Sometimes one begins a conversation on social networks and after a few short exchanges it suddenly stops, your interlocutor rejects what you have been saying with a short sharp rejoinder, like a verbal slap in the face. What is to be done? Such is life. My reply is simple:
This is not up to the level of the rest of the exchange as I understood it. This is a pity as I put time and effort into formulating and arguing for my ideas and for my perspective, which are inhabitual, I grant you that. Such crushing quick dismissals are an unfortunate practice of intellectual discussion and do no work.
Nowhere do I say what you mock me for saying. I am disappointed as what I thought were the beginnings of an open dialogue turn out to have been a closed discussion all along. It is counter-productive. I have no time for such things.
There is no shame in opening discussions, in trying to bring about dialogue, in initiating free exchanges, in contributing to the debate. The shame is on the other side, that of those who will never feel it, who find their behaviour normal.
One cannot allow oneself to be paralysed or discouraged by these outcomes, despite their frequency and their probability. We know that the probable outcome is disappointment or worse. This is described by the Stoics’ recitation of adversity, and the injunction to prepare yourself for the worst.
But we go on in the expectation of the improbable, of the event, of the unlikely encounter. We continue to expect the unexpected, which sometimes happens and often doesn’t.
That’s how we think and that’s how we live. It’s also how the universe works, according to the thinkers we love.