My wife asked me a question I at first dismissed when I told her about the previous post. I’ll have to paraphrase from memory. But I was telling her about the subject of the post, how I thought folks were wrong to perennially demand Sam Harris’s, or anyone else’s head on a platter when there has been a perceived violation of liberal principle. And she said,
But, aren’t they just people saying stuff…on the Internet?
Well, yes, but come on! Why do we do most of the things we do when we’re part of a political or social movement, or when we have a blog or other platform for opining? We’re trying to affect the broader conversation! To persuade! Influence! Two cents! Etcetera!
She seemed less than convinced, particularly since the price is so often my psychological well-being as I worry about responses and rejections, as I cringe as arguments both good and bad come streaming in from all the social media outlets. (I had disabled comments for the post in question for this very reason of personal well-being. Futile, I know.)
So I revisit her question. Aren’t they just people saying stuff on the Internet? Does it matter, really, if I think lots of people are wrong about how they overreact (in my opinion) to this one guy who is a big boy and can take care of himself?
What is the value of me adding my own high dudgeon?
Few read anything on the Web because they want to have their positions challenged. Likely the result of a post of this sort will be congratulations from those who already agree, and frustration, argument, and potentially abuse from those who don’t. And so it has been. (No abuse yet, but the night is young.) So why bother?
As of this moment, I’m honestly not sure. I mean, I still think I’m right, but I don’t know that I care enough about being right to endure the anger, or feel pressured to start debating with my friends. And this applies to any post or opining of mine that pesters a wasps’ nest of raw feelings.
I do know that a major factor is that in this case and others, I feel a responsibility to help keep this movement on an even keel, fighting the right battles, avoiding the pointless ones, and staying true to what we espouse. When I perceive that not to be happening, I want to flag it, but it’s almost always for naught, either because of the issue’s intractability or my own inability to make a given case in a given post, I or what have you.
So I’ll be thinking about this more, is all.