|People who fight fire with fire|
usually end up with ashes.
Abigail Van Buren
Over the years, I’ve engaged with people I don’t know on issues where I wasn’t likely to change my mind, and found nothing but anger and vitriol. Perhaps I’m getting old, but I no longer find the clash of insults and character assassination to be fun or worthwhile.
With that in mind, I’ve made a pretty simple rule about social and political discussion with people I don’t know and probably won’t meet—I don’t.
With a wide range of diverse friends, some online and some in real life, I have more than enough people who are happy and willing to challenge my preconceived notions on a subject. I don’t really need a stranger, a friend of a friend of an acquaintance, to tell me how wrong I am, how misguided, how pretentious my opinion is. That’s what friends are for.
|Disagree? I say we dust off and nuke the site from orbit.|
It's the only way to be sure.
If I can’t buy you a beer (or whatever your poison) after we’ve thrown our rhetorical punches, what’s the point? An example came from my recent criticism about the misapplication of a misstated Pope Francis quote. The particulars aren’t important, only the insulting response:
So, Mr. RobRoy... I'd like to know exactly what you mean by the full quote? I've looked at many other sources and can only find a few minor additions, but the core issue being presented through these multiple memes is the same. If you're not too high and mighty to not address someone who you can't "have a beer with" then I'd like to see what the "full quote" is.
That being said, if you DON'T answer, I'm only left to assume that A: You lack the composure to have a discussion with someone you disagree with without the ability to "kiss and make-up" afterward or B: You actually have an entirely unfounded argument and are just defending what he said for the simple fact that he is the Pope, which in and of itself is an almost entirely pitiful endeavor.
I like that he called me “Mr. RobRoy”. In the future, I'd like everyone who considers my opinion beneath their consideration to address me this way. It will save a lot of time!
Usually, I don’t respond at all, but I know some people are tired of this kind of negative engagement, so here’s a little something I put together that you’re welcome to cut and paste whenever the occasion should arise:
Hi! I’d love to have a conversation on this topic, but I'm afraid not with you. I assure you, that’s not an insult. Perhaps you’re a nice guy. I simply don’t know. But I don't know you, and you don't know me. Even with that, you've deemed it necessary to insult me and arrive at preconceived, unwarranted notions of my beliefs and my character without any other information or previous engagement. Hardly a good starting place for a friendly conversation, wouldn't you say?
Life is simply too short to get angry at people you don't know and may never meet on issues that you're not willing to change your mind. Good luck!
You don’t even need to source me on this. It’s yours for the taking and the using. You can always thank me by buying my book.