My comments to “Sometimes, I Just Don’t Have Time for Individual Fights”

My comments to “Sometimes, I Just Don’t Have Time for Individual Fights

This, so many times over. This is why I will sometimes just say something and then walk away from a “discussion”. And why I have lost “friendships” over defending my right not not have to be every’s continuous, on-call, FREE educator.

“My father has always told me that I have to pick and choose my battles, and while he meant that I should choose which hill to die on judiciously, I’ve also taken it, in recent years, to mean that it’s not only okay, but totally reasonable, to walk away from ‘discussions’ that are clearly not productive.”

Though (not surprisingly) only privileged individuals are typically permitted to choose their battles and have their choice respected. If you’re dealing with an issue related to oppression or non-dominant identity or experience, the privileged expect you to be on guard and willing defend that hill constantly. What is most hurtful is when even self proclaimed allies expect it and expect you to personally explain why something they said or did is bigoted, hurtful, and/or inappropriate.

“Understand that arguing may not be the best use of your time. However important this issue is to you, there are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, are never going to believe that such a thing as a gendered wage gap is real and deserves their attention. They want to argue with you not because they’re open to having their minds changed, but because they want to see you get all flustered and feel smug about how “emotional” you get. You are not required to spend your time trying to convince others of something they’re dead set against accepting. The entire culture of American politics is becoming one of people just shouting past each other, and nobody learning anything because it’s all so jerky and frustrating. So while sometimes it may feel fantastic to come to an argument fully prepared and then crush your opponent, it’s not your job to do so.”

Because nothing is more exhausting than dealing with someone who’s mind is already made up on a topic but still wants you to personally “explain” your position to them. Particularly when there have other writings on the very same topic you can (and have) referred them to.

“She nailed something that many people seem reluctant to accept or engage with: Sometimes, people approach a discussion in bad faith. They’re not interested in having a conversation with you about a topic. They’re interested in riling you up, breaking you down, winding you up, and crushing you. They want to see you flail and get flustered and get angry. They feel like they’re proving some kind of ‘point’ by doing so, as though browbeating someone into an unwanted discussion and then refusing to actually engage is some kind of accomplishment.”

And that’s because punching down is always fun and easy.

“And you, yes, you, you have the ability to tell when someone is entering a conversation in bad faith. You really do. I promise. You don’t owe anyone anything, as Zeisler pointed out, and it’s okay to just drop the mic and walk away.”

Which is what I have done and will do in the future. Because I actually have a very basic and litmus test: will they actually read and critically engage in any of the references I provide. Most of the time I am not saying anything truly new in my observations. I am just simply really good at gathering and consolidating exiting resources. And I often know how to relocate orginal sources quickly. There is simply no need for me to have to re-articulate on a topic when anywhere from three to a dozen other people have already said the same thing.

“You have the right to choose whom you engage with, and when, and you get to decide how that engagement takes place. People who are not treating you with respect and giving a conversation their full attention are not worth your time, and you know who those people are.”

And at first I was surprised at just how many people, particularly formerly “good friends” suddenly showed their true colors and fall away when I started learning to respect and honor my own time, space, knowledge, skill, and boundaries. When I started telling people no, I am not going to expend my energy in that way any more. It was hurtful and painful at first, but I appreciate myself even more for doing so.

“This is about more than civility and respect for the people you talk to, but about a deeper need to engage with people who are actually interested in what you have to say.”

And the way I know they do want to respect what I have to say is if they demonstrate they respect what I have to offer, when I offer it, and how I offer it first.

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