Actor Dylan Marron of Welcome to Nightvale introduced the Conversations With People Who Hate Me podcast earlier this year. The title is self-explanatory. People send him hate messages quite frequently because the Internet can be a cesspool, especially when it comes to activists and outspoken kind hearts like Dylan. He’s a target for the trolls. Instead of letting them launch him into negativity, though, he has turned it into a thought-provoking podcast.
I am, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by this podcast. I’m about four or five episodes in at this point, and it’s been great to hear a productive conversation between two people who enter it (and, in some cases, leave as well) with vastly different views of the world. To an extent, I am taking these interactions with a grain of salt, because I’m not sure about the details on how Dylan prepares himself and these individuals for the recordings.
The more I listen to the podcast, the more I’ve realized something. There has been a slow build-up for me internally over the years, and it probably culminated on Election Day in 2016.
I genuinely do not believe that I have the time or the patience to entertain a conversation like the ones Dylan showcases in the podcast. Allow me to explain.
Dylan often says, “Remember: there’s another person on the other side of that screen.” That is sage advice, because it is one hundred percent true.
And that fact is exactly why I cannot speak to those people.
I simply can’t move past the idea that they used their time in front of that screen to spew negativity onto someone else. Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right, but I can’t promise that I’m going to have any desire to hug it out with them after that, especially when the person in question is a grown adult.
You should know better and if you weren’t taught to know better, then you should make a concerted effort to teach yourself otherwise. It’s not easy, that I cannot deny. However, with the resources and wealth of information that is in our lives now, it is possible.
Even in my most enraged moments, I would never tag someone and launch into a hate-filled speech about why they’re the scum of the earth. Has it been tempting to tell someone off? Sure. I’ve had my share of confrontations brewing in my Twitter mentions, but that’s what the block button is for. I have neither the time nor the inclination to reply to their nonsense.
Conservatives nowadays are quick to explain that they don’t hate any particular group of people and aren’t out to hurt anyone (although it should be noted that not all of Dylan’s guests identify as conservative). Some have made statements along those lines on the podcast, though.
However, their actions say something entirely different. Do we all make mistakes, sometimes in the heat of the moment? Sure, we do. But I see these mistakes made by various people throughout the course of a day enough times to make my head spin. The amount of hateful comments on the Internet only seems to grow by the hour. I do not believe I could sit down and have a rational conversation with these people. In a lot of ways, they scare me with the amount of hatred that they seem to hold in their spirits.
There are differing opinions in this life. However, when your opinions seem to target people and wish them ill will, I cannot bring myself to sit down and try to see your side of things.
On that note, props to Dylan Marron for being a bigger person than I am in this respect. I thoroughly enjoy this podcast and I think it’s sending some much-needed light into the world. If you can do what he does in your daily life, whether that is with family members, friends, or a total stranger, I totally encourage it.
As for whether I will move to that phase in my own life, though, it remains to be seen.
Bradleigh is a co-founder and content curator for The Sirens Rise with a BA in Media Studies. Her favorite things to do are listen to music, get lost in a book, write for hours, and eat way more chocolate than one human being ever should.