Last night I read your response while riding the elevator home with my husband and I said out loud, “oh, this is a good one. I’m going to wait till I’m awake tomorrow to write back.”
You are correct and not correct, in my opinion. Big caveat here because I’m a firm believer in the fact that one person’s way of handling the world is not, and should never be, the only correct way of going about things.
On the one hand, yes, you are totally correct. The person who responded to me misunderstood what I was saying, and whether that was due to confusion of my writing or lack of clarity of screenshots, the respondent decided to write several pointed replies rather than ask a question. In the world we’d like to see built, I agree that asking a question rather than asserting a point is the better way to handle confusion.
On the other hand, we cannot expect people to be perfect and I don’t believe anyone is under the assumption that we’re going to fix the internet in one swoop with everyone changing their ways and suddenly becoming thoughtful, open, questioning, welcoming individuals. Fuck it, I’m not going to be able to become that person: I’m flawed and I make mistakes on the internet a bunch still, too. In this case, the respondent might have gone pretty far down a path that could have been avoided with a question, but overall, the responses were befuddling, not enraging or humiliating. Given the realities of the internet right now, that alone is something notable. Am I happy that I’m saying that basic levels of respect being maintained is notable? Nope, but it’s the truth, and it is notable. Moreover, if I were to dress down the respondent, rather than realize this issue, explain, and fix the problem, I’d be perpetuating the shittiness on the internet I purport to want to fix. The respondent could have doubled down when I pointed out the issue, called me a shitty writer who should delete her account and break all her fingers so she could never type again. That didn’t happen. Instead, we figured out the issue together, we said nice things to each other, we found a middle ground.
That’s the internet we need to build.
Not one where everyone is right, or everyone is always nice and those who are ever not nice, purposefully or inadvertent, get their comeuppance and then move along. We need to build an internet of respect dialogue. That doesn’t mean a conversation without misunderstanding or strife — but it does mean one with compassion and human decency throughout.