I was given a gift by an old acquaintance on Facebook. She responded to a political comment I made on her personally based political timeline post. She said she was glad she knew me when I was young and not bitter. She is apparently an avid supporter of Hillary Clinton, whom I have publicly criticized on Facebook and elsewhere.
Why would I consider being called bitter a gift? Well, I appreciated the validation that my reality is far distant from the realities of those who consider themselves part of mainstream America, as I perceive it in places like Facebook. If I were considered to hold banal views of a media-indoctrinated zombie, I would be devastated. That would really make me bitter in the parlance of my universe.
I'm actually quite jolly in my way. Perhaps someone who knows me better might agree. It matters little to me. I am amused by life. I am amused by myself. I am even amused by mortality. I am happy with the people who really matter to me. My daily life, compared to my whole life history, is leisurely and financially untroubled. I'm out of bed at 7. I'm asleep by 11. I look around at my gym and feel pretty damn good for almost 67. (Seriously, the apparently straight married guys my age are mostly shipwrecks.)
I had to spend some time figuring out what this 'bitter' thing meant, coming from my old acquaintance. We aren't chatty friends, or else I'd just ask her. So I came up with some speculation.
I know that most heterosexual married people with children and grandchildren are deeply prejudiced against those of us elders who are childless. They consider us as missing something, not quite right, perhaps even mentally ill. And, if we don't goo-goo over their progeny, we are liable to be suspected of being psychopaths. If we are too attentive to their progeny, we are liable, as old gay men, to be suspected of pedophilia. This I have known for a long time, though it is hardly ever spoken within our hearing. Am I being considered bitter on these grounds?
Perhaps I seem bitter because I contradict all the things that make some elderly conformists feel safe and warm: Family, religion, ethnicity, political correctness, traveling on cruises, consuming too much wine, trips to casinos, whatever. None of those 'values' apply to my life. I don't drink or take psychotropic drugs. I don't gamble. I don't take charter tours of European cathedrals. I don't go South in winter. I don't shop for unneeded items. I read. I watch intelligent media. I walk in my own community. I belong to my civic association. I drive a 16-year-old Japanese subcompact. I even enjoy shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's once a week. Is being vocally different from conformists a form of bitter?
I may seem bitter because I live with my eyes wide open. I consider human beings to be just another mammalian predator species. I do not live inside the technology I use. I actually understand how some of it works, so I am not a religious optimist about technology's ability to save the planet. Probably isn't going to happen before the Sun's supernova or our self-initiated extinction. I think human beings have overpopulated and have irreparably destroyed a great deal of what made Earth an outstandingly beautiful planet.
I don't feel I have to justify any contribution to overpopulation or environmental degradation. I will have left a sizable carbon footprint in a single life, but, considering that I haven't added any new footprints behind me, I'll hold my head up. Add to that my work in human services and my conscientious payment of taxes, and I think I come up on the asset side of the asset-deficit scale of our species. I would probably more likely be seen as conceited for these beliefs, not bitter.
Is my perceived bitterness associated with my free expression of what I truly perceive and think? Maybe my lack of concern over what the mob thinks about me or what I say is considered to be bitter or, even worse, 'angry'. Ooh, 'angry people' are so bad in today's politically correct, conformist, passive-aggressive world, where the rudest creeps toss out 'sorry' like an expletive. Openly angry about things that are infuriating is way worse than bitter. So, maybe my old acquaintance was being exceedingly kind. Maybe she thinks I am angry, which I am about many things I see around me. So, perhaps, I should really prize her nailing me on Facebook as only bitter.