Don’t Engage the Haters

This is a policy I am trying to adopt. A perfect storm of events, issues and ideas seems to be trying to crack open my brain and make me learn a lesson. I’m slow. These things take time.

It’s the little things that irk me, and stupidly, the little things to which I respond. While the wonders of the internet make it easier to engage in dialogue with interesting, smart, funny people the world over, it also increases my chances of encountering some with whom I disagree. The facelessness of twitter and  facebook give us a false sense of anonymity; sometimes we post things we really would do better to keep to ourselves.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Today, I’ve ridden a crazy of wave of thoughts and emotions as I’ve encountered feisty debates about Occupy Wall St., the relative merits of drinking beer after running longer races, and the possible arrogance of baseball announcer Joe Buck. Together with a long week, a Mt. St. Helen’s of laundry, a looming long weekend and the reposting of anti-women sentiment by women and I’m just a mess. And not even a hot one.

There are times when entering or beginning a debate is well advised, even encouraged. Conversations in which there is mutual respect, consideration of opinions and an earnest desire to find common ground: that’s my favorite kind. And then there are the cast-off statements, the veritable drive-bys, by nameless, faceless people. A worthless, aimless snarky comment by someone I don’t know, don’t follow, and sure as heck won’t be following now.

I have some smart friends. These friends have policies for internet replies. One friend who runs a lot and sometimes drinks wine does not engage in conversations about weight or weight loss or diets. Another friend won’t talk about politics. Another God, religion or spirituality. These are smart people; they know the limits of their kindness and goodwill.

I have wondered, in recent months, where opening a debate ends and picking a fight begins. I have wondered if it’s more important to maintain peace or vocalize my opinion. The problem is, I can’t seem to find a hard and fast rule, one that always applies. Strangers might require one set of rules, while family another. Then there is the matter of import. I mean, Joe Buck? Doesn’t matter. The fate of our nation? Kind of a bigger deal. Then again, it’s easier to dislike or praise a sports announcer than it is to walk the line of politics.

What I’m flushing is the compulsion to reply to everything. I am going to let some things ride because. Because I don’t need to engage. Because it’s not important. Because something else is more pressing, or urgent or necessary. This will not be easy for me.

What about you? What are you flushing? What are your policies? Help a sister out.