The Strawman, Confrontation and Meetings

The same day that I announced our Pro-Social Behavior Workshop, I also happened to notice the image of someone accused of a serious Code of Conduct violating prominently displayed on someone’s Facebook page. I asked the two people I knew with editing abilities to remove that image.

I had no expectations, but thought I would ask. The first person did remove the image once they realized they had those abilities. The second person responded with confusion (“what are you talking about?”) because it had already been removed after they checked. I informed them of this fact, happy something positive had been done.

Come to find out, the second person wasn’t done with me. They must have thought my request was an attack on them because they immediately texted me back with a personal complaint against me. I deleted our message thread, but thought better of it, texting back with “You’re welcome to set up a meeting with me to address your concerns, [name removed]. Email is preferred. Thanks”

Then they chose to escalate the matters, accusing me of a position I don’t hold. According to this article, “In the straw man fallacy, someone attacks a position the opponent doesn’t really hold. Instead of contending with the actual argument, he or she instead attacks the equivalent of a lifeless bundle of straw, an easily defeated effigy, which the opponent never intended upon defending anyway.”

The strange thing that I struggle with is that an actual argument didn’t exist. Not only did this scene leader manufacture an argument, but they conjured a strawman when I offered a one-on-one meeting to work things out. They then asked me to stop contacting them and blocked me on Facebook later that evening. Not only did they create a false position for me to try defending, they removed any agency I had for reaching out to them.

Here’s my takeaway. From my experience, if you want to get something done, call the person or arrange a meeting. Be willing to speak with the person and listen to their experience because it is unique to them. Their truth may not be your truth, but it doesn’t make invalidate their opinion. You might have to work harder to understand them. When you begin answering their questions or concerns, be patient and thorough. Know that rarely does a person want to be confronted with an ugly truth including you.

I believe personal is better. Tones can get muddied on other electronic forms and sometimes we forget that this person is real and not their online avatar.