An Online Beat Down

Wow, I turn 46 in a few days! That sounded so old many years ago but not so much now. I’m an April Fools baby. I still get teased about that and my reply is always the same, “I may be a fool but I’m not stupid.” With 46 years behind me I like to believe I’m a little wiser but actually I do still make stupid mistakes sometimes and I’ll be sharing one this week.

I started thinking about this post weeks ago when something happened online. First let me step back and share this sad but true fact; I’ve been in two fights in my life and I’m 0-10. That’s right, two fights but 0-10 because so many guys beat on me! I joke and tell people that’s why I got involved with taekwondo but truthfully I took up the sport to spend time with Abigail.

I don’t view myself as an aggressive person although I am competitive. While I was in college I was a bouncer (“crowd control engineer” was how it was listed on the resume) but never once did I get in a fight. I was proud of that considering I worked every Saturday and Sunday for a year and a half. I knew other guys who looked at the job as a license to beat on people who got drunk and acted up but I wasn’t that kind of guy.

My fights occurred when emotions got the best of me, aided by some cheap beer, and I jumped in where I had no right to. Both times there were about five guys taking me on because in my younger days I was a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter, weighing anywhere from 220 lbs to 240 lbs. But size didn’t matter because I didn’t know anything about fighting.

For the most part I think I’ve learn my lesson not to let my emotions get the best of me and to not jump into situations that are none of my business. Having shared that, I recently I got smacked down pretty good…online. A friend shared something about a Web site and I was curious so I visited the site. What I read reminded me of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street where he said, “Greed is good.” This time it wasn’t greed that was being exulted, it was arrogance. My take was that the author was extolling the virtues of arrogance at the expense of humility so I wrote the following response:

“Wow! It’s good to know there’s someone out there so much wiser than all the great thinkers of history who espouse the virtue of humility. Sure, we can work hard and accept the praise that comes with achievement but there is far too much outside our control that helps shape who we are to not have some measure of humility. Humility is attractive because it shows people understand who they really are relative to other human beings. Arrogance on the other hand is never attractive.”

My first sentence could have been less antagonistic but I thought my point was valid. I have to admit, I was not ready for what ensued…a good old fashioned beat down! I thought someone might jump in and defend humility over arrogance but no one did. Every response made me out to be some kind of loser or villain. One person wrote, “If you have a problem with another’s lack of humility, I’m going to guess it’s just one of many problems from which you suffer. Humility is affected and your desire to see it in others only belies your own lack of self-worth.” Ouch! I was really surprised someone could form such a character judgment based on four sentences. I’m human, have many faults and have done things I’m not proud of but maybe that acknowledgement leads to some measure of humility. As for self-worth, I have it in abundance and it’s affirmed daily by friends and family.

I did feel a bit better when one person tried to convince readers that Jesus was arrogant because at that point I felt they were all out of touch. I guess I need to reread The Bible because I could have sworn it talked about how he humbled himself to the point of death on a cross. The people who thought He was arrogant were the very people who sentenced Him!
I’ve not shared the Web site on purpose because I don’t want anyone visiting it and stirring up the pot any further. I accept that different people have different opinions. The point for me writing this blog post is not to debate the issue because that would be a waste of time. Since I’m someone who tries to help others communicate better I have to look at myself and see what I can do differently next time. Here are some things I have to remember if I want to be a more persuasive person:

  • Pick my “battles” wisely. Sometimes it’s apparent you won’t change another person’s mind so it’s pointless to waste time and effort. One friend put it well when he said arguing with them, “would be like teaching a pig to sing: wastes your time and annoys the pig.”
  • Check my emotions. Humility doesn’t need me to defend it. Far too often reacting to emotion rather than choosing to thoughtfully respond only leads to trouble.
  • Be tactful. As I shared, my opening line didn’t open communication it was antagonistic.

People often say experience is the best teacher. There is some truth in that statement but there are many things we’d be better off not having to learn from experience because the stakes are too high. I’d rather not have to burn my hand to figure out whehter or not the stove was hot. So count this as your experience and perhaps my post can save you from “burning your hand” at some point down the road.

One last note, a big thanks to Micheal Franzese for the cool drawings. Check out his blog FranzeseInklings for more drawings and his interesting thoughts on just about everything.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

5 replies
  1. George
    George says:

    "My mother used to say to me, 'Elwood – she always called me Elwood – Elwood, in this world you must be oh-so clever or oh-so pleasant.' For years I was clever. I'd recommend pleasant – and you may quote me." — Elwood P. Dowd (played by Jimmy Stewart in the movie Harvey)

    Happy birthday, Brian.

    Excellent post!

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    My dad always said "A wise man should never argue with a fool, for a casual passerby may not be able to tell the difference."

  3. Eleni
    Eleni says:

    Brian, I happened across this post and I will have to go against the grain on this one. I am glad that you called out the arrogant. I believe that your intentions were to enlighten and to teach. Regardless if you were wasting your breath (or in this case, keystrokes), perhaps the person meant to learn the lesson was not the author of the post (from how you describe him, your wisdom most certainly fell on the deaf ears of an inflated head). Perhaps another reader (or several) were silently enlightened due to your wisdom. Moreover, I see arrogance as the most glaringly obvious sign of personal weakness and insecurity. Just as world champion fighters I have met have told me "the ones who are the most boastful are usually the ones that always lose". In my experience, where there is humility, there is wisdom and where there is arrogance, there is ignorance. Never be afraid to shine your light or your wisdom. Someone may be listening that can discern the ignorant from the intelligent in a disagreement, whose life you may change by your teachings. Just my opinion. Cicatrices Fazem Guerrerios. Best Regards, Eleni Lewandowski


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