep an open mind, even if you don’t end up believing in X. A lot of people think stuff like cartoons are stupid kid stuff. I’m glad others like Walt Disney don’t. Some think miracles are just delusions. But those who believe have sometimes had better lives and gone on to better lives as well.

    I have read that there are atheists determined to preach their “faith”. But telling someone what they *can’t* believe is every bit as obnoxious as telling someone what they *must* believe.

    1. I agree entirely. I call such people, “Evangelical Atheists.”
      If people believe differently than me, I’m cool with it. If people don’t believe anything at all, I’m cool with it. However, if it’s wrong for a believer to get in people’s faces and call them idiots, then it is *ALSO* wrong for an atheist to do that. It’s just common human decency.

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