Share the Love: Avoid the Haters

The purpose of this blog is to connect with future readers of the young adult fantasy series I’m writing. In reading my words here, you get to know me as “the person behind” the stories. If you like what you get here, you won’t mind parting with hard-earned cash to read a book I’ve written.

So goes the theory. Successful entrepreneurial authors tell me this, so I believe them.

In order to keep from offending my fan base, I’m supposed to avoid the following topics: religion and politics.

Not a problem. Neither of these subjects has much to do with what I’m writing (although there are both politics and religion in my fantasy universe). Who wants to start an argument anyway?

Apparently, quite a few people.

In checking out blogs with large followings, I’m realizing that most of them have 500 comments when they ask a question about a “hot button” topic or rant about religion or politics. Or, more specifically, how religion is misrepresented by the media and politicians.

I am eager for my readers to leave comments. Ask me to clarify something or share a similar experience.  Even a simple, “thanks” would probably get me dancing in my seat.

Do I want hundreds of comments? Duh!

What I don’t want is a bevy of haters to show up at my blog and tell me how wrong, stupid or hateful I am if I happen to disagree with their philosophy. This, I have noticed, makes up a bulk of the conversation on these controversial blog posts that go viral and get hundreds of comments.

I admire the people who disagree with the author of these rants with finesse and sound arguments. If a person can’t present their views in this way, I wish they wouldn’t comment.

Of course, I don’t know these bloggers personally. Maybe having an argument in their comments is the goal of their controversial posts.

If a person disagrees with me, I don’t jump down their throat in real life, so why would I do it in cyberspace? In fact, I know only a handful of people who react vociferously when you disagree with them. I’ve learned to keep my dissention to myself when speaking with these folks.

I love turquoise, aquamarine and teal. “I hate those colors,” you say. I shrug. After all, you’re entitled to your own opinions.

I despise tofu. Every time I’ve eaten it, it’s like choking down a piece of rubber. “I love tofu” you exclaim. I’m happy to let you have it. I’m not going to call you crazy because your palate is different than mine.

Yet, for some reason, when people come to deeper beliefs (those involved in politics and religion), this “agree to disagree” mentality flies out the window.  If I’m right about religion and you disagree, then you’re wrong. Only one of us can be right.

Maybe. Maybe not. I’m certain that if I approach our conversation with this “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude, things will get ugly rather quickly. There’s no chance I’ll convert you to my side of things.

So, is the point just to argue – be the loudest voice – when religion and politics enter the conversation? No one really expects to change the views of the person they’re demeaning, do they?

If that’s the case, there’s no point in having the conversation. I have entered such arguments in times past about abortion, drinking alcohol, premarital sex and even homosexuality. I’m done with such topics if it isn’t going to be a two-way street of sharing ideas. Communication involves speaking and listening.

communication.quoteListening doesn’t happen when the person who isn’t talking is just formulating their next rebuttal. The process will break down completely when the name calling starts.

Furthermore, if my answer to your stand on an issue is “well, that’s just stupid,” I’ve proven to you that your argument is sound and I have no rebuttal. Seriously.

If you present me with proof that chocolate will kill me, I’ll scream “say it ain’t so.”  I might even give up eating chocolate (or just comfort myself with more of the stuff accepting that everyone dies and I don’t mind dying with dark chocolate melting on my tongue). However, if you snatch the chocolate covered almond out of my hand as I’m getting ready to pop it in my mouth, I’m going to be ticked. The conversation isn’t going to go very well because it started out on a negative note.

I think the real reason I’ll avoid blogging about controversial topics in this space is because I want to start a conversation. I don’t want to fill my comments with name-calling and hateful rhetoric.

It makes me sad. I feel strongly about many things. I won’t write about most of them on this blog. My readers won’t really get know me in a deeper way. Some people might even call me
unprincipled, spineless or wishy-washy.

It’s a no-win situation. Name-calling tends to be the only route some people know when expressing their opinion.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.