DOES THIS INTERNAL dialogue familiar to you?
Occasionally, I come across a situation where I have to wonder if people witnessed the argument between my Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil, and if they did, if they even paid attention. I’m sure even if we are not a part of these crises of conscience, we witness them every day.
A few months ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a letter to the editor from a somewhat ignorant and horribly homophobic citizen of the Columbus area that had been shared by a friend. I made a comment on the post about the letter writer’s lack of understanding that marriage is a social construction, originally intended for the purpose of selling young women to another family in exchange for land and livestock and was prepared to call it a day. That was until I saw that another commenter had gone to the trouble of looking up the writer’s address and phone number and providing it in the comments section of this post as her contribution to the conversation.
Don’t get me wrong: I was disgusted by what the letter writer had to say. There is a strong possibility that this woman is one of the bigots we see every year standing along High Street with hateful, nonsensical signs at the Pride parade. I don’t think, though, that an implied call to violence against this woman is the appropriate response. There were no explicit expectations that the commenter presented on what to do with this information, but I think her reasons for posting the address were clear. The chances of anyone using this information in the manner it was intended were probably pretty unlikely, but the fact that this was the commenter’s initial response was disappointing to me. What makes it OK to encourage people to harass or commit harm to someone just for voicing their opinion?
What it comes down to is this: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Did the letter writer say some pretty awful things? Yes. Did the commenter have really easy access to the writer’s information? Yes. Does that make it OK? I encourage everyone to think about this and any number of other situations where your Shoulder Angel and Shoulder Devil might duke it out and make up their own minds.