Welcome to Ask April, a no-nonsense advice column focusing on what it is you can do to correct things that need correcting. While we all know much in life is out of our control, and sometimes, our reaction is all we CAN control- we really do have a lot of personal power, thankfully. Our will is just as important as the wills of others around us, and while we need to be considerate, we also need to make sure others are equally considerate of us. It is my hope that when you write in to me, asking advice, that I can help you make a good decision that somehow improves whatever situation you’ve found yourself in. As with anything I share, I recommend people don’t automatically take my word for anything, but include my advice in with the rest of the things that help them make a decision. I wish you well. Read on.
Every other week, I answer a call for advice, and every other week, I share my views on something I observed- I call this Observational Wisdom.
There seems to be no end to the constant online fighting. If you are on social media, it seems unavoidable to at least witness such fights.
I’ve unfollowed, and deleted , and blocked countless trolls, some of whom think I am the troll. Others feel I don’t care about other people’s opinions, that I have an issue having my views challenged, or that I’m simply a bore.
I’ve told people on more than one occasion that just because I share an opinion on a topic we are all discussing does not mean that I want to spend the rest of the hour, day, week, or the rest of my life explaining myself or proving I am right.
The reason? I actually don’t care about other people’s opinions. I respect them. I just don’t think the sun rises and sets with opinions and endless discussions and or arguments about them.
I don’t need to prove myself.
I don’t need people to agree with me.
I don’t even enjoy the conversations, and I don’t feel like I learn anything.
Finally, I don’t have time. Although I have no kids, and don’t work full-time, I have a busy schedule I adhere to, and I find it a waste of the time I do have that takes away from what all I need to get done.
There are other people, who are quite the opposite, and clearly have nothing else to do but argue online all day long.
I’ve asked such individuals why they do this, and I’ve got varied responses.
- “I am raising awareness.” No, they are not. Raising awareness by sharing articles and topics is VERY different that arguing online. Name calling, telling people they are stupid, and stating and restating the very same points over and over are not educating people. Besides this, if you have explained something succinctly, and somebody still does not understand, you know what? It’s not your problem. Walk away.
- “I am right, and they are wrong.” Nobody cares, most especially the person you think is wrong. Which brings us to point number 3.
- “I am calling them out on their shit” They might be full of shit, but when is the last time when somebody who was full of shit allowed somebody to enlighten them? Sure, it can happen, but do you really think letting them engage you in a fight will accomplish that? It just makes them dig their heels in deeper and shut out everything you say.
- “I am passionate about this.” No no. That’s not what you mean. You mean you are getting an adrenaline rush from this fight you are dying to have. You can get that same high working out at the gym or having sex. Both are significantly healthier ways to get your blood pressure up than squabbling online.
- “He/she started it, and I am not backing down.” What are we, three years old? Grow up.
- “I am doing this for a cause.” Bitching at people, whether it be in person or online won’t advance your cause. It might actually turn people off. Your cause might be the best one in the world, but if your approach is one of hostility, people will often do the opposite of what you want them to do. It’s not worth it.
I learned all this by being guilty of allowing myself to be engaged in many online “discussions”. I discovered the hard way this is counterproductive both for individuals and communities in general.
I also learned that I dislike most people in general. I have friends and loved ones, but most of humanity? I can do my own thing and leave them in peace to do their own thing. This confuses people, because I know how to ACT like I like people. I only do this because people tend to EXPECT everybody to like them, and if they think you don’t, even if you are a complete stranger they see in passing, and then never again, most people will go out of their way to give you a hard time. Therefore, it’s easier for me to go about my business, acting all pleasant and whatnot, and then move on to the next thing I am doing. People say how nice I am. Yeah. I’m just being nice so people will fuck off sometimes, and the truth is, so does most everybody else. It’s called customer service at work, and outside of work, it’s called tact, being an adult, and keeping the peace.
So why can’t more people do this online in discussions? I really think it is because human beings in general are insecure, and would do anything to be accepted. So if somebody tells them they are wrong about a topic, it means they feel their intelligence is questioned. They then worry people will deem them too stupid to accept.
The solution to this is to simply not give a fuck. If you form meaningful relationships in real life with people who make your life better, it’s a hell of a lot easier to do this. I feel secure enough in my personal relationships that I do not need acceptance from infantile “adults” whose sole purpose in life is to puff up their chests and scream “I AM RIGHT!” and demand everybody else agree with them all the time.
I’ve got too much other shit to do.
Friends and Family.
And whatever else I decide to do.
The very last straw that made me completely pull out of online discussions came during what became a fight about some topic with one guy I had seen in heated arguments several times before. The funny part? I can’t even remember the whole topic or the point we specifically disagreed on. What I remember is him going full on militant on me, because nobody is allowed to tell him he is not 100% right, and he persisted for hours, which was nothing new to him. The only way to stop it was to block him. I don’t miss him or his “discussions.”
More than being finished with watching, let alone being dragged into online fights, I am tired of the online world replacing real conversations. Sure, there are some folks I can’t see in person, but I prefer to live my life in the flesh as opposed to digitally. Talking, be it about contentious topics, or something as simple as cooking is best done in person. Always. So if you want to talk about things with me, come on over. I’ll make tea.
See you soon.