Questions to Consider Before Responding to That Public Call Out

cat fight

When someone with a much smaller platform than the one you have calls you out publicly, why do you feel a need to respond instead of just ignoring them? I suppose there are some reasons it might make sense to do so, but I'd encourage you at least pause to consider two possibilities before you do so. First, ask yourself whether the person calling you out is merely seeking attention. You have a larger following and a bigger platform than they do. Perhaps targeting you like this is little more than a ploy to elevate their status, which is what will happen as soon as you make a public response. The second possibility will be harder to assess and seem less likely, but please consider the possibility that you are about to walk into a trap.

I understand that the urge to defend yourself is strong, especially when whatever you are being called out for seems absurd (which it usually does). In fact, I'd suggest that the more absurd it seems the more likely it is that you are being baited. If I start publicly accusing you of some sort of nonsense, you are going to want to respond because the allegation is now out there. If my allegation is sufficiently bizarre, you are going to worry that it will receive attention and that you will look guilty if you ignore it. Be careful here, though. It is likely that I am just baiting you into responding to benefit myself, as part of an attempt to harm you, or both. That's the trap.

There isn't any surefire way to determine whether this is what is happening. Even if there was, it wouldn't necessarily mean you should never respond. What I am suggesting is that you at least pause to consider these possibilities as you decide if and how to respond. I'd also recommend giving some thought to what you will do when your response is deemed insufficient by the person calling you out and their supporters, which will almost always be the case. Are you willing to elevate this person's status by showering them with lots of public attention? And if it turns out that they are trying to hurt you, how long will you participate in their efforts to do so?

I am not claiming that anything like what I have mentioned here is taking place in this fascinating situation involving the Secular Coalition for America, but I wouldn't rule it out either (see update note below). The Secular Coalition is free to respond however they want, of course. I am not sure I would have responded, at least not publicly. But if I had responded like this, I believe I would anticipate that my response may do little to resolve the situation. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

To recap, I am not saying you should respond in a situation like this. I am suggesting that you pause and think through where your desire to respond might lead. That way, you will be making a more informed and hopefully better decision.

Update: It appears that the Secular Coalition for American must have changed their mind because they aburptly deleted the post to which I had linked here, a post in which they had provided a lengthy response to complaints received from Republican Atheists.