Walking Away from Arguments

I did it again. I know better, but I let myself get drawn into another online argument that took up far more time and energy than it was worth. It was gun rights issues this time. I’m not going to link or name the folks I was talking to, because that’s not what I want to get into right now.

I spent roughly an hour on this last night, reading comments and arguments and articles, presenting links and my own thoughts in return. There were the predictable “Oh, you stupid liberals” comments from some of this persons followers, but those were more amusing than anything.

For a while, it was somewhat productive, at least for me. I walked away with a better understanding of the mindset behind wanting more guns and guards in the schools. I don’t agree with all of the arguments, but I got a clearer idea where they came from. It helped me understand some related issues as well, and the conflict between personal security/protection vs. larger preventative measures. While some of the articles and links people shoved at me were crap, others were more thoughtful, and I’m still considering those.

But as things progressed, it began to feel more and more like pedaling a stuck bike in the mud. We weren’t getting anywhere, and continuing to try was just digging me deeper and spreading muck everywhere. So I said I was done.

Holy crap, you’d think I had just busted open this dude’s gun safe and taken a big old dump on his prized rifle. Walking away proved I was never interested in debate. It was the typical liberal tactic of running away because all my ideas had failed. By the following morning, we were getting comments about putting liberals through woodchippers. (That particular comment came from one of this person’s followers. Gosh, why would I ever want to walk away from such a lovely discussion venue?) Basically, I’m just another intolerant liberal, and the only opinions I want to hear are those that agree with mine.


I have a book deadline coming up. I could have finished the third draft of CODEX BORN last night if I hadn’t invested so much time in this debate. And then there’s stuff like spending time with my family, taking care of the house, helping my wife who’s continuing to recover from surgery…all things which I consider more important than spending another hour arguing with someone on Facebook.

The thing is, the reasons shouldn’t even matter. I get to choose how I’m going to spend my time and energy. If I’m in a discussion where I feel like I’m learning things, I’ll usually choose to keep going with that discussion. If not, or if there are other things I need to do, then I walk away. Given that it’s my life, well, call me crazy, but I figure I have the right to make that choice and set those boundaries.

Have you ever noticed how pissed off people can get when you set boundaries? It feels like, having entered this discussion, I was somehow obligated to remain until such time as he decided we were done.

I don’t get it. Let it go, man. No matter how many times you post about me, tag me in comments, or whatever, I’m done. No means no, you know?

The response today pissed me off at first. It doesn’t help that this was someone I knew and had chatted with at cons and such. But now, it mostly feels kind of sad.

What gets me is how often I’ve watched this script play out. It’s not just sad. It’s boring. What is it that makes people feel entitled to as much of your time and energy as they want? That you’re not allowed to walk away, but are instead obligated to remain on the field until they feel satisfied? I don’t get it.

On the bright side, aside from a direct message restating that I was done with the conversation, I’ve stayed away from the muck today, and instead finished up the draft of CODEX BORN. Between you and me, it was a much better way to spend the morning.