Sometimes I’m an asshole

Earlier today the following exchange happened on Twitter:

The whole thing reminds me of this great Monty Python sketch: Argument Clinic

Of course, it could also be a simple failure to communicate too (without resorting to violence).

Here are the basic facts (and why I’m also wrong):

  1. I agree with Rumsfeld that the tax code is too complex
  2. I am dismissing this criticism because of the messenger (and I’m aware that this is a logical fallacy or bias)
  3. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is a bad place to make a nuanced argument
  4. I wasn’t making a nuanced argument, I was venting my spleen at Rumsfeld through the lens of a “conversation” (twitter’s nomenclature) with Dave
  5. I tweeted before I had coffee. This is clearly an excuse.
  6. I shouldn’t @ reply people who I don’t know personally. Something is always lost in the unwritten spaces between the tweets.

Was I an asshole? I got called one and I certainly should’ve known better than to engage on a tweet that was clearly already an attempt to respond to criticisms of the type I offered directly back.

So, yes, I was an asshole. I’m sorry, Dave.

Was it avoidable? No. People are assholes and, try as I might, I’m likely to do something else stupid in the future.

I’ll forget myself and rush headlong into a debate.
I’ll respond too quickly when I should save something in my drafts.
I’ll be passionate and vocal.

Does this mean I hope to do it again any time soon? No it doesn’t. I’m at least aware enough of the above facts (and my bias against Rumsfeld) not to make this exact same mistake.

Especially when discussing politics online (which I don’t often do because I can get riled up) I need to remember Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be A Dick.

Related: If I really feel strongly about something, I should own it enough to blog it (see this post you’re reading now) or tweet something public and not just a reply.

Happy Internetting (and remember these are good learnings for offline behavior too)!