The internet can be a dark and scary place full of opinion pieces. Some of them have very strong and polarizing viewpoints. Some of them use coarse language (“bad words.”) Some of them come from the heart, while some of them come from the head. They can confirm our existing beliefs, or drive us completely mental because they are everything we disagree with deep in our souls. It is easy to get carried away with outrage, but before you do, ask yourself these two questions before you rant and rave and demand they “do better.”
Are you the target market?
Once upon a time my son rattled off about some new toy trend at school with great excitement. I could not for the life of me understand why he was so stoked. I shared my confusion. He laughed and said, “You are not the target market, weirdo.” I don’t know where he got that expression from, but it taught me a lot about marketing. If you aren’t excited by something, you probably aren’t the intended audience for it. That doesn’t make it “bad” or “stupid,” it’s just not your jam. Not everything has to be your jam.
If you find you are bent out of shape because of the language, tone or content of an article, consider if you are the intended audience. You could stomp your feet and demand they present information in a way that is more comfortable for you, or you could consider why, if you’re not the target market, you are demanding they re-target their content for you. It might surprise you that the piece was likely not commissioned for your personal comfort/entertainment. Whoever wrote the piece composed it for people who like that sort of thing, who don’t mind four letter words or don’t need academic citations for why they are irritated by boob sweat in the summer. If you didn’t like it, it probably wasn’t meant for you.
Do you yell at hot dog vendors for not selling sushi? No. That would be incredibly fucked up. It’s not like they are pretending to sell sushi and you are surprised by a wiener and a bun. They are clearly a hot dog stand. The fact that you don’t like hot dogs doesn’t obligate them to serve something else.
With that in mind, why are you getting mad at a publication for serving what they always serve? Are you suddenly mad at the National Inquirer because you don’t believe in alien abductions? The people they write for do though. Just because you aren’t the target market, doesn’t mean there isn’t one or shouldn’t be one or that their target market shouldn’t be served because you don’t like what they are dishing up. Get over yourself and find your tribe who groove to your vibe and leave others to what they like.
Something few people seem to know is that if you don’t like a publication, you can just unlike and unfollow and you don’t actually need to notify anyone at all. There’s literally nobody policing this. When you are driving around on a Friday night, trying to decide where to eat, do you stop at every dining establishment and inform them why they were not selected to feed you? Do you loudly advise them you will be eating somewhere else? No, that would also be fucked up. When you do decide to make a flouncenouncement about your departure, you look like the asshole who burst into McDonalds to delineate why you prefer Jack-in-the-Box. Nobody cares, I promise. Which leads me to question 2.
Are you being fucked with?
Sometimes, when something pisses you off, it was actually written with you in mind. Not to educate you, but to mock you. You’re being trolled. You are being fucked with. You could get worked up about it or…. you could keep scrolling. Just like dinner parties, you don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to. You can say “Not today, assholes” and move on with your life. If someone wrote something to fuck with you, telling them you’re extra pissed off about it probably isn’t going to inspire anything but a high five amongst the editorial team, success! Sometimes you’re the punchline, and that’s just how life is.
The bottom line is, these are not your people. You can scream into oblivion about how mean people are and how unfair it is or you can continue on with whatever it is they are mocking you about if that’s what makes you happy. You do you. They do them. You could complain, but they are probably just going to gleefully tell you to go fuck yourself.
“Are you the target market?” and “Are you being fucked with?” are the keys to opinion piece consumption that doesn’t lead to your head exploding. The bottom line is, writers on the internet aren’t elected representatives, and they don’t owe you anything. They are not obligated to regurgitate your viewpoint, nor are they jukeboxes designed to play only what you want to hear when you want to hear it. Art does not have to mirror the beholder; radios play music, they don’t amplify what you sing as the listener.
No publication is obligated to serve you personally. If you have a problem with something you read, don’t just Monday morning quarterback about it. Write a well thought-out counterargument and submit it for publication or accept that maybe they (or you and people like you) are just assholes. Take your damn hot dog and say thank you, or find yourself a sushi joint you can live with. Blogs that people write aren’t required reading, and you are not required to dine somewhere that doesn’t make you happy.
Post script: A Note About Hate Speech and Freedom of Speech
Obviously hate speech is bad. Publications that fall under that category should be legally sanctioned. We shouldn’t have to explain this, but here we are.
In terms of freedom of speech, if you object to an article and you find your comment was deleted, not approved or mocked, your freedom of speech HAS NOT been infringed upon. Freedom of speech is about lack of government sanction for having opinions. Freedom of speech does not require any publication to give you a platform. If you want a platform, build it your damn self.
“The Lorax” is where the quote came from.