Even with good intentions, we still piss each other off

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Last week, I made a lot of people angry. I was angry, I lashed out at them. That was a mistake. In some cases, I was able to smooth things over but in others, I made it worse.

Also, I noticed several people reacted strongly to critique of their fields – cryptozoology in particular, but also against their faith or deeply held beliefs.

Kitty Mervine pointed me to this good piece that shows what I did wrong, what mistake I always make, and the mistakes most of us make when we get mad.

What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review.

As it turns out, it’s not the thought that counts or even the action that counts. That’s because the other person doesn’t experience your thought or your action. They experience the consequences of your action.

So true. And that’s why they get mad. Really mad. The typical response doesn’t help. This is going to take some practice to fix.

Over the past year or so, I realized I don’t like to get into online disputes that will go on for hours or even days. It never gets resolved and just gets worse. So, I’ve made some rules for myself to follow to stop that trigger response to lash out. The first step is to limit contact with people who trip the trigger (often deliberately because, face it, some people thrive on outrage theatre). I’d be all for civil discussion but reading their twitter feed or blogs is just asking for my blood to boil. So I don’t.

Block the trolls, don’t go to their websites, don’t look for them to give you something to chew on. Be careful about engaging. Let stuff go.

Unlike some people who have deliberately gone out of their way to name and shame people for specific things they have done, I’m almost always responding to a problem I have with their claim. Yes, I don’t like the state of amateur paranormal investigation, for example. I dislike the activity. That does not mean I can’t be friends with those who participate in the activity. It’s not personal. But, I try to understand that some people consider these activities to be defining of who they are – they are Christians, they are psychics, they are Bigfoot researchers, etc. So if I or others attack the claim, this essentially equates to attacking them. All I can say is, that’s not my intent but as shown in that piece about getting angry, it’s not about the intentions, it’s about the consequences. I’m trying. Maybe everyone should try harder.

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9 thoughts on “Even with good intentions, we still piss each other off

  1. I guess I missed this round of social media fights, but I’ve never seen you write something so nasty and mean that someone should be angry about it. It really take two to start a fight.

  2. Graham

    Sadly it’s getting worse, I’ve seen sites putting up messages that ‘Skepchik’ is the only source for ‘real skepticism’. This is going to get worse before it gets better, if at all.

    • idoubtit

      Graham: Who does this? Curious. Because it’s nonsense. Skepchick has done barely ANYTHING skeptical in a very long while. They are all about feminism and stoking the drama, no actual meaningful work IMO.

      • Graham

        The owner of a blog called “Spirituality is No Excuse” (I’m not linking to the page, as they do not deserve the hits.). Apologies in advance for the quote mining.

        Quote 1: “Go ahead, debunk dowsing all you want, write about Why Other People, Not Me, Believe Weird Things… Go on, have your pathetic tiny minded smug little careers.”

        Quote 2:

        “Skepchick is a good place to start to get a picture of what is going on here, as well as being an excellent all round resource for skepticism.”

        As far as I am concernced PZ Myers did what he did out of pure malice

  3. gewsin

    Thank you for the link to the Bregman piece. That will be helpful in Every area of life. I’m learning to start with some form of, “I’m sorry. I screwed up.” Then I stop talking. The injured party (regardless of what I think about whether he should feel injured) wants to tell me about the impact, and anything I say, including more apology, just delays and deepens his need to elaborate on that impact. Once he is done, then I can apologize again and explain how I’m going to avoid that action (or at least the impact) again.

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