Maybe I’m just too sensitive. I accept that as a possibility. But there is a thing that happens from time to time among like-minded folks that seems both intentional and counterproductive. If you think I’m out of line, ignore this. If you agree, help me stamp it out.
Here is what I’m talking about:
Someone might say “We need air to breathe in order to live” and someone else might say “We also need food and water” and then a third person might say “But what about love” and a fourth person might say “Live isn’t worth living without candy and ice cream.” Does any or all the added comments mean the first statement was somehow wrong or incomplete?
No, it doesn’t. It was narrowly focused, a perfectly proper option when making a statement in a limited space, and not writing a definitive work on what it takes to be able to live. Other people were just offering their additional thoughts to expand on the original idea, the very thing you want in a social setting of any kind, including on-line social media.
But that’s quite often not what I see on-line. Instead of just offering more info in an additional viewpoint, some commenters seem to strive toward making the original poster wrong by way of omission. “What you said is not convincing because, without what I just said, your words are pointless.” In civil discourse, among like-minded folks, intellectual one-upmanship should not be a goal. Most often, when it happens to me I try to ignore it. But I admit it aggravates the crap out of me: you agree with my point but your point is required to make my point valid.
Your point is not required!
It may be helpful, insightful, but not required.
I certainly will occasionally make mistakes, misspeak unintentionally, or not understand an issue as well as I think I do. At times like those I need to be set straight and will admit being wrong, if I learn that I am.
But, my stated point, no matter how narrowly focused -- if it is true -- is valid, whether or not additional associated info is added to the conversation. Add your thoughts; I encourage it, but don’t imply I’m wrong because I did not include every possible consideration in my statement.
I expect to be harassed by my political foes. I’m partisan … and about as far right as you can be; I’m to the right of President Trump, Ronald Reagan, my current heroes Ted Cruz and Trey Gowdy, and probably every politician you know. If you disagree with my political views, do your best, or your worst, in your discourse with me about politics; I can handle it, even though “handle it” may just mean ignore you, mute you or block you, depending upon available options.
But if you agree with me on a particular original comment I have made, please don’t belittle my accurate and focused statement (assuming it is those things) by saying or implying it is incomplete without your thoughts. You can add your thoughts without diminishing mine. If we are on the same side of an argument, let’s show that in how we interact with one another.
We have serious political enemies on the political left who need to be soundly defeated. We won’t agree on everything but let’s not make unnecessary trouble for ourselves, among ourselves, when we do agree. Let us focus our political rhetorical efforts on our real political enemies: the hard-core political left.
What do I expect the result of this article will be? Not much, other than unburdening my mind of some pent-up aggravation. But I can hope that a few readers might see the point I’m making and try to consider how their words might sound to a like-minded person whose only on-line goal is to share thoughts with others of common views, for whatever value the sharing of those thoughts might have.