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Throughout the nearly two years I've been on LiveJournal, I've met many people.

In the beginning, most of my friends were people I had met through various online communities, and they were people I had known for about a year and a half. My entries were predominantly centered around my Christian faith, since at that time I had just been to one of the best lessons ever given at my youth group, and it had changed my perspective. I wrote many entries dealing with the crucifixion, creationism, and many other issues besides.

During that time, the person who commented the most on my entries* held views completely opposite to my own. While I was a devout Christian, she was a strong atheist. While I read Left Behind, she argued with me about the accuracies enclosed in the book. While I argued my cases against abortion and gay marriage, she took the opposing viewpoint. I remember clearly the anger that swept through me when I felt belittled for my beliefs, and when I wanted to end the debate but she kept going.

Nothing we could say could sway the other, and after a while, the arguments escalated to a point where I had to ban her for a period of time. The ban was lifted, but at that point, I had felt so belittled and looked down upon for my beliefs that I couldn't handle it.

Little did I know, however, that things would change. I suppose it happened when I realized just how liberal LJ was; reading other peoples' entries made me realize that LJ was a leftist community—intensely so, in fact. It was probably then that my viewpoints began to shift. I was still strong in my opinions, but reading other entries about hate crimes did not make me feel comfortable.

One other person* who came to my LJ during that period of time in which my viewpoints were still conservative was a Christian like me. At the time, she felt like a breath of fresh air, away from the pollutants and contaminants that were injected into my faith while reading liberal entries. She understood me, agreeing with my previous opinions about gay marriage and abortion.

It felt like the sun was rising. The sun was shining brightly, and it felt right and correct to be holding the views I did. Nothing compared to the feeling of waking up to a comment praising me for being so wise for my then-fourteen years of age or a comment that said that she agreed completely with me.

It was at that point that I began thinking in earnest. I questioned the opinions that had been drilled into me since birth, almost, and wondered about the entries I had read previously. I read the comments of liberals who commented on my entries, and it seemed like they did have a point. For the first time, I realized that maybe I was being prejudiced.

I paid more attention to other peoples' entries. I remember several posts about abortion, in which some people brought up good points that I haven't quite forgotten—and both my liberal and conservative friends brought up points both worthy of merit. It was around this time that I started looking at both sides of the issues, and as a teen just figuring who the hell she is, I started to grow frustrated with the liberal-conservative war, wherein both groups try to prove to the other that their views are “right” and that their views will “save America.” Blah, blah, blah—it was boring to me. Boring, and pointless.

I realized that there was no point in butting heads with people whose views were different than mine. While I don't run away from debates—not anymore—I realized that it was pointless to be so stuck in my viewpoints that I couldn't change. Who was to say that the conservative view of things is the right thing to believe? And who was to say that the liberals got it right?

No one.

My breakthrough on one issue happened when I was called a bigot on one certain entry months ago. And not just a bigot, but a “bigoted cunt.” I received anonymous bashing when I wrote an entry after Maine legalized same-sex marriage. Although the anonymity of the people responding upset me, it almost made me realize hey, look here. My pants are down. Why don't I pull them the hell up?

Slowly, I realized that when I thought the sun had risen months ago when someone else outside of my immediate family believed in the conservative values I had been born in, it had in fact not appeared. If anything, the sun had set at that point, blinding me to all of the bad in this world that occur in broad daylight. Instead, the sun rose months after that entry, when I finally couldn't say: Well, I won't deal with this right now. I'll just say what I wish would happen and ignore that my ideal situation would never happen. The sun illuminated the fact that I had to finally make a choice. No longer could I stand in the background and shrug noncommittally. I had to do something.

All of the comments over the years took a toll. I would be lying if I said that my views would have changed if I hadn't been exposed to LiveJournal. For example, if I hadn't read the entries regarding RaceFail '09, I never would have realized how prevalent racism still is in today's culture, and I wouldn't have known to pull my pants up when my ass was showing.

I owe LiveJournal many things, but to me, it's truly been a way to meet people. LiveJournal exposed me to so many different people: liberals and conservatives and independents and Christians and atheists and pagans and artists and writers and straights and gays and bisexuals and bookaholics and fandom freaks, just to name a few. And everyone, from that very first person who debated with me on LJ to my dear assless sisters (inside joke) and the people I've met here on LJ Idol, has shaped part of who I am.

And now that my views are finally something I have a measure of peace with, I felt sunny and light—like I can take on the world.

Or maybe, you know, just make some new friends.

*Names withheld, because I don't want to point the fingers at anyone in particular.

--

This has been my entry for week 12 of [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. This week, we had to work with a partner. My partner was [livejournal.com profile] in48frames, and her entry is here. Our votes are combined for their totals this week, so if you like my entry, head over there and vote for her as well.
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callistahogan

March 2010

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