20. You don’t have to take the debate

This is something I am horrible at. I always feel like I need to defend my choices, my words and my actions. If someone says “But that is dumb/offensive/wrong/crazy”, I’ll almost always jump in feet first. Explaining. Discussing. Rationalising.

You don’t have to do that. And I’m writing this partly because I’m trying to remind myself of that.

If you create content (or just have opinions) you’re going to have some people disagree with you. That’s unavoidable and part of being alive. But you don’t have to spend time on that disagreement if you don’t want to. Especially not if you’re in the privileged position of not having to care.

If the police stop me for riding my bike without lights on, it’s best if I let them have my time. Society functions best that way, I’ve found, and also, it’s better to pay a (fair) fine for biking without lights than to try some hare-brained “escape the police” stunt that may end who-knows-where.

I’m not talking about not giving a shit. I’m talking about not giving a shit all the time. And about feeling that you have to justify yourself every time somebody disagrees with you.

It can get rather annoying when you forget that you can choose not to engage.

Educating internet trolls who want to discuss semantics because they have once met a feminist they disagreed with, and now think it should be called equalist instead.

Explaining why a blog post that reaches hundreds (or thousands) of people won’t be equally meaningful to everyone.

Apologising for something that – when seen through the wrong lens by the wrong person at the wrong time – might be problematic.

Smiling and saying:

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ll assume you have the best intentions, though you constantly assume that I have the worst.”

There are plenty of people out there who can’t just walk away. Who can’t just ignore, unfriend, unfollow or mentally shut down. But some of us can, and maybe we should start getting better at it. Maybe it’s ok that if you write something that reaches hundreds of people, some will find it insightful and others will find it idiotic.

Maybe we don’t owe explanations all the time. Maybe that’s something that I need to read enough times to actually start living by. Or maybe I’m just realising that it’s a price of blogging and I need to suck it up, and be happy that I have the option to just say the magic words:

“It’s ok. We don’t have to agree.”

And I hope I’m able to say just that when someone starts explaining to me why this blog post was wrong/bad/evil/problematic.

Knowing myself, it’ll be a struggle, though. I just hope they’ll ask “Why is there a picture of Atlanta Airport in this blog post?” instead of harder questions. :-)

Director at The College of Extraordinary Experiences, Coach at McKinsey & Founding Partner at The Global Institute For Thought Leadership. Author of 31 books.

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