3 Questions to Stop Wasting Valuable Energy on Meaningless Arguments

“Laia!” I shouted. “What’s a bad word for a woman that starts with a K and ends with an N?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” my wife shot back. “English is your first language, not mine!”

“I’m not sure. Someone just left a comment on one of my articles saying I was a K that ends with an N. Any clue what she’s talking about?”

“Google it!” she screamed from her office. “I gotta finish something for work!”

“I think she’s implying I’m the male version of a Karen,” I said moments later in a questionable voice. “Is that bad?”

“Oh yeah,” my wife shouted. “Karen sounds about right!”

“Are you laughing? Why are you laughing? Google says Karen is a member of an indigenous people of eastern Burma and western Thailand.”

“It’s not Burma anymore you idiot, it’s Myanmar.” Keep looking!” she shouted with unmasked joy in her voice.

Before I even had a chance to scroll down further my wife was standing next to me shuffling her feet with what can only be described as pure glee.

“Are you dancing? Why are you dancing? I thought you had work to do?” I snarled while scrolling through Google definitions surprised by the flexibility of the word Karen.

“Sorry, I can’t help it. This is fun!”

“There it is! There it is!” she screamed so loudly I swore she began levitating “Read there!”

I steadied my jittery hand and scrolled to where my wife was pointing —

Karen is a pejorative term for women seeming to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal. The term also refers to memes depicting white women who use their privilege to demand their own way.

After doing one last Google search to learn “pejorative” wasn’t a good thing either, I sat back in disgust.

“Me? A K that ends with an N? The nerve of that woman. All I was trying to say in that article she read was sometimes it’s okay to complain!”

“Take a deep breath!” my wife said knowing damn well what I was thinking. “You have like twenty positive comments on this article and you’re focusing on the only negative one. Do you really want to waste your time arguing with a woman you’ll never meet?”

“Here, move over,” she said. “That dude James Clear just shared something in his newsletter that may help.”

“I thought you said you hated self-help?” I said in a beaten voice. “You read James Clear, but I have to ask you to clap for my articles?”

“Don’t take it personally — you know you’re not even remotely on the same level as him.”

“First I learn that I’m a Karen, and now my wife is telling me she prefers Captain Habits over her own husband.”

“Shut up and read this, it could potentially save you from a ton of headaches in the future!”

I grabbed my wife’s phone and begrudgingly read James’s advice. It took me all of two seconds to realize the three questions he shared were worth remembering —

  1. Does this need to be said?
  2. Does this need to be said by me?
  3. Does this need to be said by me right now?

I looked and my wife. I looked back at the woman’s comment. I looked back at the questions. And then, in a moment of pure bliss, I spent 5 minutes writing out the ultimate response to the woman’s comment before promptly deleting it and closing my computer.

Granted, James may have been providing advice on questions to ask yourself when you’re in a face-to-face argument so you don’t turn a barely lit match into a scorched house.

But his words also serve as a solid reminder to not fall into the online trap of going piss for piss with someone over a difference of opinion.

Plus, in all the years I’ve been on social media, I can recall very few times when an online argument ended with the words, “Hey, you know what? You’re right and I’m wrong! Let’s do a virtual toast to cement our new friendship!”

Remember this the next time someone leaves a comment that makes your blood beat red. Ask yourself if what you want to say needs to be said. Remind yourself that taking the bait on negative comments rarely ends up being a productive use of your time.

I wasn’t thrilled with learning I was a K that ends with an N. And I’m sure as hell not happy about the fact it’s my wife’s new nickname for me.

But I’m glad it happened.

The experience reminded me that the more energy we waste on meaningless things the less energy we have for meaningful things.

Co-creator of 2 boys with my dream girl • Observer • Catalunya • Career coach • Business Insider, Fast Co., Forge • Join 40K+ others for weekly stories

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