Angry comments

February 27, 2013

I comment regularly on the NYTimes website, and I have become concerned that one of the styles of comment that seems to garner popularity is the style that involves anger — the anger of the author, it would seem, and the passions of the readers, I am presuming.

What concerns me is that I associate this dynamic with conservative talk radio and such (and with negative consequences to its audience and to governing, social interactions, and the economy), and yet here it is apparently put in service to liberal or progressive or Democratic causes.

There is a school of thought that sometimes fighting fire with fire is appropriate or necessary.  I think even some religious leaders with tremendous insight and wisdom teach that sometimes a situation calls for some sort of hissing from us.

But here’s where I think the issue to be improved may lie:  does the return fire come out of reactivity — out of neediness and damage — or out of a place of calmness — with wisdom and compassion and sense for the big picture and the greater good?

Just as giving service will drain us if it comes out of the wrong place within us, but will be self-sustaining and even leave us feeling stronger in return if it comes from elsewhere within us and through us, so too, I think, the process through which we return fire makes a difference.

Either that or the religious leaders are wrong and we should never return fire.  For me, the jury really is out on that one.

The only justification I can understand for returning fire is mirroring:  sometimes we do our part by reflecting back to our partner, including an adversary, their own behavior.  If it’s spouting fire, then maybe returning fire is apt.

But it does make me uncomfortable.  I don’t know whence that comes, damage in me or strength and willingness.


One Response to “Angry comments”

  1. Judah Himmelstein Says:

    There is no question that US society is being fractured socially, economically,morally, politically &c. The key here is to step back and ask “WHY?”.

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