“say nothing,” my mother always said. Actually, that’s not true. She may have said it once. At any rate, not as often as she said things about people when she had nothing good to say about them. If you would look for a real conversation with people over the internets*, I’d suggest you find something else to do. Banging your head against the wall, in my opinion, is probably a better use of your time.
Think of it, in an actual conversation, much of the time the odds don’t favor a meaningful chat– each person will talk about what excites or concerns them, or just as often what annoys or perplexes them, and if there is a back and forth, beyond this mutual telling of stories, that’s a big plus and a conversation to remember. In writing, unless you are writing to another writer– and even then, the odds are against you — you can often forget about hearing much connected to what you were discussing. If you curse, insult or use CAPS to browbeat the person you will sometimes get an aggrieved and defensive direct response, but, all things considered, this is not a useful strategy for having a productive conversation with someone. Better to do almost anything else, including posting random thoughts and opinions in cyberspace.
I remember my friends’ bright, precocious daughter, at about age six, annoyed by her younger cousins at a family gathering, bursting out with “I hate those fucking little bastards!” and stomping out of the room. My friend took his little girl aside and with infinite tenderness told her he understood that her little cousins were probably frustrating to hang around with, but that they bothered her because they loved her and wanted to be with her. She stuck to her position that she hated them, but left open the possibility that she might soften her position. I recall being very impressed that my friend didn’t even mention the language, he went straight, and compassionately, to why the girl was angry.
But I have to say, I’m with the girl here, particularly lately.
* As former president George Dubya Bush styled it