Attack the Person or the Issue?
I replied to a Facebook post by a friend the other day. Now and then someone asks a good question or begins a discussion on a juicy topic and I'll join the crowd to offer an opinion. I always think about my reply before my fingers are allowed to tickle the keys. Years of experience and lessons from long e-mail chains taught me that. Sometimes the dialogue on FB is interesting and I learn a thing or two and hope I impart a jewel of wisdom once in a while.
The other day a friend started a topic about college education and attached an article suggesting the Government pick up the tab since costs are too high and only the very rich can afford a degree. Good topic. I read a few replies as I thought about my feelings. I opted to go with a bit of history and opined that I put myself through college through hard work, grants and loans that were paid back long ago. I did not envy the "rich kids" and wondered if perhaps I appreciated my degree more than those that didn't have to earn their way. I sat back and waited for more views. Then it hit like a 5 iron to the head. Boom! I was accused of 'stereotyping' because I didn't think rich kids worked for it. Wow. Of course that's not what I said but it doesn't matter. Someone attacked me rather than opining about the topic and I was angry for being attacked and felt foolish for being honest and opening myself up to strangers.
I let the anger drive my behavior and dug into the person who attacked me. I found out he went to Texas A&M and knew he would be such an easy target as I readied my salvo. Fortunately my head got back in the game and stopped the madness before I sunk down to his level. Instead I waited it out and someone else replied to my post with a thoughtful opinion. We were back in discussion mode, Aggie be damned! (Apologies to Aggie's but when you live in Austin ...)
The FB back and fro reminds me of the upcoming presidential election and how too often candidates attack each other rather than the issues. Or worse, reporters who ask set-up questions with an angle to put the candidate on the defensive and off message. I am tired of "gotcha" questions and personal attacks and will be on the lookout for that behavior on FB and during the campaigns. When I see it, I'll call it out and move on. No need to stoop down to a lower level. I'll stay on issue rather than the person and so will my vote.
I like to read and write stories that dig deep into characters and how they respond to challenges.