I was thinking of a lot of things to write while I was driving the kids to school today. Or mostly on the way home from driving them to school. One of those things is the realization that I don’t have to answer everybody. I don’t have to engage everybody who wants to engage. I don’t have to expose myself to their anger or defend my position.
I like to discuss most anything with people. Odd stuff like is corn really just a huge grass? And hard topics like religion. I try to put myself in their position, in their point of view, and try to find the truth or fallacy in it and why they would even think it to begin with. I also like to search what I believe and see if there is any truth to their claims, if there is any way my beliefs are inconsistent or faulty. That is, to see the error in my thinking. Many times my beliefs have been honed by people of different faiths (or no faith) asking honest questions. But, I don’t owe every opinion that much consideration. Especially on the internet.
When talking to people one on one I will go places I won’t go on the internet, assuming there is a relationship with the person I’m talking to. Strangers, not so much. The lesson I’ve learned on the internet is be very very particular about what conversations I engage in. Not that I think someone is going to trick me out of my beliefs – but often those internet discussions are less of a discussion and more of an avenue of anger for someone. They don’t really want to talk religion, they want to tell you they hate religion. Okay. Thank you for sharing. But that’s not a conversation.
Yeah, I can get snarky, too. And yeah, sometimes I can’t resist a nice dig. Which is another reason why internet discussions don’t work well for me. They can’t see my expression when I poke fun (it’s playful, I promise!). And I can’t see whether they are the kind of person who wants to play a little during heavy stuff. Fair enough. And if I dish it out, I need to be able to take it. There again, a relationship is key to this, because even a little wink symbol at the end of a sentence doesn’t always work if I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Discussions can feel too much like win or lose. Life or death. Everybody is upset. Everybody is offended. Everybody hates. Even me. And I don’t like it when I hate.
And so I relish the fact that I am free to pass on the angry stuff. I don’t have to defend my faith, faiths of the world, or God himself. He’s big enough to fight his own battles. Maybe there are those who are made to be strong voices of faith in the internet world. I’m not one of them. I’m learning as I age I really am a lover not a fighter. My world of work is to be nurturing and respectful and yes, nice. I want to be nice and I like nice people. (Nice, by the way, isn’t vanilla, it’s damn hard work.)
So I am willing to discuss any topic with anybody who honestly wants to have a real conversation. And I’ll forgive the occasional dig, as long as you forgive mine. But if you only want to tell me what you hate, I’ve got other things to do.