I Hate Literalists

Before Twitter unceremoniously suspended my account, ostensibly for “spamming” even though I wasn’t spamming (fuck you forever, Jack Off Dorsey), I got into a friendship-ending argument with some scientist guy I’d been following since the beginning. While he got on my nerves sometimes with his “Science above all!” attitude, I’m a pretty easy-come, easy-go kind of guy, and I could always manage to look the other way and say to myself “Forget about it, poet. He’s a pretty decent fellow at heart.”

Welp, one day a Buddhist account I was following posted a parable about how the faces of sunflowers always follow the sun, except when it was cold and cloudy, then sunflowers would turn to face each other in order to keep warm.

A lovely sentiment, I thought. Didn’t really matter if it was true or not, the message was “let’s help each other, because we’re all in this together.” So I retweeted it.

Not a minute later, Dr. Dork jumped on my timeline and started berating the post. He said that sunflowers did no such thing.

I ignored it.

Two minutes later, he was on my thread again berating the post and I basically said something like “Lighten up, doc. Literalists are my least favorite people.” Since he was basically a decent guy, I thought he’d take the hint.

Nope, a minute later he jumps on my thread yet again and starts comparing me to Q-Anon. He said “feelings over facts are why we have conspiracy theories,” to which I replied “feelings over facts are why we have artists, shithead.”

And that was it. Ta-ta, dickface. I wrote a few more stinging replies, but decided it was best to delete the one where I called him “shithead” because I could sense that Twitter was suspension happy. Then I blocked him.

And that was that. A four-year Twitter friendship came to an end over a playful, philosophical post about sunflowers.

I’ve known a few literalists in my day. Probably the worst of them was the elder brother of a beloved girlfriend. He was the kind of guy who would act like a total asshole during the week, but get up before the Catholic congregation and sanctimoniously read scripture every Sunday.

Larry. I hate him to this day.

It all reminds me of the parable of the “Hag of Naropa.” To paraphrase, there was a learned prince who knew all the words of his sect’s scripture, and he would piously recite the phrases to everybody in the village, constantly.

But there as an ugly old village woman who couldn’t resist berating him, and generally getting the best of him in public.

I can’t remember the story specifically, but it ended with the old hag laughing at the prince, telling him “Yes, it’s true, you do know all the words…but you don’t know what they mean.”