It’s one of those things that keep you awake at night. Just as sleep threatens to seduce you, you remember that phrase that so offended and your mind (completely blank at the time the words were uttered) springs to life.
You construct a script worthy of The West Wing as witty retorts zing through the night air – kapow! The verbal slap-down that could have/would have/should have been so satisfying.
I’m sure this has happened to all of us at some stage.
The friend-of-a-friend at a party who is not a racist, but…
The colleague who believes in women’s equality (even the phrase makes me shudder), but …
The statement that begins with, “This is just my personal view…”, somehow abrogating any offence because, after all, who can argue with a ‘personal view’? Funny how few of us feel empowered enough to state our ‘personal view’ that the person speaking is a complete knob.
While such nocturnal pondering is nothing new, over the past few years the rules have started to change.
Many of us now conduct quite lengthy online conversations on topics ranging from the latest recipes to heated political debate. Suddenly, the well-planned, reasoned response is possible.
But does this make it a good idea? Is it worth responding to all the tossers who publish their ignorance with the pride of a ten-year-old farting?
Some issues almost persuade me to put finger to keyboard and respond. The most obvious is the comments found on Andrew Bolt’s blog (something I feel I have to read for work. Know thy enemy and all that). Then there are the openly vile statements as a result of this pic.
With this one I think it is perhaps better to sigh and move on.
Two quotes spring to mind when considering whether to respond or not.
One is from US comedian and writer George Carlin: “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
The other from civil rights leader Rev Dr Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
So which do you agree with? Have you ever responded online? Was it effective?
I’ve only ever really been sucked into an online stoush once but I really got sucked in. People were being racist and it gave me the shits but I ended up playing the body rather than the ball and getting petty. Yes, I am guilty of picking apart someone’s grammar. At that moment, I knew I’d lost and it became all about the detail rather than the actual topic. I knew to cut my losses though, even though it rankled that the doofus I was arguing would have thought he won. I lived. I learned. Never again.