As a historian, dialogue – discussion is vital for us to hear other perspectives and gain insight, but being involved on social media shows how difficult this can be. After years online on different platforms, I have come to find that reasonable exchanges are extremely rare. In fact, they can be almost impossible to have.
Today was another example when sharing about Polish history, as I do because this is my specialty; my daughter was attacked. Something like this obviously can elicit anger and emotion, and one may want to retaliate with some cruel words, but this is a time to pause and block that person. Exchanges like this paint humanity in a rather ugly picture. When there is a disagreement, instead of explaining why with a rational explanation, we are just insulted by the person.
This behavior is not uncommon now. I am saddened and shameful how we have progressed like this. Indeed history and politics intertwine, but what I post is usually just about the past and honoring victims. There have been many attacks on me and the Polish people in vile and absurd manners, as I am sure this happens with any group. I am just more familiar because this is the history I cover.
I am sure whatever is posted online today may offend someone. I could post a picture of an apple, and I may come across a staunch apple hater and enrage them. Everyone is offended these days, and I guess they feel it is their right, and they use that right by “offending” you in turn. This pattern is a vicious cycle.
However, the topic of this article deals more with engagement online and how I have learned to respond. After all the years, I can tell the reader that my recommendation is to block people if they start insulting, demeaning, or criticizing you at all – from the start. It is not worth dealing with some people. This piece is not about blocking family members and long-term friends because I think that may take some deep thought, but others can get you just as worked up and take up your precious time and headspace if you allow them to do so.
You must think about it as if you are inviting someone into your home – your living room, and some people will camp there if you let them. Before even giving them a chance they want, deny them the opportunity. I don’t even use the tactic of not responding anymore because people will go out of their way to stalk you. Suddenly, they will appear with some comment, or I even receive threatening personal messages. They can even find your personal information via your profile; it’s not worth it considering the psychopathy of some individuals. Can you imagine all over different opinions about history?
I believe there are people so egotistical and miserable that they will spend all of their time trying to belittle others while somehow “winning” their argument. Most of these people have probably burned all of their real-life bridges in their quest to prove how supreme they have now taken to social media. I honestly feel sorry for these people. I once wrote that, and Facebook restricted me. That is how they monitor the platform… Apparently, that offended someone.
I want to add that there are people who will go out of their way to outrage you to elicit a response. If they can do this, they will report you to Facebook for “bullying,” and Facebook has extremely subjective rules about this when censoring. Indeed, bullying can be anything. Being offended goes along with being sensitive, irrationally so. Engaging on Facebook, I have to be careful about how I word what I write so it can in no way be taken as “offensive” to someone because that can be used to censor me then.
It is a monumental waste of time trying to convince anyone of anything, especially if prejudice or ignorance blinds them. Regardless of how factual your argument may be, it doesn’t matter to some people. I have been accused of forging historical documents to further my cause. This is a case of how irrational some people may be. Individuals cannot be swayed even if they are provided with a written firsthand account of the past
Whatever delusional mindest they are in, any form of truth proposed to them when they will not see it is useless. I have wasted enormous energy trying to provide insight into something I found important, and it was all worthless and, in fact, often backfires. You may find yourself in this position, and it is better to quit now instead of banging your head and pursuing something that will not work.
In these times, sometimes, one may witness a post so farfetched that they may feel they have to say something. Doing so is really up to you, but I find that only stirs the pot, and your response will probably not change anything; it will make things worse. I scroll through most posts, not getting engaged no matter how illogical they are.
I understand that sometimes we feel obligated to do our civic duty when we see a post that can be damaging, but I have to remind myself it is worth it. Am I willing to take the chance of getting drawn into something that may take time and effort to respond to?
We are brought up taught that we must stand up for what is right, but perhaps this is meant for a different scenario or in a different case when we can truly make a difference. We are also taught to choose our battles, which may be the situation here. We would be wise to follow that advice. What do we value in our life? Being happy or being right?
Spending my days engaged in an arena of futility is not for me and certainly should be something you may want to consider avoiding as well.