Quit While You’re Ahead

by RS on December 6, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Facebook continues. The one thing I keep relearning in the world of social media is to just quit while you’re ahead. In other words, if you get involved in a debate with someone on a thread that you know won’t end well, bow out gracefully and leave it alone. But remember, I rarely follow my own advice as I wrote in The Filter is Your Friend.

For example, a writer friend and psychotherapist had commented that we were taking a step behind when it came to eating disorders when the 19 year old model Karlie Kloss was proclaimed “The Body” as reported in the UK’s Daily Mail. Only a couple of comments criticized the fashion industry’s obsession with extreme thinness, while the majority were jeers towards the model, comparing her to a camp refugee and saying that she was creepy and disgusting. While a few were lamenting why we couldn’t hold Marilyn Monroe’s body type as the favored one.

There’s no question that Karlie is slender, but she has muscle tone and that comes from her training as a dancer. Yep, our Karlie studied ballet at a pretty prestigious dance school in St Louis. I won’t get into the rigors of ballet, but it does explain those very elongated muscles that one person called “spidery.”

The point was that holding Marilyn’s physique as an ideal was off because Marilyn, for a good portion of her career was fat. Not obese, but she carried some heft on her 5’5” frame.  What got me in trouble was I used the adjective “fat,” which among the PC Police is taboo. (Why did I say it? Honestly, it was the first word that came to mind and I was typing quickly.) So I got jumped on it, but I continued to defend Karlie’s weight and my position that Marilyn was fat (with the exception of her Misfits days and in the Last Sitting with Bert Stern). I suppose if I had used “zaftig” or “buxom” I wouldn’t have raised so many hackles.

The next example had to do with Herman Cain announcing he was dropping his campaign for president. The comments strayed to Paul Krugman’s recent op-ed piece, ‘Send in the Clueless.’ I always agree with Dr. Krugman, but I believe  the system is broken—we have the same old players getting recycled from one election to the next. I’m dismayed by the passivity shown by the majority of Americans and also their ignorance about political matters. Except I didn’t phrase it that way, I called them lemmings—just following one another and letting things happen no matter the consequences. What occurred was a back and forth argument that no longer made sense, the specifics don’t matter, but the point I’m trying to make is when it gets into that realm of nonsense there’s no purpose to continue especially if you’re arguing from two very different ideological viewpoints.

Thus, the astute counsel I give to all my social media clients, especially those who are building a platform, is the same advice your wise mother gave you when you were about to meet your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s family for the first time: don’t bring up politics, religion, sex, or fat, (and dead) actresses.

6 comments
Catherine
Catherine

Great post, Rebeca! I too love getting in that last word (especially about religion or politics) and wish people were more open to various opinions and not so defensive. The Karlie/Marilyn debate is one thing, but sometimes those lemmings just have to be called out for what they are, when the stakes are so high. But you're right, pick your battles, and know when to quit. I'm trying...

Karen
Karen

It's very easy to get caught up in a "comment war." Agree to disagree is also the best route. But, oh so easy to fall into the trap of just one more comment.

Rhonda
Rhonda

Love this post, Rebecca. I will tell my debate-mongering son to read this one. This is advice we all should heed. Well said.

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