Everything you do will caused you to be judged by people who see it. No matter who you are. So what? Why do people think they are unique this way?
Hell, there’s a very good chance I’ll be judged for posting this. Possibly even by you the reader. And you should judge people based on the evidence they provided. And then when they provide you with more evidence, you re-judge them. Obviously.
So here’s what I propose. If you are going to post something on the internet, pretend you’re in person. If you would’t do it or say it with someone in person, don’t do it online. Anything public is not controllable. Most people will be kind people unless you’re very unlucky.
If you’re wondering why this is clearly something that is provoking a response from me, it’s because I have Asperger’s Syndrome. No, let me rephrase that. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and have developed fairly good coping strategies for dealing with Neurotypical (read: non ASD individuals, like you know… normal people)
And for you out there who have survived or gone through some trial (read: everyone). The specific trial I’m talking about is the one where you go through much of your life unable to relate to people and in a well-meaning attempt to make friends end up alienating people at random and being unable to tell why.
Why because all of the Normal (read: people who just “get it” when it comes to nonverbal communication) don’t even realize there’s something to get). This is where the few true friends who are able to recognize what’s going on and are kind enough to help you with your situation come in.
Step 1: awareness. Realize people are going to comment on what you do. That’s their right. If (when) they notice something, they will comment on it. If you say it in person, they will let things slide. If you record it, they will have the time to go over what you said and see if it actually makes sense. And uncomfortable as it is, this is actually a good thing.
Sharpening your rhetorical skills is not a bad deal for you. If you constantly make ad hominem attacks in your defense of some greater good you aspire to, rather than dealing with your detractors, people will call you on it.
When they do, they’re giving you an opportunity (generally without realizing it) to make you harder, faster, better, stronger. No one likes receiving correction. Particularly unsolicited correction from people who disagree with us. But if you’re receiving it, there are a few options-
1) ignore it.
2) look at it critically and examine yourself
3) cry about it to friends over a beer, or your beverage/dessert of choice
4) stop posting things on the internet if you don’t like being criticized.
No where here is the option for you to spout off with some opinion and have people just not react. No where is there a “Butters” for you to just get the good comments. Public Space is not Safe Space.
Because we have freedom of association, of course we can set up spaces of like-minded sympathetic individuals to help support us in difficulties. They are friend groups.
That is not what public space is for. If anyone can go there, consider it public. You have no expectation of the following in a public space:
1) privacy – you’re not at home. Pretend everything you are doing is being recorded. It probably will be in a few years anyway, might as well get some practice in now…
2) Safety – some people are assholes, it would be nice if they are and some places are safer than others, but no. if everyone can be there, so can the “bad” people.
3) not having to be confronted with something that offends your sensibilities – in the United States the KKK and the NeoNazis have the right to set up their bullshit stupid protests, but you know what? That means that when conservative christian groups are offended by my swing dancing, I can do that too! It also means that the LGBT+ community have (or should have) the right to have pride parades that offend other people. This is a good thing. Unfortunately that means that sometime you’ll see something you don’t like, maybe even have to have awkward conversations with your kids if you have them. Guess what? That’s what you sign up for when you have kids.
4) freedom from ridicule and criticism – This is awesome. It means that we don’t have to respect other people’s ideas. This is counter-intuitive, but that’s why awesome protests like the “God Hates Figs” counter-protest to the Westboro Baptist Church are allowed.
You might think that someone should do something about this state of affairs. Someone should make it so you don’t have to see something you don’t like. Well, guess what? YOU can do something about it.
What can you do?
Well, you can stay at home and not watch television or be around people who disagree with you of course! You can stay off of the internet, or at least not read the comments section if you do post something.
Alternately, you can take the opportunity to create something you think is special and realize not everyone will agree. Realize not everyone is nice and that sometimes people will be mean to you, or hit on you, or harass you. Does that make your message less valuable because some idiot in podunk, Nowhere was a vitriolic prick? No, of course not.
Use their critique, criticism and hate as selective pressures to sharpen your rhetorical game. Make airtight cases with no fallacious arguments. Engage with criticism of your ideas and realize not everyone is a true-believer. You’ll never win, or win them over if you can’t deal with them as having actual ideas- even if you disagree with them. If you choose to evangelize, then you have to first treat people like they are people.
Plan What you’re going to say before you say it. Yes, this is actually not planned out, but I don’t really care much about that here. This blog is mostly for my rough-draft ideas and my regular writing practice. I’m happy if people read it, but I don’t expect them to. I also don’t expect people to like what i have to say. I fall much more on the “coach” end of the spectrum when it comes to ideas than the “camp counsellor” end. As such, I’ll just speak my current conception of the truth and not try to coddle too much.
What should you not do?
Feed the trolls: Trolls exist solely to mess with your day. They want a rise out of you. They’re mean, often juvenile (both in age and mental maturity level) and they want to make you mad. If you engage with a troll, you lose. Period. They don’t actually care about the thing you care about, they just want to watch the world, or at least your YouTube/Facebook/Twitter account burn.
Turn off the comments: In addition to silencing your critics, you’re silencing your supporters. You may just find there are people who will come to your defense when someone wants to start trouble. This can be a powerful rallying-point for your cause if you just allow it to happen.