Friday, July 6, 2018

No Need to Argue

    Remember when the internet was this awesome place that brought people together?  Any kind of
interest or hobby you could dream of, all you had to do was head to the internet and you would find others who were like minded and you could all be together talking about and sharing your similarities and interests and not worrying about the rest.   What happened?
    This week I offended someone on Facebook (shocking, I know!)  But the thing is, we live in an offended world.  I rarely speak to people I don't know well and and almost never post anything publicly to anyone's Facebook account because, as strange as it may seem, apart from my love of fashion which I only share here, I'm a very private person, I'm a person who values peace.   I don't intentionally post things to FB or anywhere else if I think they could even mildly cause offense which is why I rarely post anything to FB.  I don't seek out or enjoy confrontation--but some people do.  Some people love it so much they'll create confrontation where none exists.  Let me set the scene for you using a similar but slightly altered scenario.  Keep in mind, this isn't exactly what happened, just a scenario, so please don't write me your view of who's wrong and who's right.
    Recently a friend of mine started a blog and Facebook page about one of her hobbies which also happens to be one of mine--farming.  Her hubby posted a pic of them pasteurizing some milk and I commented with a pic of a tub of fresh milk and said "we prefer ours straight out of the cow."  Her husband, whom I have never met or spoken to before, was instantly irate.  "You know it's illegal to buy and sell raw milk!"  I was really taken off guard by his anger.  So, I tried to reply in a shrug-it-off-let's-agree-to-disagree kind of way by saying "it's perfectly legal in my state to purchase raw milk and we use a well trusted and certified dairy."  So naturally within an hour or so they removed me from the group.  Wait!....Whaaaaaaat?!  (keep in mind I changed the issue for privacy sake.  It's not  actually about raw milk, so don't write to me and tell me how dangerous it is).  I was mortified that what I intended as a harmless bit of camaraderie was met with such contempt.  I was hurt that she seemed to think so little of me or at least that she allowed her husband to take such drastic measures.
    I tend to struggle with being too loyal.  Words like friendship, integrity, honesty, they mean something to me.  And so does forgiveness.  I don't have many friends, but the ones I do have I would do anything for--anything.  This woman was one of them.  As is the case with so many broken
relationships, the feeling was not mutual.  It was no big thing to boot me out of her life.  Which says to me that she didn't really deserve my loyalty and I shouldn't be sad to see her go......but I still am.  I loved that lady and all her rough edges and her big opinions, even if they didn't mesh with mine.  And now she's gone, just like that.  I'd like to take a Holden Caulfield attitude to it all and , "Oh well, never mind," the heck out of moments like these and people like this, but I can't.  It's just not how I work.  So, how did I handle the FB kerfuffle?  Did I demand this woman put me back in her group or apologize for her husband's rudeness and ignorance?  Nope.  I didn't say a thing.  Because I have a rule about building people up on the internet rather than tearing them down.  There's so much ugliness and tearing down out there, I sort of feel like a rebel for going the other way.
        If you're a person and you're alive in the current year, you've probably heard the saying, "take it with a grain of salt."  I used to think that meant we were supposed to swallow the bitterness of hurtful things.  It actually comes from an ancient Greek recipe by Pliny the Elder for an antidote to poison.  Salt is supposed to kill the poison, not make it easier to swallow.  So, how do we take that precious grain of salt in this age of constant offense?  Well, we can't control what other people say and how they react.  But we can control the way we react and the content of things we choose to post first and foremost by asking ourselves before jumping into a comment war, "Do I actually have something to say or do I just want to say something?"  More often than not when I first put that question into practice the answer was I just wanted to say something.  As time went on it was easier and easier to say nothing.  And then it became easier to just calm down and be nice.  While it's true that some things in this world are worth standing up and fighting for, not many of those things are on FB.
    Next, consider the source, both the person and the site:  if it's a miserable person who loves to argue, try not to let it get to you.  On the other hand, if it's someone you really do respect, take a moment or two to see if you need to put any stock into what this person has said.  Maybe they've pointed out an area where you need to do a little work or an angle you've never considered, but I've never heard someone say, "boy that comment on FB really turned me around."  FB comments are rarely the place where people who care reach out.  Important things get said to us face-to-face, in phone calls, or at the very least in private messages, not in a comment war. 
    Lastly, if you choose to reply, or comment on things, a good rule to live by on the internet is the same rule human beings have used in good old fashioned face-to-face conversations since the dawn of time and try not to say things on the internet that we wouldn't say to someone's face.  Or maybe just take it a step further and remember  that age old piece of motherly wisdom, "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all."  True we'd all probably have a whole lot less to say, but we'd also probably have a lot more friends. 

1 comment

  1. It's so sad and disappointing when things like that happen :( I have experienced a few times myself and it's really awful, especially if the person you're up "against" (for a lack of better word) is someone you love or look up to.

    I just think people are being so damn sensitive these days. And I think they confuse free speech and strong opinions with actually trying to hurt somebody else.

    Sora |


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