The first time the term “Pick your battles” clicked with me was over a game of tabletop D&D.
My group was doing battle with this elemental wizard, see. He’d sent a large wall of sand flying towards us at an alarming rate. With every role it got worse. The Paladin before me had the bright idea of shooting a jet of scalding flame from his magic sword at the offending mobile beach, only to change our sandy fate to a wall of white hot glass. Stupid Paladins.
So, I decided to do the only thing my simple thief could think of.
I put my head between my legs, and took no damage that round.
Picking your battles is something not a lot of people do nowadays. Granted, I still cherish the occasional roundabout debate that goes nowhere, but it usually stays where I’m comfortable. Friends, people I trust, people I know won’t take me personally, and people I actually give a crap about.
Again, if you’re the argumentative type, more power to you. I just don’t have that kind of time.
This came into play at two of my recent workplaces in the past few years. The first was a battle I chose to fight. I had a manager who openly disliked me. Nothing I could do would make her any less sour towards me. Apparently I was everything she hated. Liberal, nerdy, well liked and happy, I guess. After a few months of her treatment (Which included my staff and my customers regaling me with her personal comments on a daily basis) I finally snapped. However, I snapped knowing that without me, she would have been utterly screwed. She wanted nothing to do with the actual clientele of her business on a daily basis, and without me, she would have had to set aside her dreams of corporate America and come swim with the little fish 6 days a week. We came to an understanding after that. I don’t think we ever hugged or anything, but she finally realized that beyond the gaming, horror cons and graphic novels stood a fully functioning adult female quite capable of defending herself. That was a battle worth fighting.
At another job, I was readily thrown under the bus by a co-worker after being publicly told off in a pretty embarrassing manor. My first instinct was to argue my innocence, but I decided to take stock in my situation. Apologize and move on, or fight what was likely a losing battle and take someone down who frankly got enough crap there as it is. This battle was best left sucked up and forgotten. It was simply not worth the effort.
I never, ever, ever fight on the internet. Oh I am tempted, but there’s nothing to gain. I have a position in my life as a GM where I attempt to put out epic net arguments on a weekly basis. A sort of unpaid human resources department. I’ve watched so many people run into a proverbial room full of unarmed men with guns blazing, fingers poised to shoot at anything that moves in a direction they don’t like. Business being made personal, veiled insults, all of it. Completely pointless. I’ll watch people on Facebook go at one another, derail topics ad nauseum, and come off with some of the most well written retorts humanly possible. Of course, they have the information highway at their fingertips, and infinite time to drive.
By the way, I can totally tell if you Google statistics, stupid.
One of the biggest keys to find out whether a battle is worth fighting is simply the effect it will have if you win. Will you prosper without squashing anyone’s feelings? Will others benefit from your actions? Will the person you’re speaking to listen? Are you doing this to feel superior, or because it’s just right?
My battles are not yours, and as previously discussed, my way is not the highway. Some people adore arguing and I won’t lie, I adore reading it. Especially when I agree with you. It’s my little Maury Povich guilty secret.
Internet aside, when you feel the white hot rage of injustice well up inside of you, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Look at the person you’re fighting against. Are THEY worth it?
We’ll end with a personal example of a battle I thought was worth fighting. A former man in my life would stop at nothing to make me feel like hell on a daily basis. He saw that I struggled with esteem, that I was in a rough place in my life. Instead of support it, he exploited it. He was battling his own demons, and I represented a soft place to throw daggers. One day I grew back my balls, and he broke up with me. I hold him no ill will, but I thank goodness every day that I knew exactly how to get him out of my life. Fight back.
The types of battles worth fighting for involve ignorance, bigotry, racism, chauvinism, human rights. Big stuff. Being able to play a Pegasus unicorn elf hybrid, or covering your ass from rubber bullets, not so much.