As someone who hosts a podcast, and has interviewed a number of people with whom I disagree, one might think I enjoy arguing. I don’t. I hate it. I get nervous and all riled up at any sign of confrontation. That’s why my Facebook page is normally free of politics, and instead is filled with instances of me acting like a dork. I’m just better at being a clown, which is why I usually prefer to joke around and let bygones be bygones whenever possible.
I especially dislike when those arguments I have are with friends. It never feels good for me to argue with people I like. But sometimes, when a friend is being ignorant in public, a public smackdown is very much in order. Still, I don’t like the way it makes me feel.
That’s what happened tonight. A buddy of mine posted a meme on Facebook that I felt was casually sexist. It criticized a female politician for what she was wearing instead of focusing on the arguments she was making. I chimed in, was met with mocking and curses, and it was on. Each of my replies became more curt in the process. Not only was I trying to keep up with the mob, but another friend of mine was texting me encouragement. Whenever I said I wanted to drop out of the conversation, he would go check out what was being said, report it back to me, and tell me I needed to say something back. Like an idiot, off I would go.
The physical reactions I get during a heated argument are unpleasant. My chest tightens up, my eyes blur, and I start to get dizzy. My heart pounds as if I were working out. I joked with my friend that I’m too overweight to play around with my heart, so I should just relax and eat pizza instead. Seems to me a better way to die.
I’m happy to report that I finally did stop the argument myself. I informed my buddy that I was unfollowing comments on his post, and would not be replying any longer. He seemed to be trying to start back up with me by tagging me repeatedly so that I would get a notification, but I resisted the urge to go back and see what he was saying.
Shortly thereafter he deleted his post, and admitted that he had been wrong on a few counts. While this argument would not have caused me to throw away our friendship, I was still glad it was over. Ultimately, I have to know to be smarter than to argue on the internet, especially with friends. I certainly could have handled the situation better, and besides, I don’t need the physical stress of trying to quickly craft the perfect cutting replies.
It’s been several hours now, and even though it ended peacefully, I must admit that I’m not entirely over it. I can still feel a bit of the tension in my shoulders. Again, that’s on me. But I think I understand a bit better the draw of nicotine. I personally don’t smoke, but I still think I could use a cigarette right about now.