Day Eighty-Seven: Conflict Management

So I got in an Internet Fight with somebody yesterday. A while back, I pledged that I’d stand up to ignorance more. That the Nightmare Clown is happening because weak people with heads full of bad ideas were just being left to rampage around and spread those ideas. Because it’s a pain in the ass to argue with people. But conflict management isn’t an internal strength for me.

So I’ve been arguing with these people. Yesterday was pretty typical: somebody who’s obviously been pulling all their thinking from talk radio. A childlike understanding of the world and the law. Lack of empathy bordering on comical.

Conflict management is not my forte.

This actually kept me up for a huge chunk of the night. Not just being riled up, but a couple of things in addition:

  • First, I actually feel bad for the guy. There’s no moral fiber there, but a deep weakness that leads to accepting easy, angry answers to feel safe in an uncertain world. But this is a weak person lashing out, not a strong person. I could have been more compassionate. But being condescended to by somebody who doesn’t actually have any idea what they’re talking about is literally the button to push to get me pissed.
  • Second, maybe there was an actual teaching moment there, and I blew it by being argumentative instead of explaining. Probably not. Again, when somebody is more interested in being ‘right’ than being human, there’s not much room there. But maybe there could have been some sort of way to punch through that kind of perpetual tantrum and reach a rational mind.

I’ll never know, obviously. Not being good at practicing compassion robbed me of a possible chance to do better. Conflict management, again, is not one of my strengths. Internal conflict management — not letting this stuff keep me up at night — is definitely not a strength.

So I’m glad that I’m at least not letting poison go unchecked. Annoyed with myself for not finding more ways to check the poison.

Day Ten: I Am Not A Jerk (Kinda)

When I tell people about this podcast, one quick reaction is usually “…but you’re not a jerk.” Which is flattering, and I kind of agree — while in my dark and secret heart I fear I am actually a well-disguised jerk and a barely cloaked jerkitude lurks within.

As in “who’s this jerk?”

I am, however, wholly unqualified to be doing this. I have no track record of success with lifestyle change. I am not a therapist or a life coach or whatnot. I have not taken any courses and do not have any relevant degrees.

I’m just some guy.

My cat, who is actually kind of a jerk.
If you hear jingling in the background, it’s this cat, who likes to pull herself up the back of my chair and perch on my shoulder. She is a jerk.

So I feel like one reaction to this project might be “what’s this clown doing talking about these things? What a jerk.” Which is a pretty justified reaction, honestly. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

This whole thing is about me working to figure out what I’m talking about.

So I am by my own accounting eligible for the j-word; I’m putting stuff out into the world without any substantial authority or knowledge. Framing it as “one idiot stumbles forward” is a way of trying to manage expectations, but I still feel a bit like a fraud.

There’s a real thing that exists called the Dunning-Kruger effect, which has haunted me my entire life: I have little arcs that start with me thinking I know a lot about something. Then I find out more about that something and realize I don’t know that much about it.

But then I learn even more and realize that I will never know enough about the subject and am damned to be an idiot forever. So I bound from the Dunning-Kruger effect to its  corollary and then often that whole thing winds up YAGO.

So! I don’t really think I’m a jerk. But I think it’s okay if you think I’m one.