Killing them with kindness

This Twitter conversation embodies why I try to remain polite in my online interactions. If this inspires one person to be nicer online, then I will consider this worth my time.

Last week I had an interesting conversation with @NukeTheWha1es (Hereafter to be known as NTW) on Twitter. I had a previous discussion with NTW that same day, but it wasn’t as memorable as this one.

I’ll admit this one started because I was stalking his Timeline looking to see if he was online because if I recall correctly, it seemed he was avoiding answering a question of mine and I wanted to see if he really was, or if he was just offline. I try to do this because nothing irritates me more than having my mentions plugged up with impatient tweets like “Well?”, “No answer?”, “Run away?” When in reality, reality just called and I was unable to be online at that time. Ergo, I try not be annoyingly impatient to others.

That brings me to the first tweet I sent him:

It was snarky, I know, but my point was that NTW’s comment was not in line with the Christian teachings of love and tolerance. In fairness, a lot of Christians don’t practice this teaching, but that’s for another time.

NTW then came back with this witty retort:
You’re probably already guessing that the rest of the conversation was similar to this. You’d be right…and wrong. Keep reading, you’ll see what I mean.
I admittedly baited him with my response:

I wanted to see if he’d actually make a threat. I wasn’t disappointed, NTW took my bait hook, line and sinker:

Once again I took him back to his own Christian teachings with my response. I included a screenshot of his tweet in my response in case he deleted his tweet like some keyboard warriors do. I don’t actually find it funny – Ha Ha – when Christians resort to violence, it’s more like a funny – irony alert – humor.

His response actually confused me:

I did my best interpreting what he meant and posed another question I felt he needed to think about.

This actually marks the turning point of the conversation. You can tell by his response that he’s starting to realize how he’s acting isn’t very cool, but he’s still not willing to give up yet..

It did give me an opportunity to use a new meme I had created. Not my best work by any means, as I was trying to figure out how to use the app Assembly.

Funny enough, he tried to blame everyone else for his trollish behavior.

No way was I going to let him pass the buck like that:

He seemed to get my point and I’d say he took it to heart. This is now the obvious turning point in the conversation, his words are no longer confrontational and it’s now an actual conversation.

He made a good point, but it was one he hadn’t been living up to in this conversation. I changed my wording slightly as well, instead of directing them at him, they were now more generalized. Taking it away from being personal makes it easier for people to think about what is being said, or at least I think it does.

I respect NTW for being willing to change his views and admit he was wrong. Its a very rare occurrence on Twitter:

I think a lot of people on the Internet don’t think enough (I know, I should just stop there) about how their words and behavior will affect how people perceive them and the groups they’ve associated themselves with. I know some simply don’t care, but many talk about hating a stereotype and then, like NTW here, go and be the stereotype. In this case, NTW was being the violent, threatening Christian stereotype that many atheists associate with al Christians. I don’t buy into that stereotype, just like I don’t by the “Angry Atheist” stereotype.

More respect for NTW for realizing his error and taking the time to self-reflect enough to see and admit why he acted like he did.

This lets me use one of my all-time favorite memes that I have made. I know I didn’t create the core message of this meme, that no one is perfect, but I’m pretty sure I coined the Yodaspeak version. Feel free to steal and use it.

Beyond the meme, I also had a good point, spread between two tweets, about how we as individuals are responsible for the society we live in and changes we want to see in society start with ourselves. Pretty profound for a guy that likes farts jokes as much as I do.

Isn’t this refreshing? NTW went from calling me a sissy and threatening me with physical violence to hoping we can talk again in a respectful manner. THIS.

This is why I do everything I can to keep my cool and remain patient with the people I interact with on Twitter. I get regular comments and much praise for my “super-human patience” and this conversation is the epitome of why I do that. This could have easily been just one more Twitter flame war, and while I am going to take most of the credit, NTW’s deserves his fair share as well for being willing to tone down his own aggressiveness and being willing to undergo self-reflection in the middle of a discussion.

This is something very few people are capable of doing. It’s why I often say I never debate with the intent of convincing my debate opponent but rather to convince the potential audience.

I’m proud to say that NTW’s now follows me and I follow him and we’ve had a couple civil convos since this one. This convo started with NTW’s calling me a sissy and ended with him calling me a friend. I was worried we’d break the internet, but it seems to have survived this upheaval of the natural order.

There were a couple throwaway tweets between the last one and this one, but the one below is the next one of substance and truly relevant to the point I’m trying to make with this post.

There is one last tweet I need to specifically comment on. It comes from one of the subsequent convos we had, but it references the subject of this post.

Having NTW’s tell me that a “weight has been lifted” due to our convo was one of the highlights of my 3.5 years on Twitter. At some point in our conversation both NTW’s and I told each other we are both suffering from clinical depression right now and to know I was able to help him like that actually helped me and my own depression a bit. Being autistic, I don’t often make close connections with people, so those few instances where I do tend to stick with me. I’ll probably remember this conversation with NTW’s until I die or Alzheimer’s sets in.

People often talk about Online vs. IRL (In Real Life), but I don’t see a separation. So much of our lives are online now and how we behave and portray ourselves online can have “real world” consequences, so the line between the two is no longer as clear as it once was. Regardless, it is still you/me talking to other people. We may not be face to face, but it is still two people communicating with each other. We are both typing in the real world and what we type affects the person on the other end, so how is our interaction not “the real world”?
In my opinion, if you regularly act like an asshole online, you are probably an asshole “in real life”. Sure, you might hide it better when there isn’t a screen between you and the other person, but it’s still you acting that way. Anonymity has been proven to expose our true psyche, so if anonymity turns you into an asshole…guess what? You’re probably an asshole behind that smiley, friendly face you show the “real world”.
Until next time, keep drinking the Kool-aid and be nice to one another.

2 thoughts on “Killing them with kindness

  1. Pingback: Spiffy Ehward | The Cult of Eh™

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