“This is the last time I’ll argue on the internet”
This is what I tell myself at least on a weekly basis after getting into it with someone I don’t even know either on Facebook or Twitter.
The person on the other side of the screen might be random, but the topics usually aren’t. I’m a staunch defender of science, dietary health, and trans rights. But, being so vocal about it has led to plenty of online scuffles that have left me feeling like absolute crap — the kind that has been digested multiple times in a cow’s stomach.
Logically, I know there are no winners. No one is going to change their mind because of what I’ve said and I’m not going to change my mind. But I can’t stop myself.
When did I decide it was my personal responsibility to educate the masses?
When did I put that weight on myself?
I like to believe the best in people. I try to believe that somewhere there is good in everyone.
But when I see someone defending false information that could end someone’s life or I see someone denying the basic human rights that they take for granted to a transgender person, I’m so eager to take up the sword. Though it’s not my responsibility and it’s not going to do any good.
I’ve been insulted, had my intelligence belittled, even had a death threat or two. But, I don’t have the strength to walk away from these pointless arguments.
As a highly emotional person, my heart tends to take control in most situations. A fiery passion wells up inside me that I can’t control and the blaze is ready to take down anyone who stands in my way.
But I’m the one left standing in the wreckage. When everything is burnt to a crisp, so am I.
I can’t change what anyone else has said; I can only change the way I respond. I’m as much of a stranger as they are to me, but now we are villains in each other's stories. Instead, why can’t I be the hero in my own and stop my self-destructive tendencies?
What kind of person do I need to be to let myself walk amongst the naysayers and the people who want to spread hatred and lies and be at peace with my own understanding of what it means to be a loving and caring person?
What kind of person do I need to be to know when to stand up and when to be silent because the choice to always stand is slowly killing me?
What kind of person do I need to be to uplift voices who need to be heard, uplift the objective truth, uplift love and kindness instead of harsh words?
The person I need to be, practices kindness in all its forms to everyone; meeting toxic rhetoric with openness; spreading care and knowledge to gently drown out the misinformation.
I don’t want to stop standing for what I believe to be right, but I can’t keep engaging in something that is slowly eating me alive. I can’t engage with people who know nothing but the comfort of what privilege has blessed them with.
Maybe I have this secret — perhaps not so secret — desire to be right. But, can I be right with myself? Can I know what is right in my heart and let that be enough?