I’m Not Kind To Them Because They Deserve It

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

People are frequently dickish, snappish, and snide at me online. And I used to go after them like hungry barracuda, matching them assholery for assholery, dismantling all of their talking points with cold logic and a dollop of gratuitous insults.

But about three years ago, I started to realize that “being an angry asshole” wasn’t necessarily positive for me.

What I discovered is that I didn’t feel good about taking people apart – partially because periodically I’d misread someone and blast an innocent with an fiery salvo, but also because pummeling someone all day made me feel like the only difference between me and them was a more correct point of view.

So… I cut down. Which is not to say that I won’t enter into the occasional snark-on-snark combat, but in general I try to respond with some level of courtesy and civility.

Note: this is not because they deserve civility – these folks are overwhelmingly from the “fuck your feelings” crowd, barging in to douse everything with a gasoline can full of ill-formed sarcasm. As with so many things in life, you only deserve civility if you give civility.

And it’s not because I believe in some ill-formed idea of “politeness.” Most “politeness” prioritizes appearance over substance in toxic ways – which, as has been noted by a wittier person than I on Twitter, “Law school class professionalism means I can’t say ‘Fuck’ in class but salmon-shorts Chad can say ‘Slavery was a necessary evil.’” What should be offensive is the opinions you present, not the way you present them.

But what I’ve discovered personally is that raining doom on someone’s head generally isn’t soul-settling for me. We become what we pretend to be, and for me, emulating someone’s shitposting has personal costs – it makes me more wound up, more tense, and certainly less forgiving of myself.

So I am kinder. Not because they are worthy people. But because being kinder to them allows me to be kinder to myself.

And that’s a solid concept to keep in mind, even if it’s not for everyone.

Particularly when, you know, prominent politicians who have tried to do me personal harm are now deeply sick.

There was a whole debate on Twitter about whether it was “right” to celebrate Trump’s illness, and most of it seemed to boil down to “We must be better than them.” Which, you know, fuck that – I’m sick of Democrats playing softball when Republicans have gone well past hardball and are just chasing the outfielders down to break their legs with baseball bats.

A lot of that “calming the waters” talk is encouraged by families that prioritize harmony over harm – “Oh, grampa doesn’t mean it when he says you’re going to hell, be nice, hug him and tell him you love him.” That’s an approach that stops vicious actors from ever suffering consequences for their shitty behavior, which means – you guessed it – more shitty behavior.

And Trump has attempted to harm me. I have a preexisting condition, a heart problem, and removing protections for that – as he has actively, and consistently, tried to do – is saying, through very polite and formal laws, “If you can’t afford insurance, we don’t care if you die.” Likewise, there’s trans friends of mine who can’t go to the bathroom, and gay friends of mine who he’s tried to undermine their marriage, and everyone who’s in lockdown because of COVID…

The political is personal, unfortunately. And don’t tell me that Trump and any other conservative politician don’t deserve anger, because these motherfuckers have endangered us personally. Pretending otherwise is an insult.


For me, wishing someone outright malice does not make me kinder to the friends around me – it trains me to encourage my hatred more than my love, which makes me quicker to fury. So even though I think that Trump does valiantly deserve any misfortune brought upon him, I personally don’t celebrate his illness.

And anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t is, probably, some mealy-mouthed motherfucker who prizes nice words over substance. If Trump’s angered you, well, you probably have some personal reasons at this point in our collective plague-fueled nightmare. You’re right to let it rage.

But being right is not necessarily the same thing as being healthy. Sometimes, you look at your anger, decide it’s not the productive sort of anger that drives you to the polls, and is instead the self-destructive anger that leads you to endless doomscrolling and shitposting.

And if it is the case that the anger you feel is personally harmful, remember, you do not have to encourage that anger within yourself – even if someone utterly, completely, deserves your rage, your personal well-being is more valuable. Take a walk. Pet a dog. Drink a glass of good wine.

Sometimes, you’re kind not because your enemies are deserving of kindness, but because the person you naturally are gets deformed by too much rage. And if that’s the case, you’re not betraying the cause by refusing to celebrate their demise – you’re just nourishing yourself.

They may in fact deserve everything that’s coming to them.

Just make sure you don’t hurt yourself giving it.

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