Turning The Other Cheek: When You Encounter Foolishness, Should You Validate It Or Ignore It?

November 18, 2012  |  


A quote I’ve been familiar with since I was a child was “The only thing worse about losing an argument is winning one.”  I mean, let’s be honest, that’s hard to not only hear but to accept as truth.  Sometimes you’re going about your own business and a person who is looking to prove themselves might try to purposely provoke you.  You can either attempt to put them in their place, but usually that just makes you sink lower.  Or, you can ignore it, let them act a fool, but sometimes that makes you feel lower.  So what should you do?  Validate it, or ignore it?

I was a Sociology minor in college and one thing that we studied was the portrayal of African Americans.  Now, to add on to the discussion of whether Black people are constant threats to society, a correlation that I made was that people have a tendency to want to prove their agency.  In a time where we (black people) are at the bottom of society’s ladder, and besides having a black president, some black people still feel as though we are constantly looked down upon and always losing. It makes you think, “Are these people resorting to acting out to have just any small victory to cling to?”  Feeling helpless in a society that disposes them, carrying the burden of responsibility we all have that every single action we make is a representation of a total race, and feeling like no matter what you do, you’re seen as lower?  So, instead of trying to take the high road, some say “eff it,” and attempt to win these petty fights in an effort to feel like we’re succeeding.  To somehow prove to themselves that “I can win something,” whether it’s an argument, spitting match, or fight.

So you have the people who are looking for an easy win anywhere they can, and then you have the people who have seemed to lose their social graces by spending too much time trolling on internet sites.  Some of these people are so accustomed to being internet thugs and gangsters, saying what they want behind the protection of a screen, they forget that in face to face interaction, you can get it.  These things, mixed together, are creating a mixture of rash behavior and stupidity that is being documented through camera phones, Youtube and Worldstar Hip Hop.

The first time I truly thought about this was after the Cleveland bus driver fiasco.  While everyone was debating if the punch was warranted or not, I always wondered, why was he even arguing with the girl in the first place?  The camera comes on and they’re both insulting each other.  All I could think was, “If just one of them would have stopped talking…”  But I feel like we’re living in a time now where it’s encouraged to put people in their places.  Someone wants to say something out of pocket to you?  “Oh, you think you know who you are, but I’m about to show you who I am!”  We see this type of behavior validated through the reality television shows that we watch.  A look turns into words.  Words turn into insults, and insults turn into violent action, and people are validated by it.

Now, let’s go to the Baltimore bus driving incident.  Since recording happened while the fight was in motion, the viewers have helped them create the full picture by the comments after the scuffle is finally broken up.  From the comments, the riders seem to think that the bus driver was wrong for fighting the teen and when confronting the bus driver about it, the bus driver replied, “It’s not about that, it’s about respect.”   So what you’re telling me is that when she began to act a fool, you couldn’t ignore it?  You had to get out of your seat to put her in her place for disrespecting you?  Until more information comes out about how things started, I’ll hold my tongue, but if those punches were thrown out of the fact that you wanted to teach the girl about “respect,” did you really win?

Now I’m not going to tell you how to live your own personal lives, but I’m saying all of this because I love you (even though I don’t know you) and personally know what can happen when you’re trying to prove yourself.  I’ve had two cousins within the last four years who decided to validate someone’s crazy behavior.  The end result? One cousin was shot in the head in a crowd full of people and the other got stabbed, again, in a crowd full of people.  The people who were egging them on to prove their point are still alive today.  My cousins, who wanted to show off, aren’t.

Just realize that consequences come when you decide to validate stupidity.  You might be rewarded a few extra Tfollowers, and have your name gain weight in the street but at the end, all the examples that we’ve seen recently of people validating foolishness have led to arrests, sentencings, firings and deaths.

So really, when you find yourself so consumed about wanting to win an argument, consider that the key to success is ignoring it.  Consider letting the ignorant person find their own validation with someone else and don’t risk losing the amazing things you have in store for yourself over a few words.  It’s not worth it.

While you ignore foolishness, you should validate Kendra Koger’s twitter account @kkoger.

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