While browsing various social networking sites, I come across a phenomenon fairly often. A person will make a statement. When someone replies to said statement with some sort of disagreement with the original statement, one of several things may happen:
1) The responder will be called a troll, and be bullied into silence.
2) Some "kind soul" will tell the responder that the original poster should be supported in their statement, not disagreed with.
3) Intelligent discourse will occur, and all parties involved will come to some greater understanding of one another.
In my experience, the third option is the least likely to happen. I've had the first two happen to me multiple times while disagreeing with someone. I have some advice for both of these instances.
In the case of thinking someone is a troll, honestly try to look at the other person's perspective. Maybe they simply disagree with you. Maybe this is a topic they feel strongly about, and you are denigrating their opinions because you feel bad that you said something which offended them. Neither of these calls for you shutting them down by calling them a troll. If you don't want criticism about your point of view, then don't post it in a public setting. Make sure you filter it to reach a target audience. I do this all the time. If I can't take the shit that people may deal out, because the topic is a sensitive one for me, guess what, I only post it to people who will be supportive of me! And if I'm being an ass, they will let me know, gently, that I'm being an ass.
As for the second point, to all you "kind souls" out there, trust me, I know where you're coming from. I'm all about defending my friends. I volunteer for Child Advocates *because* I know that there are people out there who need someone to speak on their behalf. But, please keep in mind, when you speak on someone else's behalf, you're saying that they can't speak for themselves. That they do not have the ability or the will to do so. Personally, when someone "defends" me, I appreciate the thought, but hate the action. I can speak for myself! In addition, what my "kind soul" friends might say may not be my point of view.
Finally, I welcome debate. I look forward to a good one. I know many of my friends and acquaintances do as well. We look forward to seeing someone else's point of view. Perhaps, just maybe, I may change my opinion on a subject because the person I'm debating has brought up some salient points. It's been known to happen, and the reverse has also occurred as well.
So, please, filter posts if you don't want negative comments, and let people defend themselves. Enjoy other points of view, and celebrate our diversity.