You Are Under No Obligation To Engage


My overarching online rule is that I am under no obligation to engage anyone just because I choose to post anything, period, anywhere. Facebook is not a social contract. It is a form of expression. At least my space is. I didn’t need to say that out loud, but there it is for anyone who’s confused.

That said, I don’t engage anyone who thinks what happened to Michael Brown was in line with duty and service. But just so we’re clear, it isn’t because I can’t. It’s because it’s a complete and utter waste of anyone’s time. And none of you ever, anywhere, has to deal with that. That’s a person that’s not interested in anything but expressing themselves, just like you. And when you encounter such intractable disinterest in ideas, truth or reality in the face of ever-budding discovery against their platform, to engage it is to harm yourself and distract you from work that needs to be done. No minds will be changed, no work will be done, no middle ground will be found. They are, quite literally, your enemy manifest. Waste. Of. Time.

Let them enjoy being on the wrong side of history while it lasts.

Finally (and this is the thing that people who want real change always mess up, bless our hearts), I don’t do any of this for my enemies. Not for their attention, not for their opinions, not for their clicks…not for them. I don’t post or write anything with the hope that the person who thinks Darren Wilson isn’t having his ass covered will read something I wrote and suddenly have a political and cultural conversion. Arguing with hardcore, real world, hate-your-ideas enemies is futile and wasted energy. Trust that if you see me arguing with an enemy I either a) don’t perceive them that way based on experience or knowledge that you, publicly, may not possess, or b) I am using my enemy to shore up my efforts and make my point, as an example. But I never confuse debating someone on Facebook or Twitter or any social media outlet as fighting my enemy. The real enemy doesn’t care about Facebook posts. Some random person on Facebook who disagrees with you is, 9 times out of 10, someone who has no interest in changing their mind. Where is the fight in that? That is, at best, sparring, and I promise you there are better ways to exercise your political and cultural muscles.

Because some of you will have to be left behind, politically. That’s just math. We can’t carry everyone to the finish line. We can’t even see the finish line from where we are. So my points and posts and essays and work aren’t for the people who will end up on the wrong side of history. Most of them can’t even help themselves. It’s for the people who still wonder, who still empathize, who are still capable of learning against their grain, who have fight but need tools, who are on fences, who believe in the power of a journey, who are able to deconstruct, who want change knowing it may not happen for them in their lifetime, who are able to see false change for what it is, who see big pictures, who throw hail marys, who can feel themselves growing when in the thrall of a book or an idea.

My enemies can make similar claims, of course. That’s okay. History is leaning another way. Either way, I’m probably not talking to them 110% of the time.


2 thoughts on “You Are Under No Obligation To Engage

  1. I read this post at just the right moment, after having walked away from an exchange with a woman who I recognized was probably too illogical and too hateful for me to have a fruitful discussion with her. I was still fuming and thinking about how I could have wiped the floor with her had I chosen to, and how maybe I should have. Your post left me feeling okay with having walked away. It reminded me of the very good reasons I had for not wasting my breath, in spite of the fact that I was being deliberately provoked. I don’t take the time to read any blogs on a regular basis but yours, and this is exactly why.

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