While talking to friends about their interactions on the internet recently, an interesting subject has arisen – the receipt of discordant feedback, and how best to deal with it.
If somebody takes exception to content you have posted to the internet, should you defend your view, or move on?
I tend to avoid conflict, so will invariably ignore conversations I would rather not have. As entertaining as it might be, the last thing I would want to do on the internet is make an example of anybody else – to draw attention to their views, no matter how flawed I might think they are.
On rare occasions where I feel I cannot let a comment go (as happened recently with a particularly bigoted comment on one of my posts at Medium), I tend to find out a little about the person behind the comment first. If they make a habit of making an arse of themselves then of course they are fair game, but if there is a gulf in terms of culture, faith, or understanding then I am far more careful.
I’m often reminded of a Native American story I heard years ago (hence the title of the post) – I think it’s from the Cherokee people:
An old grandfather was teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
If you search the internet, you will find many re-tellings of the story – with wording changes to suit each author’s narrative. The essence is absolutely true though – the wolf that lives is the wolf you feed.
When faced with views and opinions you did not seek, the best way to deal with them is to deprive their authors of food. Incendiary feedback is invariably posted in pursuit of reaction. Reaction is attention.
I’m also reminded of “The Celestine Prophecy” – a wonderful book that explores the nature of energy in the universe – that interactions between people can be described as transactions. While some might be described as sources of energy, others might be described as consumers. Consumers create “drama” in order to draw from those around them.
Enough soapbox psychology for one day. Time for a cup of coffee.