Earlier today I posted an article discussing the breakdown of polite disagreements about personal finance.
I cited two examples of this breakdown of polite conversation. The first example was the Suze Orman drama (long story short: she called a finance blogger an “idiot” for disagreeing with her. Read the full story here.) I cited a second example of a reader who used the word “idiot” twice because he disagreed with my definition of debt vs. leverage.
The point of my post was that polite debate is welcome, but name-calling is not.
IRONICALLY, that post triggered a slew of hateful responses. Most of my readers disagreed with me in a polite manner, and I thank them for that. But several readers barraged me with a long string of vicious and hate-filled remarks. (For obvious reasons, I did not approve those comments to be visible on this site.) These readers said things that were much worse than the original examples that I cited.
Finance bloggers disagree on all types of terminology. PK and Cameron — two writers on the site Don’t Quit Your Day Job — wrote point/counterpoint posts in which they disagreed with each other about the traditional definition of the word “savings.” (They hosted a two-person debate on “How to Define ‘Savings.'”) Similarly, I believe that the traditional use of the word “debt” is insufficient. I’ve also argued that the traditional definition of “millionaire” is insufficient.
These disagreements are common. Finance writers could spend years debating the definition of words like “savings” and “asset” and “millionaire” and “debt.” These terms are highly open to interpretation. No one should be subject to cruel remarks because we disagree about traditional definitions of finance terms.
As I said in my last post — it’s appropriate to say “I disagree” or to pose questions, but it’s wrong to devolve into name-calling and harsh language.
I have taken down my post from earlier today — the post that triggered such a vicious backlash. I do not understand why it has triggered some readers to comment with 4-letter (and 5-letter) words. Regardless, I prefer to get rid of the catalyst that is sparking hateful and cruel attacks.
And again, I will end this post with a plea for polite, civilized and rational dialogue. Personal finance is a controversial topic that raises a lot of emotions, but we should not allow it to devolve into the same incivility often found in politics.