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January 17, 2010

Fallout from Internet arguments

What happened yesterday has brought up one problem I have with Internet arguments that I really wish I could change about myself.  Yet it always seems to pop up even when I try very hard not to let it get to me.

And before I say what that is, I want it to be clear that not all of what I say below is about yesterday.  It's about any argument/discussion/debate that I get into online, where the feedback is not immediate.  This was just prompted by yesterday.

In any argument/debate on the Internet, unless it's in a chat room (in which case, it's the same as if you're speaking, as far my problem is concerned, because the interaction is "real time"), typically it can be minutes, hours, or even a days before the person you're discussing things with is able to respond to what you said.  I have this tendency, and it's something I do on a lot of things, not just discussions, to stew on it in my brain.  To go over and over what was said, what I said, previous responses if this isn't the beginning of the argument, and try to think about what I might have said differently.

That's all well and good, except for the fact that I do it *way* too much, rather than just thinking about it for a bit, and then leaving it until the person responds.  No, I definitely stew.

But what's worse is that I start extrapolating from the point I'm at in the discussion.  I start thinking "what's he/she going to say next?" and then mentally preparing for it.  In cases like yesterday, the responses can only be two things:  positive/accepting or negative.  Yes, the details can differ wildly ("Positive" can range anywhere from "You're right!" to "We'll have to agree to disagree, but I still like you.").  But in general, it's just those two things.

A positive response is great!  That way, we're all on the same page, or at least accepting of our differences and able to move on.  Unfortunately, that doesn't take much preliminary brain power, and thus I don't stew on that response very long.

No, I stew on the possible negative responses, the potential "How could you even think Obama's wrong, you asshole!" or "The Flames are overrated? How can a total loser like you even make any kind of coherent hockey point?" answers tumble over each other in my mind (though obviously those wouldn't be from the same argument).  And then I start formulating my response to these hypothetical responses, getting a bit angry or stressed as my different responses jumble with the other person's potential responses, all congealing into a mish-mash of heated words and ended friendships that have their origins in something that hasn't even been said yet!  And probably never will, as most people are a lot more diplomatic in discussions than what goes off in my imagination.

I also have to say that this doesn't say anything about my opinion of the person I'm discussing things with, as this happens whether the other person is a complete asshole or whether it's somebody who I love dearly but just happen to be on opposite sides of the issue about.  It almost becomes faceless in my head at this point.

As time elapses and there isn't a response, that feeling does eventually go away.  It's most intense right after I've posted my response.  But it's something I would really like to change about myself, and I'm working on doing that.  I don't need something like that adding to my stress.  And I wish I could get rid of that general "stewing" thing completely.  But baby steps.

Now do you see why I don't like discussions that are likely to get heated?


  1. Dave, I appreciate your honesty with this post. If all the rest of us are honest, we ALL do this same behavior to some degree. We just don't take the extra step of admitting to it in public forum.

    I used to allow myself to get sucked into this type of maelstrom of negativity, but eventually I learned that it's just not productive for anyone. Yes, you can get bogged down in endless online discussion threads and beat what is usually a figurative dead horse eternally - no one is going to stop anyone from doing that type of thing. If that floats your boat (not "you" specifically...just that general person out there in cyberland), then great - go for it and have fun!

    I prefer to stick w/ positive interaction. If there's an issue that becomes heated, I say handle it with respect and gracious reply, then END IT. I am of the school that endlessly apologizing, OR expecting the other person to offer endless apologies is a waste of time and energy. ONE APOLOGY IS SUFFICIENT!

    I think we all make mistakes, all bump our noses and will live to do so again - we're human, it's what we do. Your post opened up a topic for discussion that could do some good, and perhaps encourage others to not let themselves fall into the same trap of needing to always be right, always have the last word...or always whatever!


  2. Thanks for the comment, Dawn.

    I usually don't get *too* personal on this blog, but I thought this had to be said. For both the reasons you give above as well as for my own peace of mind.

    Again, baby steps, but every little step helps.

  3. Yeppers! ;-) "...and all is well in the land!" (That's one of my favorite statements, just felt it applied here.)

    ~ Dawn

  4. Meh. You are my cousin and I love you no matter who you voted for. Hope you didn't put a second's worth of thought into how I'd respond to that information. LOL

    Cheer up cous. It would be boring if we all agreed over everything. Though perhaps I'm more use to drama, as my own blog shows.

  5. That could very well be true, Karen! :)

    Because I knew you'd feel that way, you'll be glad to hear that I didn't put a second's worth of thought into it. LOL

    Ok, that sounded bad. :)

    I do care, but I also knew that it wouldn't be an issue, so I didn't have to think about it that much.

  6. Dave, I use to do some of the stuff you have discussed here & I found that I didn't like what it did to me. So what I've done in response is to learn to let it go. I know this sounds easier then it is but trust me with time & practice you can do it. I always allow myself to feel the emotions I'm feeling then I release them because I won't allow them to have a hold over me. Each situation is different so it's hard to say exactly how I do but generally I realize that the discussion isn't that important to make me upset, especially if I like the person. Then I just let the anger go & find the peace that is deep inside me.

    I hope it helps,



  7. Yup, the conversations that I have in my head are usually much worse than how the actual conversation ends up panning out. I'm just really glad that we're all mature, loving people who only want to understand one another in the end. I appreciate your straight-forward approach to your blog, Dave. True directness in the form of honesty is a rare quality, and I think you have it.

  8. Thanks so much, Jenn. That means a lot to me. My conversations with these *phantom* people can be quite vicious, actually, so it's very good that it never actually happens that way.

    Though it feels to me like it's time to post something frivolous. One-hit wonders, here we come! :)


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