I would love to say that I will always be right, will never take up a position that is indefensible, or untenable, never just simply make a mistake. I know better, though, I’ve stuck my foot in it before, and likely will again, sometime soon - might be in the midst of it, now, even. This last week I watched someone else put THEIR foot in it, and briefly noted it on twitter, with the ever-eloquent “are you FUCKING kidding, Seattle Weekly?”. I’m not gonna link the article, it’s honestly not worth your time and energy, and really, it wasn’t worth mine, either. I don’t really wanna talk about that, however, there’ve been multiple articles talking about the sexist stereotypes and questionable advice in the article, already. (As an aside, my favorite rebuttal was this one by Susie Rants) What I do want to talk about is what happened next. People rightfully called out the problematic points of the article, but also they made the criticisms personal, as the internet is wont to do, especially to women. The author’s reaction to this was not what I’d hoped it would be, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you, er, to myself about.
Dear Future Me,
You’ve said something, probably on the internet, maybe on Whatever Comes Next. You’ve done it in a very public way, and you’re probably suffering for it, right now. People are angry, and lashing out at you, and the attacks are probably personal, and hurtful. You’re probably considering what to do now. You can double down on what you’ve said, and dig your heels in. I hope that if you’re really confident in your position, that you do, to an extent. It’s okay to stand up for yourself, and your views. I hope that you do it with dignity, not with sarcasm and bitterness. I hope you listen to peoples criticisms, and remember that your view point is not the only one, and probably not the most important one, either. I hope you remember that personal attacks aren’t worth responding to, and that you shouldn’t use any of your own.
Remember that there’s a difference between someone telling you the truth in a way you don’t like, and that person being wrong. Take a few breaths, think about the point of what’s said, let the tone flow away. Please don’t dismiss someone, just because they’re frustrated with you - you’re human, and so are they. You might discover that you’re wrong, eventually. You might have to apologize. In that moment, you will want to know that even though you stood by your words when they were wrong, you did it with courtesy. Remember to admit what you’ve done wrong, and to explain why it was wrong.
Remember that you will be wrong, so above all, FM, be kind.
<3, Rachael - 2015 version.