I walked to the grocery store and back this morning and there’s a pretty significant population of small annoying dogs in my neighborhood. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, but… The Yorkie population around here is beyond irritating. They hang out on apartment windows in the lower floors of buildings barking for everything and anything. All. The. Time.
It’s okay though, they’re dogs. Dogs bark at things. It’s how they function.
My point is that, some people I’ve encountered this past few weeks, both online and in the real world, are a lot like those dogs. Anything that moves a bit too abruptly into their territory is a threat, is the enemy, even if in reality it’s just someone passing through minding their own business.
On the internet, of course, it’s worse. I’ve only been actually called a troll once. You guys might have witnessed that or not, but I’m not naming names or posting links… I’m beyond done. The point is, despite not having been called a troll before this occasion I know it’s not the first time people have thought it of me. I can tell when someone thinks I’m trolling them when, on my end, I’m just trying to make a point or make sense of theirs. I’m not going to say that I blame (all of) them for the paranoia, because it’s the internet and people can be assholes, but there’s something to be said about responding to everyone expecting the worst from them. Getting defensive towards everyone and everything just in case someone actually attacks you. I’ve gotten people defensive both on comment sections and real life for asking or saying things I deemed simple and innocuous such as “I don’t understand. Why do you think that?” or “I disagree with this particular statement.” or simply, God forbid, expressing a different or opposing opinion on something they’ve said.
I like debating things and I honestly believe that a person’s ability to become a great friend depends in great part on how they disagree and how they argue with you. I disagree with my friends quite a bit. Using the example of someone you guys know I love to bits and have seen me interact with… Sarah and I disagree about stuff all the time. Pretty sure in one comment section in the blog there’s a bit of us debating whether a hole is still a hole once you’ve filled it with something. I’m not gonna look for it, but I tell you that went on for a bit longer on Skype and we never reached any form of agreement on it. And why bother arguing about a hypothetical hole? Because… I don’t know, stuff happens sometimes. But no one blocked anyone, no one insulted anyone, and our virtual marriage remains intact. And yes, that’s a trivial thing, but it’s a real life example silly enough that it might have actually been hypothetical. lol
If you’re thinking “Oh well, but you’re already friends.”, well, that’s true, BUUUT… We weren’t friends our whole lives, we met and we weren’t friends. We met and I was (somewhat of) an authority figure in an online group she planned to join. I mentioned before how easily roleplayers make things personal when you want to edit their characters however necessary it may be for the plot. You never know, when you suggest edits to a RPer’s character whether or not you’re ‘criticizing’ someone’s baby. Her even joining the RP and we even becoming friends to begin with rested solely on how we would both handle that early stage of admission.
I learned in all my years of running this RP series that it takes a special brand of crazy to work with us. It takes someone whose plans you can completely shatter and they’ll be excited about all the new possibilities instead of crying over the little pieces like a bitch. Kind of like when Luckas laughs at people trying to break his face with their fists (or chairs). It’s not sane behavior, at all, but it can be a valuable survival skill.
A lot of good writers didn’t get in the RP, or left it halfway through, because they couldn’t handle that scenario. Whether they blamed us, or at least me, for it is unclear, but either way I believe they missed out. Likewise, it worries me how high up people keep their walls when someone disagrees; afraid of turning things into an argument, because they can be missing out.
Arguing doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it is possible to do it respectfully, it is possible to learn from it, it is possible to make friends this way. I have. There are assholes and trolls and bullies everywhere. There are. But if you react to everyone and everything as if they were the absolute worst you can encounter at all times without as much as giving it a shot, people will look at you and see you the same way I see those Yorkies in the window…. Like a motion activated annoyance.