So today I got into an argument on the internet. I laid out precisely what was wrong with the post that bothered me, as cleanly and neatly as possible. I was perhaps a bit sharp. The original poster certainly thought so. She answered me fiercely, and her post included a link to her personal blog. Worried I'd gone too far too soon based on the tone of her response--but unwilling to cede any ground based on the content her response--I took a step back, a deep breath and restated my position in a slightly more easy to understand way.
Then I glanced at the personal blog. Like most of us, she had a twitter widget. A multi-tweet widget, and the most recent tweet expressed happiness that someone got "really angry" (which was untrue, I'd been angry but not enough to break out any of the dark metaphors I'm so fond of in my rants) over something she wrote, and giddy expectation of the hit increase over the fight.
And suddenly all the fight was deflated from me.
Anyone who reads me knows I love an argument. I love when two people who really stand behind what they believe get into it. I love the intellectual part of the discussion, the careful sifting of your opponent's opinion for weak spots and the distillation of your own point of view into its basic essence. I love strengthening my arguments and sharpening my mind. I love trying to come up with the most clever word to leave on. I love getting angry and arguing with someone who's just as passionate as me about what she believes.
Despite what it may seem, I really don't like getting angry for anger and attention's sake and I especially don't like dealing with those who do. I love getting angry for channeling it into something productive. I love anger as a purifier, as inspiration for cutting phrases and complex metaphors.
I want to interact with people with guts and honesty or least some creativity and energy no matter what side they're on. I want to fight someone who knows the rules of the duel, who even if they aren't invested beyond playing Devil's Advocate puts a little heart into the fight. It gives me energy and between the two sides we can make something really worth reading if we're both in top shape.
But here I've encountered someone who was anticipating the attention of a fight, just as she was saying in the comments that she didn't want a Blogwar. Knowing about that disconnect... it takes the fun out of a fight. If the other guy isn't really as angry as you are, and isn't primarily concerned with getting as clear and pure a point across as possible... It's just not worth fighting over anymore.
And all that lovely rage turns to sadness in the face of insincerity, and I'm listless where I should be inspired.
It's a little like finding out a friend was only pretending to like you.
Better that I would have lost on the mental battleground, because then I would have either a new friend gained by an apology or the seed of vengeance planted in my heart and all the fire that grew from it. Instead I've got a dull feeling at the bottom of my stomach.
I miss my trolls.