The doctor recently diagnosed me with a serious case of Right-itis.
He claims that I have a complete need to be right in any given situation. Nonsense. Anyone who’s met me will know I’m not even slightly competitive or argumentative. Cough.
I jest, but lately I’ve been pondering this need so many of us have to be RIGHT. I think sometimes we pursue it at the expense of our happiness. I recently found myself in the middle of a spat between two friends. Both convinced they were right, slinging insults across the ether, neither was prepared to just down weapons and walk away.
Chatting to one of the women on the phone, I asked, “Is this making you happy?” The woman replied, “No, but I want people to know I’m right.”
It didn’t sound like much of a victory to me.
It’s the hardest advice in the world to take sometimes, but it really is better to be happy than to be right.
Maybe you’re reading this and you think I’m a terrible writer. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re not. But does arguing about it benefit either of us? Why don’t you go on thinking what you think, and I’ll carry on living my life? That feels a lot more like winning, to me.
I’m thinking about this issue at the moment after watching an even bigger, nastier row in the blogosphere between US Mommy bloggers. Seriously, it makes us look like pussy cats. With no claws.
Long story short, blogger was caught plagiarising from another blogger. Offending blogger was outed, and apologized. That could have been an end to things, but some people felt they needed to demonstrate how RIGHT they were to be outraged and how WRONG the plagiarist was to try and excuse herself.
The result was the sort of behaviour we’d be horrified to see in five year olds, to be honest. There were snarky mock-ups of the blogger’s site, complete with barbs about her attractiveness and her husband. There was even – brace yourself – a blogging meme, invented just to make the point that the plagiarist is a terrible person. Bloggers emailed and telephoned her advertisers, urging them to withdraw support.
Plagiarism is a bad thing. I’m a writer. You don’t need to convince me of that. But bullying is also a bad thing. People don’t die from plagiarism. They do from bullying. Let’s try and keep things in perspective, shall we?
You might think you’re right but when you find yourself creating an Internet meme about someone else, maybe, just maybe you’re no longer in the right. You’ve just got right-itis.