I was floundering around this morning, trying to think of something to post about when a friend of mine told me about a friend of HERS who said she couldn’t comment on my friend’s blog because of some person on Twitter she’d publicly disagreed with who was now following her around and trolling her everywhere. Evidently whoever this person is has some kind of controversial blog where they call attention to all the alleged social injustices, racism, misogyny, and other such things in books and media. Which is not a bad thing to do, per sae, but this person does it in such a vitriolic and hate-filled manner, that they probably do more damage to the cause than good.
I’m not linking to anybody or anything because Lord knows I don’t want any trolls around here. But it’s got me thinking about the whole fight against the bad things in the world. No question there are awful things out there. There is discrimination on all kinds of things. There are people who think they have the right to dictate who loves who and whether those people can form a legal life partnership. There are those who think that they have a right to dictate what women do with their bodies and how they choose to approach reproduction (or lack thereof). There are children going hungry in our own hometowns. There are wars being fought with child soldiers. The list goes on ad infinitim.
Certainly people need to be made aware of these issues. I’m not suggesting anybody do an ostrich impression and ignore them.
But fighting hate with more hate gets us nowhere.
I’m a big believer in the fact that whatever you send out into the world multiplies and tends to boomerang back on you. It’s why I feel so strongly about maintaining an attitude of service and trying to help other writers (well, other people in general, but especially writers) with no expectation of getting something back in return. It’s not about profit or personal gain.
The thing is, you’re not going to change someone’s mind by spewing a bunch of poisonous words and accusations at them. That immediately puts them on the defensive about whatever it is you’re trying to point out, which is not at all the place from which you can expect change. Mostly, once you’re past toddlerhood, shaming someone into true behavior change doesn’t work.
Far more constructive is to say, “Hey, have you ever considered that x might imply y?” They probably haven’t. And it might open the door to a rational, intellectual discussion about the issue in a way that “You’re a total douchenozzle for saying x!” does not.
And even beyond the notion of education and recognition is the idea of changing the world with your actions. It’s like those Liberty Mutual commercials (I’m ridiculously fond of them) about the whole chain reaction of people seeing other people doing the right thing and then changing something about their own behavior. Actions speak far louder than words.
If you base your actions AND your words from a place of love, with an aim toward sending more positivity into the world, I guarantee you will have a broader long-term impact on the people around you than any argument won by spewing hate and shame.
That’s just my 2 cents this fine Monday.
I love those commercials, too, and I’m afraid I’ll have to admit they have sometimes brought tears to my eyes. *blushes*
I try to be as nice as I can when I express an opinion online. In fact, I sometimes write comments, then delete half of them or completely change them because I want to make sure my tone doesn’t sound critical or “bossy”. And I hope I NEVER sound hateful. I see a lot of things online that I don’t agree with, even among some of my author friends, but I usually keep quiet unless I know I can have a “friendly” disagreement with no hard feelings. I see no reason why people feel they have to be mean or hateful. That is so against my nature, that I don’t understand it at all. 🙁
I’ll add a big “yes!” to you two cents. I don’t understand people who leave negative comments or approach commentary in general with a chip on their shoulders. Seems a lot more fun and better in the long term to catching flies with honey 🙂
I’m so relieved that someone else likes those Liberty Mutual commercials, and I will blushingly admit that, with Lauralynn, I have teared up at some of them. I don’t see the point of being unpleasant–as you say, even if one were not being altruistic, a moderate approach is far more likely to make someone listen to you than a vitriolic one.
I have been accused of being “nice,” said in the most sneering tone. Go figure–but I have no plans to change. 🙂
What a relief to hear a voice of sanity. It makes me hopeful that my soon-to-be-released novella with a ‘solutions to bullying’ theme will find some people who understand the approach my character takes (with the help of an old hippie). I think you’d like the final quote in the book. It’s by Martin Luther King Jr.
“I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”