If you follow this blog, or any of my social media, you know that recently I’ve been posting quite a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement and associated social justice issues. The response has been, in a word, mixed. For every two validating, uplifting comments made in solidarity, I also get one comment comprised entirely of racist garbage.
I used to be incensed by the racist garbage, and would feel like I needed to take it to the mat and defend my honor. But over the last couple of months, I’ve just stopped giving a shit. People spout the most vile racism and sure, sometimes I’ll still block them because I don’t feel like reading it, but I’ve completely stopped having an emotional reaction.
Now, it’s possible that the sudden uptick in frequency just desensitized me to racial abuse. But I think it’s a little more likely that I’ve finally just grown up enough to stop caring what idiots think.
You see, I never used to be the kind of person that could just walk away from an argument. I worried way too much about the impression I left on someone by disagreeing with them, and felt like I had to definitively prove that I was right to do so. And I couldn’t stand the thought that someone else believed I was wrong about something, when I knew that I was correct about it. I thought it was SO important to reach a point of understanding where I didn’t look like an asshole or an idiot to the other person, and so I used to really dig in trying to get people to understand my point of view and capitulate in accordance.
A complete waste of time, I’ve since realized. Most arguments are not worth having.
So now, instead of getting into a pointless argument over pointless nonsense, I just think to myself, “nah, I know that I’m right, this person is an idiot,” and get on with my day. (That’s not to say that everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot, just that I finally learned how to ignore them when they are.)
The main thing that helped me get to this point is a saying I picked up on the internet, that I’ve been applying to my personal relationships for a couple of years now: “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.”
I think that’s really a beautiful sentiment. If you think someone doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about, why on earth would you take it to heart when they talk about you, right?
So, I’ve since started applying the same principle to getting into arguments. If someone says something that reveals they’re an idiot, and I realize that I don’t care what they think in general, then I sure as shit shouldn’t care what they think of me. And if I don’t care what someone thinks of me, why fight with them? I only ever got into debates to protect my reputation, so not caring about someone’s opinion of me makes that pretty moot.
My mom always used to tell me to “pick my battles,” and I never really understood what she meant. But looking at it in terms of “pick whose opinions you care about,” now I think I get it. Realizing that I don’t actually care what an idiot thinks was the little push I needed to realize that I don’t have to engage with them, and it’s a much more harmonious state of being.
I wish all of you the best of luck in ignoring the idiots in your life.