I really hate posting on Twitter. I have to think twice when I respond to a news item or retweet a take. (Usually my dumb jokes with my friends don’t matter much. I do a lot of those things mindlessly.) I thought about something today when I was reading through news stories about the shooter in Baton Rouge.
I tweeted a Twin Cities media person who I like and asked if he had seen any stories about the fact that both Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were combat veterans? He quoted my tweet and said he hadn’t. He ended with the hashtag #FullMetalJacket. Somebody took offense to that and said not to lump all veterans in with those two. I immediately responded and said that I wasn’t trying to do that. I said that combat-related PTSD has real effects and I wondered if anyone had started to draw that connection. (I kind of forgot that the second horrible shootings in Baton Rouge had happened just about 24 hours ago. I’m sure there were not any substantive stories on the guy just yet.)
The guy responded with a “Really? Really? Jesus Christ.” I was taken aback by his tweets.
It was then I should have just shut down. That guy didn’t really matter in my own life. My day could have been just fine if I just went on with my life. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I walked away from my computer and talked with a co-worker about the whole thing and how stupid this guy was. I left it alone. I didn’t need to respond to the guy.
This is where more people should stop. I wonder how many public relations problems, school suspensions, and firings have come from people throwing an opinion out there without really thinking about it. I let it go, but then I started thinking about the whole thing again at the end of the day.
I wrote out a series of draft tweets on my phone before sending them out. I decided that my reasoning was sound, my arguments were strong, and I wasn’t attacking the guy. I wrote about a half dozen tweets directed at the guy. I told him that this wasn’t about lumping in events. It was about examining to see if PTSD or some other mental illness was related to the horrible attacks. I feel it would be irresponsible to throw away that as part of the problem that led to these horrible attacks. I said that mental health needs to be talked about more, not less, especially when it comes to veterans. I don’t want more veterans to suffer silently, give in to depression, commit suicide, turn to drugs, and yes, commit horrible acts of violence. There may not be a story there, but I’m hoping someone is at least trying to write it.
The guy responded with another tweet, but I didn’t feel like responding. I had said my point and I defended it.
My new policy is to wait three hours before I respond to a twitter argument. My mind is usually clearer and I can get my point across better. It’s not worth it to get into fights with ad-homnym attacks.
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