The power to not
That post you just saw online? You know, the one that:
- Maligned an idea or a cause that’s important to you, or
- Spewed hatred toward an entire race/religion/gender, or
- Lazily trolled you or your community, or
- Outright lied about something, or...
Yeah, that post.
The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to just not engage. Leave it alone. Go look at something else that’s nice instead, and forget about it.
The urge to engage can be overwhelming. It’s normal to want to respond—to correct a mistruth, to set the record straight, to defend a point, or to just add words of strength and courage in the proximity of hate and negativity. But it’s really best that you don’t.
I’ve seen countless internet arguments in my lifetime: flamewars, trolling, vitriol, you name it. I’ve watched good people try to reason with instigators, and each time those good people find themselves pulled down to the level of their opponents. I’ve seen the kindest and most well-intended people temporarily turned into versions of themselves that they would never recognize after joining a fight that never had any chance of yielding anything productive. Nobody learned anything new, no minds were changed, nobody won anything. It’s pointless, every single time.
When you respond, your noble intentions lead you to believe that you’ll counteract the noise with something nicer. But in the end, you’ll just wind up amplifying the noise. And you’ll never feel better afterward.
So the next time you come across one of those posts, please, just leave it alone. Instead of investing effort in trying to do something about it, exercise the much more valuable power of not engaging at all.