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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  • OSHH

    I echo the sentiments in this article 1000%.

    The measure of real strength is not what you dish out, but more so how much you can take and then let roll off you. Every day practically you have to let the small things roll off you and if there is a legit conflict, go about resolving it in an appropriate manner, through appropriate channels when applicable otherwise unless let it go.

  • GeekMommaRants

    The internet folks fall in two camps.

    Those who love a good argument i.e. debate two perspectives to an issue with perhaps give and take.

    As well as those who enjoy demonstrating human emotion, as if it’s a necessary act, demonstrating no self-control or self-discipline, which is weak and disgraceful.

    No, a rigorous exchange of ideas, now that’s a great debate an awesome conversation!

  • Meyaka

    I have argued,whipped asses,insulted and much more in the past,I just could not take disrespect,if anyone “tested” me,I would respond 10 times worse and it would make me feel good for about a day,and then I would start feeling like an a$$hole… Now,you couldn’t provoke a fight out of me unless you hit me first,words don’t matter anymore,I laugh at the constant “she think she’s cute” and other instigating comment… It’s not worth it,and most if the time I’m prettier,more educated and wealthier than my “opponent”,so I got much more to lose. Don’t put your hands on me tho….

  • IllyPhilly

    The people that don’t argue more than likely are not scared. They just are smart enough to know their anger will lead them to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I have many “nerdy” comrades who are trained Army killers and I’ve seen a few just laugh when some simple minded person provokes them. They know that their careers, kids, or whatever is not worth losing. Case and point that bus driver’s life will never be the same because he self esteem was just that low.

  • Stylnista

    Well put, good article. I have noticed too, that the behavior of some people on internet sites is out of control. Many people are seeking validation of their opinions & thoughts. && like the writer said trolling sites provoking verbal altercations. This foolishness seems greatest amongst people old enough to know better. Its stupid at best. && to anyone guilty of are you really winning? Logging on to your PC or smart phone to check a stranger in hopes for validated ditto’s , u set them straight & likes from other strangers? They key word here is stranger. So y set yourself up play yourself for ones approval
    when if it came to a real life verbal bash you nor you fanclub would

    • Stylnista

      Behave in such a way knowing u can it. Still its not that serious even then. Because we all have a voice & most people will listen & hear you out as long as you leave the bones thugs approach at home. Now that there is how you get respect.

  • You have to ask yourself, does your “win” really count? Are you winning in trivial things that don’t really matter. Sure you may win an internet argument. But does that really count for much. I have studied human behavior, and humans are wired to win. No matter how wrong they may be. That’s why you have people who cling to their beliefs no matter how much you prove them wrong or people who continue to fight someone even though they know they’re getting their arse beat, or when someone just HAS to get the last word. It’s human nature

    • SMHgurl24

      So if its human nature why am I and others not wired like that? Imo beliefs and facts go into two separate categories (buts thats another story). I think it has alot to do w/ ego and cultural upbringing . There are some people who are dead set on wining every fight and then there are others who wouldn’t give a crap. In todays society many people are taught that flexing their muscles will bring them respect and its reinforced by either getting”famous” online or being egged on by the crowd. I just got done watching a video of a teacher squaring off w/ a student resulting in the student pushing the teacher.

      • SMHgurl24

        Teacher responded by retailiating and chasing the student around the classroom. Teacher probably got fired all b/c he wanted to show him who “was the boss”. Now another teacher would have gone right over to the phone and called up security to remove the student so it really couldn’t be human nature if there were two possible outcomes ya know? I think ppl just need to learn self control. Try to remember that whenever somebody is trying to piss you off, they’re doing it for themselves to look good and depending on your reaction it may or may not work.

  • KamJos

    When I used to teach middle school (at predominantly Black and Hispanic schools), it was virtually impossible to get children to just “let things go”. Almost every perceived slight escalated into anger and almost every student wanted to win a fight. Growing up I used to see the same behavior on the subway and buses when school let out. There’s a problem, but no one wants to admit there is one and no one wants to fix it.

    When I was a teacher I could use my authority to fix these problems (and students generally gave me a lot of respect) but now it’s much easier to move to another subway car, or just avoid the conflict. These kids are crazy.

    • Alohilani

      “There’s a problem, but no one wants to admit there is one and no one wants to fix it.”

      That isn’t true at all. An issue is that the behavior is so ingrained in certain people that it is normal to them. There are many people who acknowledge and what to change this, but it is hard because the people who are the problem do not want change.

    • Nikki

      When people bring up the problem, the one’s that cause the problem tend to deny that it exists or they tend to not want to be pro-active in making a change.

  • Pivyque

    I have to agree with you. I don’t argue. I’ll state my piece and listen to a response as long as it’s respectful. People seem to only act based on emotions and not really think about things. I think that is the real problem.

  • MIYO K.

    ignorant |ˈignərənt|adjective lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated: he was told constantly that he was ignorant and stupid.•

    [ predic. ] lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: “they were ignorant of astronomy.•

    informal discourteous or rude: this ignorant, pin-brained receptionist.•

    black English easily angered: I is an ignorant man—even police don’t meddle with me.

    • Nikki


  • SheBe

    “…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.” >>>>truthalldamndaydotorg!!!! Flexing your E-balls eh? Just choose your battles wisely.

    • Cleo

      I never understood why people troll on the Internet lol it’s like you really have nothing else to do?

      • Allie

        I think more then anything, they enjoy getting a rise out of people..I’ve been visiting blog sites for about two years now and it took a little while for me to realize what these trolls’ intentions really are/were, it’s also hard for people not to feed into their bait and add fuel to their fire

        • SheBe

          That’s true too. I always wonder if they have no friends or have scared them all off because of their combative/ obnoxious behavior. I know you can take on an entirely different personality online but to be purposefully snarky and asinine is a bit much.

          • SheBe


      • SheBe

        IKR! I almost feel like the author was reading my mind and also trying to speak to a few frequent posters on this site. 😉 (not you but others. You know who.)

        • Cleo

          I honestly think a lot of the male posters are like all the crap they post is just ridiculous, I can’t imagine an actual human being thinking that way.

          • SheBe

            I laugh at that foolery! I’m with you though. I HOPE that they are not like that; at least not in public. Furthermore I hope I never meet anybody that’s like that!

      • chanela

        yes! sometimes you get bored and you want to say something out of pocket to get a reaction out of people.i’ve done this before a longgg time ago on webcam websites. and people getting upset at your silly comments are actually pretty funny.

  • MIYO K.

    The word’ ignorant’ is being misused in the title. These two bus incidents had nothing to do with ignorance, but poor behavior.

    As far as the Baltimore bus incident – The bus driver could have asked the girl to get off of the bus, as they have the right to do so if someone is not following the rules. It wasn’t wrong for her to acknowledge the ‘foolishness’, but it was definitely wrong for her to initiate a physical attack on the girl.