So let’s say there’s this person on the internet that said something that I don’t agree with. Not only does their statement contradict my personal views, but it offends me as well. Should I argue with this person with a counterpoint? Maybe call them names or insult their intelligence because DUH my opinion is ALWAYS right? Or should I just smile and go on my merry interweb way?

Just to be clear, no, I’m not referencing anyone here.

In today’s social media society, people have little problem with posting way too much of their thoughts and issues (controversial and otherwise) online. Whether it be one’s thoughts on abortion/gun control/race or even one’s bowel movement problems, it gets thrown up on the web for everyone else to see. Is it annoying to see your old friend from high school go on and on and about some edgy topic that hits you right in the feels? Of course it is. Do we have to respond or even be offended? Nope.

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This doesn’t only pertain to the internet, by the way. People in general have become much more open to voicing their beliefs in person than they have been in the past, especially younger Americans. Try telling a college student not to discuss politics or religion with strangers and most will look at you as if you just told them that there are Martians in a nearby alley selling a new crack/ecstasy hybrid drug. Voicing your opinion on a topic is your right as an American, of course (this topic will come back up later), but there are occasions where we must ask ourselves, “Is it worth it?”

Cigar Lounge is designed for civil conversation about topics that might not occur on other sites. Whether it be gay marriage, religion, football, football, gun rights, free speech, or even football, commenters are here to discuss them without risk of retribution, overly-emotional reaction, or name-calling. It’s not guaranteed, but what is these days? Even a $15 cigar isn’t guaranteed to not be plugged.

The First Amendment gives everyone in the United States of ‘Merica the Freedom of Speech. More so, it gives citizens the freedom of IDEAS and individual thought. A differing view on a topic from one’s own is not necessarily a sign of less intellect. Despite what Gawker/Fox News/HuffPo/whoever says, it’s not. Nor is that person with a differing view your “enemy” (unless, of course, your opinion is that you shouldn’t be shot, and their opinion is that you should indeed be shot IRL). It just means that each person has a different idea about something. Nothing more, nothing less. No matter what the issue is, this simple disagreement does not warrant RAGE or OFFENSE.

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To dig a bit deeper into this topic, there’s a sociology hypothesis called the “Thomas Theorem”. The theorem says that each person’s reality is shaped by their past experiences and inputs. So if Bob grew up being told that college was out of reach for him, no one else in the family ever went to college, and college is full of horrible people, Bob is probably not going to go to college. He probably thinks that college is a pretty dumb concept as well. Why? Because that has been his reality, as submitted by his upbringing. If Jenny is colorblind and sees the sky as green, who are you to tell her she’s wrong? That’s her reality. That’s her belief. Bob and Jenny very well might be geniuses, but see the world differently than many of us. Their views do not make them dumb.

So why shouldn’t we RAGE or be offended by what others say? First, we must look at WHY they think what they think. Do they have a different experience than you? Most likely, yes. Is that something to ridicule? No. But take note of it, as if you’d like to argue (intelligently, of course) the point, you must argue it in a way that makes sense to THEM. Even then, though, their belief is their reality; good luck trying to change a lifetime of ingrained thought in one chat.

Secondly, what does it matter that someone disagrees with you about ANYTHING? Did they just insult your mom? Did they say that you should be ashamed of yourself because of some trait you possess? Did they just insult a group that you belong to (mine is #allwhitecishetmalesshoulddie)? My response: Okay. Cool. Sure thing. Whatever. Because, unless this person has a heavy influence on my future (as in they could have me fired due to our disagreement, not “they vote differently than I do”), why SHOULD I give a shit? That person might have been offensive to me, but only I can truly TAKE offense to it.

So, after all of that, it boils down to if you truly WANT to rage, be offended, and get your blood pressure up over some random person’s personal beliefs that most likely have zero effect on your life in any way whatsoever. If you’re so inclined, by all means, argue your point. Call names. Insult intelligence. You show that son of a bitch who’s boss! Just don’t expect it to make anymore of an impact than talking to a wall. If there’s no intellectual conversation to be had, why partake?

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Life is too short for bullshit, my friends.