Unless you’ve been living in a cave blissfully unaware of the events of the world over the last week or so -and I envy you if that’s the case- you’ve probably picked up on how much turmoil has gone down. There are left and right factions going at it over statues and all kinds of stuff that as a member of the community I feel invested in. Statues to traitors and losers, which are really just monuments to our racist past, they need to go. If you come down on any side of the equation that seeks to undermine equal rights, well, I’ve got nothing for you. Really, my central ideology is as simple as this: be nice. Be nice until you can’t be nice. Then do what you’ve got to do.
That’s the thing though, and it’s why I’m writing today. We’re not going to resolve anything with this post, no matter what my take on arguing on the internet may be sometimes. We may change minds or open up a fair dialogue, but I doubt it. That’s not cynicism speaking either, but experience, and one that I’m here to discuss right now. Over the last few days, I’ve been in the trenches. Not out in the streets, like I wish I was, but that’s only because I have a family to tend, just here online. I’ve engaged on a host of topics that frustrate and upset me, things that seem second nature to me. Is empathy really that controversial a topic? It breaks my heart to think it is.
You can’t always change minds in person, let alone online. It seems like you can, and I think the optimist in a lot of us wants that, but it’s a rare interaction that gets people really talking and considering, one that requires open minds from the start. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make the world the best that you can make it, but that it’s not any one person’s responsibility to shoulder those burdens alone. Overwhelmed by the weight of world? Take a breather. Watch a comedy. Hug a friend. Tell someone you love them. That’s not meant to glad handle any of these sensitive moments and is certainly not meant to ignore the very real problems faced by many on a daily basis, but it’s just real. Why get your anxiety out of sorts online with a circular argument?
Don’t hesitate to block or unfollow people if it’s too much for you. I get the perspective that outside prerogatives are valuable, but I have no idea how adding to your daily worry follows suit. I realize that this seems like just putting your fingers in your ears and it is something that should be considered, but seriously value your emotional and mental health. Engage. Get out in the community. Debate online when it makes sense. But if you’ve got people that you either don’t or just barely know hurling insults and defending the heinous things in life, why waste your time? Save that energy for something that matters when it can, advice I need to take almost every day. No one is saying to ignore the problems of the world and hope for the best, which is just a privilege to begin with, but just to take a step back as you need it. Take care of your own emotional and mental well-being, because you’ll need it to keep fighting the good fight.