The Message vs. The Messenger

It’s election season and there is no escaping politics anywhere. One trend that I’ve observed in partisan politics is that the message is often overridden by who the messenger is. In other words, if you are an exponent of the person delivering the message, you will more often than not dismiss what that person has to say. The reverse is also true. If you are a proponent of the person, it might not matter what that person has to say. You will most likely tend to agree with that person or at least choose only what you want to hear.

It’s not just politics. The prop community shares the same characteristics, as I have seen in a couple of my posts (Good Riddance and Community Forums and Message Boards, take 2), as well as on the RPF. There are instances of alleged trolls asking pointed and maybe uncomfortable questions. Yet, they were dismissed as trolling and so the questions were ignored.

Are the questions any less valid, trolls or agendas notwithstanding? Is the message nullified because of its source? If the question is valid, and the message states a truth, does it matter what the source is or who is asking, whether it was me, for example, or some anonymous troll with an agenda? If a person you don’t like presents valid points in his or her arguments, would you still automatically dismiss the person and the argument?

Conversely, if a person you like makes a false statement or an outlandish claim, would you correct that person? Or do you keep quiet and give that person a pass? This type of selective hearing can frustrate any open discourse because what really is important–the message–is then overshadowed by prejudicial sentiments.

Opinions? Obviously I am speaking very generally here, but I’m sure specific examples are abundant.

3 comments

  1. Art Andrews says:

    Does the messenger taint the message? Absolutely! It sucks, but in most cases that individual has no one to blame but themselves and their previous actions.

    We see this on the RPF all the time. There are certain individuals who LOVE to stir the pot for no other reason than to see if they can make people jump through hoops and bark on command. When we see and mark an individual like that it makes it very difficult to take them seriously or to differentiate when they are playing games from when they are not.

    One of the primary complaints from my detractors at the RPF is that I misjudge them or their intentions. These scenarios usually play out as follows: Troublemaker X makes 99 jackass posts that are baiting/trolling/troublemaking then makes 1 serious post. The serious post doesn’t really look any different than the 99 jackass posts and since we are so used to seeing the jackassery (is that even a word?) we tend to dismiss the 1 serious post. And then Troublemaker X gets upset and offended and says we aren’t judging him fairly. My response is that you sleep in the bed that you make. If you don’t want to be labelled a troublemaker, then don’t be a troublemaker the majority of the time.

    Questions from a troll aren’t less valid, but one has to be wise into who they answer and who they ignore and one shouldn’t feel the need to respond to a trolls baiting. With that being said, you don’t have to shy away from uncomfortable questions, but you can choose the time and place of your battles or when and where you make your stand. You don’t have to do it at the demand of someone else, especially if you know you are walking into a trap. if I am called out by someone who isn’t really looking for an answer, but instead is looking for a fight or looking to embarrass me, I will often ignore them, but will indirectly respond to the subject they brought up elsewhere so those who might sincerely have the same question will be able to see where I stand or why I made a decision.

    In regard to the converse situation, I have lost a lot of friends over the years because I wouldn’t stand up for them when they were wrong. This comes back to your questions about bias. I love my friends and when they are in the right, I will fight, tooth and nail for them. But when they are wrong, I can’t support them or defend them. I wouldn’t expect them to do that for me either. If I am wrong, I want them to tell me I am wrong so I can make corrections and either fix the current situation or do better the next time. I have come to find that most people don’t appreciate this stance and expect you to support them blindly, no matter how right or wrong they are. I simply cannot do that.

  2. David says:

    Art, it looks like The RPF is full of challenges. It looks like you have your hands full!
    You presented your case about troublemakers and detractors quite well. The way you handle questions from “trolls” looks quite effective.

    On the flip side, I don’t think these RPF challenges automatically apply to this relatively new HAXBEE blog. I am referring to some posters labeling others as a “troll” on this blog when there is no evidence to support such a finding. I recommend re-reading the comment section of the “Good Riddance” post. When did the “trolling” and “calling out” begin?

    Those who have a clean past cannot be embarrassed. I also question why anyone would think they are “walking into a trap” when they are asked a question. If one has a clear conscience one cannot be “trapped.”
    Lastly, friends are not true friends if they ask you to something that is morally, ethically or legally wrong. I believe the true meaning of a friend has been lost in today’s society.

    David Pearson

  3. Art Andrews says:

    David,

    Calling someone a troll when there is no history of trollish behavior is just an easy way for some people to feel justified in dismissing the comments of someone they don’t agree with. I would say that is the case in the “Good Riddance” postings.

    You are somewhat right that those who have a clean past cannot be embarrassed (I would use the word “shamed’ instead of embarrassed, but overall I agree). However, having a clear conscience does not automatically eliminate the possibility of being “trapped” in clever wordplay that can be crafted in such a way as to misconstrue ones responses and actions. There are some very clever people on the internet who are absolute wordsmiths and find great pleasure into trying to trip someone up and make them appear foolish, whether that individual is in the wrong or not. If you have been around these type of individuals long enough you can indeed spot them setting a “trap” for you after you have fallen into one or two of them in the past. You come to find that certain questions aren’t asked because an honest answer is desired, but it being asked either to needle you or in the hopes that you will offer up something that can be purposefully misconstrued. Lawyers like to do those kind of things.

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