So, apparently my blog post a couple days ago (here) isn’t an isolated occurrence. My wife, Black Girl In Maine (on Twitter here: @blackgirlinmain) retweeted something that another person didn’t agree with, said person then making it into a personal argument with my wife and the person who tweeted the link that my wife retweeted.
With much the same result as what happened with me, there was much overreaction, twisting of words/intent and overblown mayhem over something minor.
So, I don’t know if there are leftovers from the full moon recently, the lunar eclipse, angst over absent fathers or deadbeat husband/dads during Father’s Day weekend, or the upcoming Solstice upsetting the balance of The Force…clearly, something was wacky in our online lives this past weekend.
So, let me share some thoughts/wisdom/randomness about all this (and don’t assume all of these have to do with what I posted about the other day; much of this is inspired by my wife’s experience):
- If apologize to you, that doesn’t always mean I think that I’m wrong, unless I actually say, “Hey, I was wrong.” It may be an admission that I was partly wrong. Or it may simply mean that I know you won’t let go of some imaginary shit you’ve built up in your head, and I’m simply sorry I said something to cause you to twist yourself out of shape unnecessarily. Or it may just mean I think you’re fragile and need some token gesture.
- If I acknowledge that I may have done something wrong at some point in a debate or discussion, this doesn’t mean I have admitted to having been in the wrong. That is, I may have made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that the thing you got pissed about originally was because of something inappropriate that I did. Your anger may still be misplaced but I may have subsequently done something wrong in reaction to your misplaced anger. This probably does NOT invalidate my original point.
- If I say something that you think is directed at you, but I didn’t name you in my comment online, you should NOT assume it was about you. You are not the center of the universe. If I have more than a handful of people following/reading my stuff, there’s a decent chance I’m talking about someone else. I might even be talking about someone in the physical world as opposed to our shared online world.
- If I continue to be in a discussion or debate with you explaining my position, my continued efforts to explain my position or describe what happened is not some automatic, tacit admission that I “know I did wrong” and am now trying to redirect blame or save face. It may simply be that I don’t think you understand what’s going on or that you’re not listening to me.
- Picking fights with someone on Twitter or on a blog with way more followers than you have in order to gain “street cred” or get a reputation or draw in new followers isn’t cool. If you can only get people to flock to you by creating artificial drama, you aren’t real…and thus you aren’t worth flocking to.
- Continuing to hold to your position without budging one iota, particularly if I’ve made some concessions myself along the way in our discussion or debate, doesn’t make you right. Chances are, it just makes you stubborn.
- If you defend someone, assigning them no blame and me all of the blame, you are in no position to claim that you have not taken sides, nor are you in a position to criticize me for having come down on the side of the person whom I am defending. Because you’re doing the same thing.
- Passive-aggressive sniping isn’t cool. Be direct. Insult me or criticize me directly. Don’t make backhand compliments or personal attacks on issues that have nothing to do with our discussion.
- People who overreact to harmless comments make themsleves easy targets. But we shouldn’t take too many easy shots just because they have made themselves easy picking, when we can just walk away instead.
And if you’re anyone online with whom I personally have jousted this weekend, kindly don’t react or respond to any of these points with any reference to our original discussion, whether direct or oblique (that also goes for anyone whom I may have defended or with whom I may have allied). Some of them apply to our discussions, some apply to my wife’s, and some may apply to both. But I don’t want to go in circles over old material, nor do I want to explain to you which of these you inspired. I point out bad behavior in religion and politics around here, for example, and right now I’m pointing out bad behavior online.
Shit, to be honest, the above points apply to a lot of things I’ve seen for years now on Twitter, on Facebook, in discussion forums or on blogs even in discussions in which I was merely a spectator or minor player, and would apply to things I’ve faced before this weekend. I think they are good points for all of us to keep in mind online.
And yes, I’ve made some of the above mistakes at times. But I don’t make them habitually, and those of you who might read this who do perform them habitually, please just stop. Just. Fucking. Stop.