You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.
This is especially important advice in today’s world of social media. I was involved in a long Facebook post this morning about a prickly subject. There were a lot of calm, civil comments with a lot of points of view, and the poster very kindly clarified her stance at least three times. Two of the commenters didn’t get it, and they kept getting more passionate about their point, which wasn’t really even relevant to the conversation. I tried to lighten things up with a “what if” scenario, and they turned on me. That’s when I realized I had a choice: I could try to clarify my point, or I could hide the post. Hold ’em, or run?
Here’s the thing. You can have a valid, well-thought-out view on any subject. As soon as you express it, your opinion bumps up against your listener’s paradigm and is filtered through their experiences and prejudices. You can control what you say and how you say it, but you can’t control how it’s heard. It’s even harder with written communication because we can’t write sarcasm. (Personally, I think it’s a travesty that in 2017 there is not a universally recognized sarcasm font. Or Rosie The Robot, but that’s a subject for another day.)
In the end, I turned off notifications and hid the post. It was heading south at an alarming rate, and there was nothing else I could say, even when I pointed out they’d made my point for me. Sometimes people need to vent. Allowing a stranger to vent on me is a boundary I’m not willing to relax. Some people can do it and let it roll off their backs. I’m not one of them. That stranger would still be living rent-free in my head this weekend.
Standing up for your beliefs is admirable. But sometimes, you have to know when to run.