No, not the song from Frozen – much as I love it – arguing with people on the internet. I’m over it. You know, mostly.
I admit it’s been a problem in the past. On Twitter. On Facebook. In the comments to my blog. In the comments on other people’s blogs. Once – shamefully – in the comments on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free (those people are brutal).
But recently I’ve noticed a change. I see something I don’t agree with. I think about responding. I think about the person I disagree with responding and me having to respond to that and then I think… god, I haven’t got that kind of time.
Sometimes I sit at my desk sort of twitching with the need to tell someone why what they’ve just written is total nonsense. Sometimes I temporarily mute the account and try to forget about it. Sometimes I step away from the internet, make a cup of tea and inhale a packet of biscuits in fury. But sometimes I just… let it go.
One problem is that (sometimes) I feel like it’s sort of my duty to point out to people where they’re wrong. I mean, if I don’t and no one does, then they might go through life being wrong about stuff. All over the place! What if they’re aggressively, offensively wrong? It’s not fair for me not to tell them, is it? IS IT?
And what if – as happened recently – they’re just so stupidly, obnoxiously wrong I can’t bear to let it go? Recently someone on Comment Is Free left one of those ‘I don’t even care about this’ comments the inanity of which wound me up so much that I typed a response in a frenzy of outrage. Then I deleted it. Then I typed it again. A few times. Then I decided to let it go. (I tweeted about it, obvs.) When I looked back at the site later, someone else had explained to the commenter why their comment was so breathtakingly dim and they’d done it more articulately than I would have.
It made me realise that I’m not the only person blinking at something on a screen and resisting the urge to gnaw on the edge of my desk. It’s ok. For every person who is wrong on the internet, there is at least one person who is right. And not afraid to say so. It doesn’t have to be me. Phew.
I wonder if I’m actually growing or if I’m just worn down by the internet. So many arguments I see going round and round and never being resolved at all. And then the same topic comes up again and again and round and round we go and it’s… dizzying. I’m not saying I’ll never comment – sometimes disagreeing with someone (politely) leads to a useful discussion or conversation and sometimes I even, you know, learn stuff. Sometimes it turns out I’m the one who’s wrong. Occasionally. Hardly ever.
I try to remind myself of my friend Erin’s wise advice – I don’t have to be right. I was talking about this recently with a friend who shares my urge to argue, and she said the thing that’s helped her learn to let go is internalising this statement: Intelligent people disagree. I love that. But I prefer Brené Brown’s “You are not a jackass whisperer.”
Maybe I’ve still got a little way to go…