“You’re everything I hate in a human being.”

I love Dylan Maron’s perspective. And I agree with his view on making room for the differing views of others. And I admire the way he responds to those who attack him.

It seems like we erroneously believe that we have two choices when someone attacks our views, beliefs, opinions, and perspectives.

We can either attack back by using clever comebacks and fight to get on top by dominating the other person’s insults. This is the jerk approach. The jerks approach justifies their actions by believing that they are doing the right thing by standing up for their views and defending their perspective.

The other approach is to stay quiet, try not to draw any attention to us, and to not do anything that would cause waves and allow others to vandalize our beliefs. This is the doormat approach.  The doormats justify their behavior by believing that they are doing the right thing by being peaceful and gentle.

Neither approach is very productive, in fact, they are both very destructive.

There is another approach. It’s an act of high moral integrity and respect for humanity. It’s not as easy as the jerk or the doormat approach because it requires a higher emotional maturity.

Dylan Marron articulates it so well in his TED talk:

So, my work became popular. Very popular. I got millions of views, a ton of great press and a slew of new followers. But the flip side of success on the internet is internet hate. I was called everything.

Sometimes it’s direct. Like Marcos, who wrote, “You’re everything I hate in a human being.”

It’s fun to talk about these messages now. Right? And it’s cathartic to laugh at them. But I can tell you that it really does not feel good to receive them. At first, I would screenshot their commentsand make fun of their typos,but this soon felt elitist and ultimately unhelpful. So over time, I developed an unexpected coping mechanism.

Because most of these messages I received were through social media, I could often click on the profile picture of the person who sent them and learn everything about them. I could see pictures they were tagged in, posts they’d written, memes they’d shared, and somehow, seeing that it was a human on the other side of the screen made me feel a little better. Not to justify what they wrote, right? But just to provide context. Still, that didn’t feel like enough. So, I called some of them — only the ones I felt safe talking to — with a simple opening question: “Why did you write that?”

Before I started this project, I thought that the real way to bring about change was to shut down opposing viewpoints through epically worded video essays and comments and posts, but I soon learned those were only cheered onby the people who already agreed with me.

Empathizing with someone you profoundly disagree withdoes not suddenly compromise your own deeply held beliefsand endorse theirs.It just means that I’m acknowledgingthe humanity of someone who was raised to think very differently from me.

 

Watch Dylan Marron’s TED Talk