The Joy of Controversy

Yesterday, I sat down to talk about a controversial subject but ended up deleting the post. With a handful of anthologies due out soon, I decided, “Hey! Y’know, maybe you should wait until it’s just you before you screw up everyone’s careers with needless drama.”

There’s good controversy and there is bad controversy. Everyone has ugly thoughts, but we just pound on the few people who voice them. The joy of blogging is that if you take your time, you can eloquently discuss a controversial subject without offending anyone. You have all the words in the world, and you can carefully approach a topic and talk about it with respect.

There’s always going to be people who want you to screw that up though. Whenever you say something intelligently that they disagree with, they’ll probably ignore you. The most damaging thing they can do is pretend you never said it at all. Some are vicious enough to take whatever you said and pull a few words out of context, but they can reasonably be called on it.

But when you say something stupid? They will never forget.  The brother of my childhood friend used this quote a few times to explain the nature of this beast:

“You can build a million bridges, but if you suck one c$%^, you’re a c&#$sucker and not a bridge builder.”

I mentioned a couple of days ago how easy it is to get into trouble on Twitter. It’s true, a lot of celebrities have gotten into all kinds of hot water in 140 characters or less. Why? Well, 140 characters calls for putting a thought very concisely. Get it right or don’t bother. It’s easy to be passionate and not think about what you’re about to do, especially when the only thing between you and hundreds of thousands of followers is a typed sentence and the ‘Tweet’ button.

The internet is not one for giving things back. Before you ever tell that non-PC joke, send that tweet or publish that blog, take one hot minute and ask yourself:
1) Could this message start a swarm of angry, bothered people coming after me?
2) If so, is this statement something I’m jesting about, or am I serious about?
3) If I am serious, is it worth the trouble?

Chalk it all up to personal experience. Mastering answering these three questions have proven invaluable for in keeping me out of trouble probably 97% of the time. This has been a PSA in no way connected to that other 3% of the time.

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