Sunday, August 02, 2015

FaultFinders Anonymous | Manna for your Soul

I am a writer. 
Yes, that's what defines me. I find writing therapeutic. People who aren't passionate about writing won't understand this
Some people don't share my views and that's fine. I get readers from around the world, and if they don't enjoy my posts they just move on. Or they used to. 
See, I have a real problem with trolls. Complete strangers write utterly mean and disrespectful things about me, or my posts and views. Now, these are the same people who wouldn't dare cross your paths in real-life. The internet is gradually being over-run by faultfinders who seem eager to fight you. Virtually

Proverbs 26: 1-12 gives me the perfect solution to combat these pests - 'Do not answer a fool according to his (her) folly, lest you also be like him (her)...' 
And unless you don't have an online presence, I'm sure you would've faced trolls too. Most people engage them, and this escalates into a full-blown war of words online. Mind you, this wasn't how it was until a few years ago. 

And its not because there is a generation gap. These are the same people who were brought up by respectful parents and were tolerant and respectful online and off when they started using the internet.
And then they discovered the rush they get when they leave a scathing remark designed to provoke. 
Suddenly, I find people more ready and willing to fire and engage. 

Recently a friend and an accomplished writer himself found himself in the midst of being pulled into a war of words. The lady (an American writer herself) was pointing out a typo in an article he wrote and she could have stopped at pointing out the errata. He apologized. But no. She wasn't done yet and said - '.. and you may want to get all your articles proof-read by a native English speaker. Because it is not easy to trust a writer with typos.' Bang! And the ball was back in his court. And this lady had 5 typos/grammatical/factual errors in the Summary of her LinkedIn page.
He could've have fought back but I advised him to thank her for the suggestion and move on, since there is so much at stake here when we engage people who are pressured to find fault in us. Both online and offline. 

When we fight a person online, he/she has the time and luxury of buying time to plan, design and build a comeback. In the meanwhile, trolls bask in the glory of playing to a gallery of (sometimes mute) spectators. But this is not a 2 player game anymore. People may take sides or introduce their fresh perspective into the game. Applause!
Now, this is not what will happen in real-life. 99% of the trolls you find online won't be ready to indulge in lengthy venomous ideological/philosophical debate in person. Not if you are Donald Trump.

While I used to engage trolls online, I no longer do. They are entitled to their views and I mine. I respect the fact that they take the time to read (even though it becomes evident that they didn't read all the way through to the end) and comment. I don't have the time or the vicious fang to pass the venom back. In the beginning it used to bother me that I am not engaging them 'in a befitting manner'. It no longer does. Over time, I've realized this is the best way to deal with trolls and faultfinders  - Leave the game. 

The Bible says 'Nothing you eat can defile your soul. But what comes out of you is what defiles you.'. I've realized the wisdom of these words. 
We take a lot of care to make sure what we eat is right, but not a lot of us are careful of what we say or write online. We have become walking talking fire-breathing dragons, willing to scorch the next person we don't agree with. We need a whole host of rights, but don't think anyone else does. We have evolved into living creatures with an over-sized sense of entitlement - of money, of respect, of opportunities, of space, of individuality, of everything the world has to offer.

Have you trolled someone online today? Stop! 
Have you been trolled by someone today? Resist the temptation and move on. 
Because when we fight back, we expose the chink in our armor. And you wouldn't want the world to see that, would you?

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