Recently, I’ve been turning considerably more taciturn on the Net than I used to be. This takes various forms. Possibly the most conspicuous is posting less at Fòram na Gàidhlig. Sending less links to my friends is an example of the same process. However, at the moment I’m most satisfied with the way I’ve handled (well, one isn’t closed yet, but never mind) the two votes I took in en-wikt.
Satisfied with turning taciturn? Precisely. I’ve never liked those guys who always had to have their say whatever the topic. In real life I’ve been mostly prevented from becoming one by the fact that, being somewhat slow of thinking and at the same time a striver for careful phrasing (which is another way of saying a hairsplitter), by the time I was ready to say my piece the conversation had already moved elsewhere.
Online, however, there’s nothing unusual about returning to an earlier part of some thread even after several days. The possibility of being heard much more than I was used to was therefore very intoxicating. So much so, in fact, as to often make me react too fast, even rashly. I reckon there are two things that helped me start slowing down again. First, the realisation that I am becoming something I always disapproved of. Second, the time-expensiveness of all that talking. (One of the reasons of creating this site was related to them both: to have a place for letting off steam, but in words which wouldn’t embarrass me the following day, rather than commenting on the same issue in a slapdash manner at a dozen different places.)
So I’m even a bit proud of the way I’ve handled the two votes. Each time, shortly after I voted, somebody reacted in such a way that it was highly tempting to give them a quick and sharp retort. (After which they would retort back, after which…) Instead, I did reassess my standpoints, I did compose concise anwers to their arguments, but only in my mind. I took my time in phrasing those answers, in the meantime cooled off – and saw that I didn’t have to, as I had mistakenly assumed, explain myself further. That the simple fact of not having changed my vote said “I see your point but don’t find it convincing” – and that civility didn’t oblige me to explain why.
Nevertheless, in future I only mean to vote on matters I’ll find crucial, or just about so. I spend no small amount of time each day checking my ‘pedia an en-wikt watchlists already…