Well… those people
are at it again. Their antics get stranger every day. If you don’t know the details of what I’m specifically alluding to here… then you’re one of the lucky ones. But whatever culture war spasm this is a part of seems to be proliferating almost exponentially at this point… and if by chance you ever get caught up in the middle, you are going to get zero sympathy from either side when you claim to not understand what’s going on.
So then… for the people that don’t want to pay any more attention to this weirdness than they have to but who also want to know in a nutshell just what is at the root of all this… here’s a cheat sheet to help you fake your way through whatever kerfuffle is headed your way.
1) Offending them is inevitable. All you have to do is show up to provoke them. That’s all it takes! Don’t take this personally. You’re just not of their tribe, that’s all.
2) Your good nature and naiveté will make you reflexively want go out of your way to make things right. You’ll tell yourself that it only makes sense to give people the benefit of the doubt. And you’ll be wrong. The twenty percent on the other side that first notices you might even seem pretty reasonable. They can probably be convinced that they really did take you the wrong way. Your good act in good faith can satisfy them, they will recognize this, and the middle part of the heard will go along in praising you as a part of their Greek chorus routine. This is the point where you will be patting yourself on the back for being such a mature guy.
3) But then there is that other 20%. They will come along and twist anything and everything you do into the worst light possible. When they are engaged, anything and everything you do only adds fuel to the fire. The middle part of the herd that you thought you had won over then changes direction in accordance with this campaign and the reasonable part of the herd is drowned out. At some point in all of this, you will observe angry townspeople burning you in effigy.
4) And note that this is what the herd lives for. They are not fans of anything other than this sort of drama. If they were, then the majority of what they talk about would be books and games or almost anything else. But that’s not what they are about.
So this is why you don’t waste your time dealing with these people at all. Remember your mission, ignore the haters, don’t feed the trolls, and if you inadvertently end up on their radar… your best policy is to stonewall them no matter what they are saying. If you haven’t sat down and formulated a serious strategy to deal with these people, then you are playing by their rules and playing into their hand. And they will eat you up. So if you aren’t willing to seriously take some initiative, then just don’t play.
If you’re big enough to provoke this kind of attention on occasion, then you’re big enough to be selective in what you respond to. (Think of E. L. James going briefly onto Twitter here if you need an example.) Engaging with these people is not just a waste of your time; it’s actually damaging to you. If you’re a builder and not a fighter, then you want to go around these people. They really exist only to road block you. Keep building, don’t engage, and don’t apologize. I’m not sure what it is about these people, but there’s something about apologizing that just seems to signal to them to cut loose. (“We’ve got a live one, y’all!”) Look, if you’ve wronged somebody, get with them privately, make it right, and keep it private. But if you’re dealing with a mob do not forget that they are going to tear anyone to pieces that looks clueless enough to treat them that way. So just don’t do it.