I don’t talk about “causes” too much at F4Y, not because they aren’t important, but because I think there are more important things for young people to focus on. In fact, I think I really have only championed a couple of causes in these pages, HERE and HERE most notably. I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that stray furthest from my stated goals of providing financial education to young people. They’re related, but there’s a little more of a stretch to get there.
I read a lot of other blogs, and one of my favorites is a very good site for consumers, THE CONSUMERIST, that I think does a very good service. Ben and crew really pull out the stops to help the consumer. I have no problem with them, even if I disagree with some of their points of view. Sometimes, however, when reading the comments, I chuckle a little because it seems that many of the commenters really enjoy their daily dose of righteous indignation and hippery, (not a word, but I can’t think of a better definition for the practice of rallying against the ideas of rules and conformity in any way, like the hippies) to the point of the ridiculous.
Let’s get a few things straight:
– Bloggers are mostly anonymous. Nobody knows if the “credentials” that the blogger claims are legitimate. This includes myself. I know my credentials are legitimate, and so do the people that know me outside of F4Y, but that’s about it.
– Commenters on blogs are even more anonymous. Since they are only posting their reaction to a specific story, nobody really attempts to check their legitimacy, nor should they. Some blogs actively accept anonymous comments, for whatever reason.
– It’s easy to raise the rally of social injustice, as long as you are anonymous, and not subject to any of the unforeseen circumstances that come with being open and vocal about an issue.
I’m not against the concept of causes, as far as they go. In fact, I think of a good cause for rebellion as a way to break up the monotony, and have a little fun. At work, I have often decided to champion some “great injustice” or another, and I have every bit of fun that I can with them. The downside is, I have been fired a lot for this kind of behavior.
My problem is when people start crying out for civil disobedience (there’s another term I prefer, but not one I can use in a family friendly setting, so this will work just as well) over non-issues. Time after time, I read where a company has a process in place that are annoying, but not really that bad. Comenters call for people to stand up for their rights, and make accusations about people who just want to get into, and out of, a place as quickly as possible. THIS POST is what set me off on this topic today. I read the story and thought, “So what? This guy had a wild hair, and got arrested for his trouble. Is this really that important?” Then I read the comments, and some of these people started irking me. Okay, I get it; you don’t have to submit to having the security guy look at your receipt unless there is some evidence of theft. They can’t unlawfully detain you for not submitting to their rules. Does not doing so, and in a forceful manner make you a hero? No, it makes you a [insert favorite expletive here] (remember MAD LIBS? If not, they are a lot of fun), and sometimes, you will get more trouble than its worth if you insist on sticking to your principle when it really doesn’t matter. Like my dad always told me growing up, “You can do ANYTHING you want, as long as you are willing to pay the price for it.”
Am I saying you should roll over every time? Not at all. I think it is very important to stand up for what you believe in. I think there are times where you need to stand your ground, no matter what the cost. I think you just really need to choose your battles, and fight only when the benefits outweigh the downside.