I have one very simple rule when it comes to arguing with people on the internet—I don’t do it. It’s a time suck and it does nothing whatsoever to advance me or my mission.
Of course, I talk to people online the whole time. I try to respond to every comment on this site, plus every Tweet, email and Facebook message I get. The internet is a social space, and we’re all sharing things, so that’s totally cool.
I also don’t mind when people disagree with me. Why shouldn’t they? I have a point of view and so do they. Just because I write something here doesn’t mean it’s correct. People are welcome to express their opinions and I’ll answer them. I might even end up changing my own view.
That’s healthy and it’s part of the reason we are all online in the first place.
What I avoid doing these days is getting into long, protracted fights with people about arcane points. There’s no benefit in it and it doesn’t serve me or my readers.
If we disagree on something that fundamentally then it’s likely we’re never going to agree. So perhaps I’m not the ideal writer for you to be following. That’s OK: there are plenty more out there.
There are coming up for four billion people online in 2018. I can’t appeal to all of them, and I wouldn’t want to either. All I can do is set out my stall for those who are interested. There is little value in me getting into huge rows with people who dislike my style, or think I’m wrong about this or that. How does it help either of us?
The other thing is that I’m very much playing a long game as far as content creation is concerned. Once I’ve written one article then I’m on to the next. When I’ve published a book I’m already working on the follow up. My stance on things is already out there. So while I’m happy to get into debate with people to a certain extent, I will cut it off after a point unless we are having a discussion that seems like it could be beneficial in some way.
But generally this is not the case. The internet is one big Rorschach test. People come to it with their ideas, fears, frustrations and prejudices. Sometimes they will drive these home aggressively. In many cases it’s not about reaching a consensus at all, simply cheap point-scoring and one upmanship.
In the past I’ve got into my fair share of online bustups. These days I’d rather simply agree to differ and move on. My overall mission is more important to me than winning an argument with a person I’ve never met, after all.
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