This Is Why You Don't Do That

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 16.884% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Yesterday, I posted about an argument I had with Gini.  The nature of the argument was irrelevant to the main point of the post, which is sometimes you need to use external markers to figure out when you’re out of line.
Yet that didn’t stop people from posting comments debating who was right in the argument.
The response was predictable; Gini felt she had to tell her side of the story, and people said, “Oh, I hate it when folks do that,” and Gini claimed she didn’t do that,  and while Gini was a good sport about it she still spent a good five minutes at lunch composing comments on her cell phone because dammit, someone’s wrong on the Internet.
This is why you never public-blog about your arguments.
At least not while they’re live.  Or freshly dead.  Or still rotting.  Basically, you only want to blog about your arguments long after the argument has passed that “stinking dead possum by the side of the road” stage and has passed into the “flat mat of faintly disturbing animal hair that is crawling with ants” stage.  If there’s any doubt at all who’s correct, then shut your yap.
I wrote about this a long time ago in one of my best essays, “I Aimed The Internet At Your Heart,” which talked about how to blog intimate emotions and still avoid emotional drama in your personal life.  What I said then was this:

“When you open up your relationship to the world, you’re calling sides. It’s getting comments from sympathizers, making people feel bad for you, confirming your point of view. Oh, you don’t think that you’re doing that – you’re just trying to get alternate opinions – but you are.
“And your partner will feel slighted. He won’t say as much to you any more, because he knows that your army of friends is against him. Let’s assume that you’re right, and that he is utterly and undeniably wrong. (It’s not very fucking likely, but it could be true.) It’s hard enough to hear that you’re an asshole when you know you are – but how many people are going to listen when a bunch of anonymous people you don’t even know are chiming in with a happy chorus of, ‘God, yes, that guy’s a dickhead?'”

Now, this didn’t do any damage, simply because Gini and I are experienced enough that we knew this would happen.  (And as a purposeful viewpoint exercise, I wrote it full-on from my perspective so you’d see how I felt when I apologized, instead of presenting both sides.  But it would have happened regardless.)  I read the essay to Gini before I posted it, as I do all essays about our arguments (another helpful trick), and she approved.
Yet if it had been something that mattered, well, this would have just exacerbated it. We’d still be fighting.
Here’s the deal: last week, Beavis and Butthead Do America was on, and I Twitter-posted how Gini was crazy because she didn’t think it was a good movie.  Later on, as an experiment, Gini posted how Beavis and Butthead Do America was an awful movie and how I was wrong.  We both got about the same number of replies.
The lesson here is that what will happen nine times out of ten when you complain about something is that the people who agree with you will post “FUCK YES THAT’S ANNOYING” and the people who don’t will wait for another thread.  Who wants to walk into someone’s journal and go, “Hey, you’re wrong here, this is fine” and get beset on by helpful friends?
There are times you may want to ask for help – when you think you’re in a bad relationship, and are considering getting out.  That’s fine.  That’s what friends-locks and filters are for.  (And generally, if you’re asking the question, you know the answer deep down already.)  But if you’re intending to stay, then find some other way to vent.
Because people will have opinions on what you do.  They’re not necessarily right.

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