Addressing the “skeptics” on reddit: Woman up and talk to people in real life.

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as before, posting my response here because I’ve handed off my reddit account to a friend so I can’t keep trying to fix the internet. I’ll re-post to reddit when I get access again in a week.

In response to “he said she said” comment, as replicated below:

guh-internet-suchfail
4:29 AM: the point distro is now 3 for miotoss, 1 for me, instead of 2:2 as shown here. love you too reddit

I’m sure an arrest would satisfy your desire for truth [/sarcasm].

The fact that there are laws against something is evidence that it happens (so we make a law against it, e.g. no one is seriously making laws against murdering unicorns), not that it doesn’t happen. For instance, there’s laws against speeding and jaywalking, and they definitely still happen. Another example, rape is illegal and people do get arrested for rape, yet people still doubt it happens. Therefore, nothing you read on the internet will convince you, especially if you start from “everyone is lying to me / people are all liars” and the thought is on the tip of your tongue ready to leap out the second you read something contrary to your beliefs.

So seriously, just go talk to people in real life—everyone will be much happier, you and I included. In real life, you will have to look people in face and stare them in the eye and deal with the fact that you could end up feeling sh***y about yourself when you call your friends a liar to their face.

I tell my friends in real life when they are being wittingly or unwittingly sexist, and I feel sh***y as f**k all when I do so. But I deal with it, I deal with their anger and resentment and backlash, I deal with them saying “bulls**t” to my face, I deal with them saying “I’m too busy dealing with my own life and issues to listen to you”, I deal with them saying “I only care about hardcore technical issues and I’m proud of that”, I accept they will tell me “I don’t care about your pet cause, stop talking about it”, I listen to why they are feeling the way they do—I do all this so that we can grow together, and because I’m a grown-up woman and I’m their friend. Because I accept that, if I want them to listen to me, I need to listen to them too.

I listen to them, because I know what it feels like to not be listened to.

I’m far from perfect at listening instead of reacting in anger, because I’m human. But at least I try.

I’m challenging you to do the same. Get off the internet and go talk to people in person. Woman up, like I did, and confront them in real life. Engage with people in order to grow your empathy and understanding of why other people believe what they do, instead of trying to prove to yourself what you already believe. And don’t sleep easy until you do.

It will take effort and time away from honing your technical skills. You will have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and distressed. You will have to accept people’s anger and distrust and hurt and discomfort and apathy and backlash at you. You will have to work to seek out opposing opinions instead of shutting them down. You will have to work to gracefully accept criticism when you inevitably get angry, fail at listening, and fail to hold yourself up to your own standards.You will have to acknowledge the limitations of statistics and the limitations of your knowledge—you will have to put all your opinions aside so that you can fully be there when your friend is asking you to listen to her. You will have to work to broaden your circle of real friends, not just token friends, so that you can talk to people with diverse life experiences with whom you have a history of doing things for in return, instead of just demanding their knowledge and opinion and attention in a one-way relationship—you will have to ask for their trust in you, instead of asking them to lay their painful life stories before your skeptical eyes for you to tear apart while you call them liars “who have zero issue lying” and give them no trust nor respect in return.

And this is the effort you have to put in to be a grown-up woman.

tl;dr Woman up and talk to people in real life. Don’t sleep easy until you are better at listening than at arguing, until you are comfortable doing to your friends in person the things you do to strangers on the internet.

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2 thoughts on “Addressing the “skeptics” on reddit: Woman up and talk to people in real life.”

  1. Somehow, this reminds me of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The people behind that act used the power of government to force millions of strangers to purchase health insurance. I would have preferred if they had just approached me in person and said “David, you must purchase health insurance if you don’t have it already”. They could have started a personal discussion about the issue with me. I think there is some parallel between using the government to blast your laws onto strangers and using the internet to blast your messages out to strangers.

    1. Hmm, that is an interesting insight into how people become alienated from politics or start demonizing politicians (who, let’s face it, are just people too).

      I guess I personally feel like it is to some extent up to you to seek out these “stories” or reasons why a law was created the way it was, and important to maintain a positive air of curiosity (“scientific discovery of the truth” as it were) instead of a negative air of (“proving who is more evil / wrong / corrupt / the devil”). I feel this leads to more productive and creative ideas about how to improve the “way things have always been done”, when we investigate both (A) people’s individual agency / responsibility for their actions / strength in charting the future and also (B) their weakness / susceptibility to the system they work in.

      For instance, with politicians, (B) individually they are trying to be good people, but also have to balance achieving individual fame and success as a politician, which might mean paying attention to lobbyists who have a lot of $$$ and clear points, especially if individual citizens are giving feedback too chaotically to be useful to them.

      Basically, can we create a system the better rewards politicians or even everyday people when they make the effort to talk to each other 1:1 about laws / politics / their personal stories? Politicians especially so, since informing citizens and getting feedback from them and engaging them as fellow stakeholders and getting their “buy-in” should be part of their job.

      (I feel like my forays into international aid and product design for underserved communities gives me an engineering-specific insight into how “things are done wrong in politics”).

      Tangentially related, I liked this podcast a lot, about why people lie: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/311863205/why-we-lie?showDate=2015-04-03

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