I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (and was mildly fond of the “No year’s resolutions” heading in the current Cites & Insights, but sometimes an exception is in order. I actually made this resolution in December, but setting it down may help to remember it:
Don’t attack the person, attack the message (if I must attack at all).
That’s the easy part. The hard part:
When someone demeans me, uses slanderous labels, writes in a generally abusive or belittling manner in order to avoid actual discussion–don’t respond in kind.
Ignore the nonsense if possible. If it happens more than once or twice, ignore the person entirely.
Assuming this is all happening in the world of blogs and lists, one of four things will happen:
1. People will recognize that the other person is being abusive and the other person will be treated appropriately. (Least likely.)
2. The other person will burn out or at least change. Being abusive is its own punishment. Divas (of either set) don’t last long, in general. (Considerably more likely.)
3. Nobody will notice or care, and the other person will continue to thrive and prosper. The answer to which is, “Nobody ever said the world was fair.”
4. I’ll recognize that the other person was right to dismiss my argument, even if wrong to dismiss it through undermining rather than through counter-argument. (Not at all unlikely!)
I’ve used this resolution in most cases in the past, and it’s saved sleepless nights and a fair amount of anger. Making it universal is tougher, but probably worth the necessary restraint. There is a shorter version, more applicable as one passes various decade marks:
“Life’s too short.”
With that, happy new year. We marked our 28th anniversary with the usual brunch (avoiding our house during three hours of a five-hour power outage, our mild version of Northern California’s semi-annual New Year’s Flooding), and I’m looking forward to the new year.
Oh, and Seth, if it wasn’t obvious: That comment was my unlikely-to-be-kept resolution, and I still don’t use emoticons.