Some Rules

Some Context

In internet communities, there is often a question of how to deal with someone who is consistently rude or mean or troll-ish or what-have-you.

It's similar to having 'difficult' people in the workplace.

And it's also similar to the notion that sexism or other bigotry in the community leads to lack of diversity, because who wants to be around bigots?

These issues are different iterations of the same thing, with the third having a larger social scope.

Some Rules

  1. There are always an end.
  2. Safety is more important than ego.
  3. Your moral compass always needs adjustment.
  4. Compassion in the heart trumps everything.
  5. Leadership dynamics are hard.
  6. Say yes.

1. There Is Always An End

You will finish. It will happen.

You will decide to quit, for one reason or another, whether you're 'winning' or 'losing.'

If you won the argument, you are done.

If continuing with the argument hurts you enough, you will quit.

And then it will be over, and there will be a peaceful empty hole where it was.

This is the basic rule which negates the narcissism involved in continuing to argue for reasons other than edification.

2. Safety Is More Important Than Ego

If you are beating someone down verbally (or otherwise), you will eventually become conscious of the fact that you are hurting them.

There will be a point where you realize that you are hurting someone by continuing.

Conversely, if you are being beaten down, or if you think you're being scrappy and coming back for more despite the fact that no one else cares, you are hurting yourself.

In either scenario, you are in a position to become aware of the harm you are doing to someone, either another or yourself.

This is the basic rule which opens up the possibility of compassion towards yourself and/or someone else.

3. Your Moral Compass Always Needs Adjustment

You think you are right, but you are not.

That is, you might think you're morally or ethically correct in a given instance, but you might be demolishing someone else in the process, and that's certainly difficult to justify without dehumanizing the other person and disregarding their needs.

Conversely, if your sense of self is being demolished, you should review the other rules, and then decide whether the harm being done to you is to some degree instructive or merely hurtful. This is how you can calibrate your own moral outrage.

In general, your sense of self-justification can be assumed to be wrong, because people are rarely fully justified in doing much of anything. And what you're doing is likely going to change soon anyway.

Get used to the idea that you will learn new things about people, and the world, and in the future you will operate from the perspective that what you're doing now is probably wrong to some degree.

This is the basic rule which allows you to overcome ignorance and sanctimony.

4. Compassion In The Heart Trumps Everything

Let's say you go around using forbidden, loaded, hate-filled words like the n-word or the c-word or any of the other words like that.

Do you have compassion in your heart when you do it?

It's corny, but it's the only true metric.

If you can call someone a cunt with compassion in your heart, then you are the Buddha.

But surely you realize that no one else will recognize this fact. And if you truly have Buddha-like compassion, you will avoid that word, or other words or language like it, because you know it will cause misunderstanding and suffering for those who are ignorant of the enlightenment and compassion you radiate from your unchangeably perfect heart. Ya cunt.

This is the basic rule that sets a standard for compassion which never actually works, but which nevertheless you must work towards if you care about people at all.

5. Leadership Dynamics Are Hard

Some people have more power within the community than you do.

Those who have vested interests and greater responsibility must be approached with patience and compassion.

They are the ones doing the hard work of being responsible not only for themselves, but for you as a member of the community.

If the desired outcome is leaders who abandon humanity in pursuit of control or status, then the easiest way is to remove any margin in which they can offer you the benefit of the doubt.

Similarly, if you believe you are powerless, and this informs your sense of entitlement, you have two options:

  1. Accept that you should work on understanding your own potential for participation, contribution, and leadership.
  2. See rule 6.

This is the basic rule which helps avoid the social cost of burnout.

Rule 5.1 is: Only ask for things it's possible to receive. This rule is trickier than it sounds.

6. Say Yes

Always say "Yes."

Say "Yes, and..."

Saying "Yes, and..." is the same as contributing.

If you cannot begin with saying "Yes," before you move on to disagreement over specifics, you are in the wrong community.

This is the basic rule which provides a metric for leaving the internet community you are in.