In these rough times, our tempers seem to be very short. Twice in the last day, I’ve had people assume or read a tone into something I’ve written that simply wasn’t there. I can’t say I necessarily reacted patiently, though I did ask for clarification and took the time to visit profiles to gauge their normal point of view.
So here is what I suggest, if only for the next week while the wounds of incredible hatred are still fresh: try to give people the benefit of the doubt when you talk with them and they say something that upsets you. Ask for clarification. See what kind of people they are in general and see if the comment fits.
In my case, the request for clarification didn’t go well, but honestly, it’s nothing lost. That’s the other thing: anyone who is willing to take out whatever it is they’re experiencing on someone they don’t know isn’t likely worth your time anyway. So retreat to your corners of the internet and exist in blissful ignorance of one another.
The whole purpose of these movements based in hate is to drive us apart. Especially allies, because the fewer allies there are, the more strife and derision, the easier it is to push their mission of bigotry.
Being less reactionary means we win. Being willing to have a dialogue means we win. Giving the benefit of the doubt means we win.
One caveat: it’s never worth your time to try to persuade or have a discussion with a propaganda troll. They have similar profiles, and usually regurgitate the same talking points. In fact if you go on long enough, you can see the decision tree they’re given to respond to conversations. Block, and if appropriate report.
Otherwise, remember we’re all in this together. There’s a great mental fatigue now, don’t let it drive us apart.
For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.
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