Yeah I know I already did a meditation on this. As I’ve said before a lot of these meditations come from issues I’m having or seeing with others…and this is something I have issues with. Admitting you have a problem is the first step.
So let me do a little background that will probably strike a chord with most of you as well.
First off I’m on the internet (and if you’re reading this, odds are you are too). In fact I’m on several avenues. I’m on Facebook and WordPress and Twitter and now Tumblr (what in God’s name was I thinking?). I actually don’t like a lot of this. Yes, I like keeping in touch with friends on Facebook, and coming up with witty moments on Twitter, and obviously I love writing so WordPress is handy too. But (with the exception of the reason I originally got on Facebook) do you know what my primary goal for being on all of these is? Book sales. I view all of it as modern advertising to get my books sales up. And it works, I get more hits from all these sites to my pages on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and AuthorHouse than I do from any other source. It’s marketing in the 21st century. My goal is to become a full time writer (I have plans and outlines for over 20 books, fiction and nonfiction) but I need one of them to take off first.
However to be active on all of these you run into a lot of idiots. A lot of idiots.
And that brings me to the second problem I have that I’m sure a lot of you can identify with. I like to hear opposing opinions, I like to hear someone challenge my ideas with thoughtful arguments, I enjoy argument for the sake of argument and I like to challenge my own beliefs. But people on the internet are so dumb and so arrogant in their idiocy. Their stupidity makes me not want to even listen, and their arrogance makes me want to beat them into a pulp with words. I think we all feel this when being confronted with idiots.
It doesn’t help, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have three settings: off, polite conversation, and FLAMING SWORD OF TRUTH IN MY HANDS READY TO DECAPITATE ALL WHO OPPOSE ME. (In case you’re wondering I’m very good at not reaching that third level in public, but it’s so tempting on the internet…)
For instance I had two idiots both try and tell me that the philosophy behind communism and fascism weren’t responsible for the atrocities, those governments were just “cults of personality” (2 people actually used that term)…yes, because, Franco, Stalin, and Brezhnev and Hu Jintao are just who you always look to when you think charismatic person who has a cult of personality. And I saw this WTF inducing statement after already responding to two other idiots. (And it doesn’t help that responding to two idiots drove the hit count on my blog up. Neither the thoughtful discussion I linked on my blog, nor the snarky post I initially put up is what brought the viewers; it was the pettier argument that brought them. I’m receiving classical conditioning to give into some of my worst habits.)
Now, I know I need to keep hit count up, I need to stay in people’s eyes, but I also know that arguing with idiots is pointless. It wastes time, it wastes energy and you get more emotionally involved and drained the longer it goes on.
And part of this I think comes from habits I developed in teaching. Yes I am more than willing to debate the nature of Iago, the personality of Heathcliff, the political implications of Enjolras’ speeches at the barricades, and hear all of my student’s beliefs without taking a side. Probably because I challenged them to back up their points whether I agreed with them or not. But on the few cases where I would have a student say something factually incorrect (or in the very rare case of being something just evil like bordering on anti-Semitism) I would shut that down right there and then. I would have to respond and disprove that statement lest it gets spread.
But for me, and I think for a lot of us who get bogged down in these pointless conversations with idiots, I think we all know the power of ideas, and are worried that if you don’t respond to idiots that we are conceding the argument and that idiots are winning and that their ideas will spread and since ideas have consequences that will end in very, very bad things. But here is where the meditation comes in…
Have faith. People who are open to reason if they stumble upon the idiot’s comments will use reason and see the stupidity. People who are not open to reason will never be open to reason. And pointless bickering will not win idiots or the reasonable.
Whenever you start getting into one of these situations, or at the beginning of each day if you’re like me, repeat to yourself:
I can only be responsible for myself. I have presented my ideas. I have responded to the ideas that are worthy of responding to. I will not engage in a pointless argument that will drag me down. People who are open to the truth will find it, and my being utterly petty will not help them find the truth.
Now for me I’ll still comment on a few of the idiots to keep hit count up, but I’m not going to get dragged into the back and forth of arguing with an idiot as if they’re an equal.