One of the hardest things for a typically accommodating personality to do is decide who not to spend energy talking to. I’ve had to do it a few times over the last decade, and it’s not been something that’s ever felt good to me, not while I’m in the midst of it.
Choosing not to respond to “comment bait,” comments designed to provoke, or choosing not to engage Just Asking A Question™ means choosing to opt out of unproductive or [passive-]aggressive interactions.
It allows you to exert effort where it might bear fruit and not fritter it away where others don’t or can’t value it.
The advocacy world’s movable middle concept is one way to organize the decision of stepping into a conversation or stepping out of it.
Any given controversy will have supporters and detractors. Both groups will likely have fixed ideas and be difficult to persuade or even hostile to information that contradicts their opinions.
There will also be a third group, the “movable middle.” This group, typically described as “moderate,” includes people who, whether they’re inclined to support or critique, don’t have fixed ideas, are open to persuasion, and will receive new information if it’s framed accessibly.
It’s that movable group that’s going to be most open to change, and therefore it’s the group that may be most worth engaging.
Moderation doesn’t always yield great social outcomes, but progress can’t happen without the people who resist extremes of ideology or certainty and take moderation as a core value.