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

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This TED Talk is worth your time!

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 believe that they are doing the right thing by standing up for their views and defending their people.

Or we can stay quiet, try not to draw any attention to us, don’t do anything to cause any waves and just let others vandalize our core beliefs. This is the doormat approach.  The doormats believe that they are doing the right thing by being peaceful and gentle.

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

This 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 because it requires a higher emotional maturity. And Dylan Marron articulates it so well, so I’m going to let him do the talking now:

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 comments and 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 on by the people who already agreed with me. 

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


Watch Dylan Marron’s TED Talk