People say/tweet horrible things. Sometimes intentionally. But other times not which makes for a difficulty in calling people out on their horrible things.
A while back a few of my twinterlocutors (ick, that’s a horrible way of putting it–never again) determined that I had a “method” for conflict resolution/questioning tweets that seem a bit ideologically troublesome. I wasn’t necessarily aware that I had a method itself until I was called out on it. I’ve been thinking on it, and am trying to tease it out since it does seem to be a fairly successful mediation plan. @Sainsha calls this the “Dude, what are you even doing” method, but I maintain that I have never used the word dude unironically.
The point behind my ‘method’ is that it’s easy for someone to misspeak, so instead of directly rallying to arms against the person, it is better to understand the motivations behind the questionable material. After all, retractions can always and often happen.
A questionable tweet arises from someone I normally respect (I generally leave many alone in their ideology whom I don’t respect, because of the inherent nausea that arises from dealing with the horridly stubborn — I follow plenty of people only for the ability to keep tabs on their awfulness as well). Either it’s a standalone tweet that suggests something dogmatically cruel, or it’s a snippy comment against someone else I otherwise respect. The latter situation is generally more precarious, since it has multiple egos that may be hurt.
I usually ask in my own @-reply a rather blunt question that aims more directly at ascertaining intent. If the tweet is a snippy attack on someone, it’s important to not readily go to fight for the victim of the attack. It can very well be that neither side is right. Many times, this has been the case. The idea is that the question should be jarring in pointing out the troublesome interpretation of the tweet. Additionally, defending any victim of the tweet or statement may be unwanted. In many cases, the victim can hold their own and doesn’t need any sort of patronizing defense. Asking a blunt question regarding intent instead makes for a more honest exchange. The possibly-malignant tweeter is forced to either recant, say nothing, admit to cruel intentions, or dig their grave deeper.
If the person recants, yay. End of method.
If the person says nothing, lame. End of method. –there’s nothing to do here without harassment.
If the person admits to cruel intentions, then it’s probably a good thing to disassociate from this person from then on out (I have yet to do well on this part, and often get into a heated and nauseating circumstance).
If the person digs their grave deeper –that is, defends ill-will and doesn’t understand anything wrong with it while demonstrating the absolute depth of its maliciousness–, be ready for a ridiculous experiment in rhetoric. Again, do not chivalrously defend any victim of the circumstance besides oneself. The method is not a question of choosing sides, but of revealing people’s biases for what they are.
This will get nauseating, or at least it has been for me. I’ve interacted with plenty of people this way only to discover that we have irreconcilable differences. These differences are often begat by some ideologically-entrenched principle/abject egoism of the other person. While it supposedly shouldn’t bother me that I’ve discovered something so morally bankrupt in someone I had grown to respect through such a strange medium, it does. I feel my arguments, often for days. I then either move toward a full-unfollow, or limit my ongoing interaction with the person to a minimal one: once bitten, twice shy.
I don’t know how effective a rhetorical/ethical method this is, but it’s mine and it seems to work for its purposes.