formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Invitation Declined (But thanks for asking!)

I come from argumentative people. Confrontational people. Always-have-to-be-right people.

And I can be -- and have often been -- an argumentative, confrontational, always-have-to-be-right person.

The apple never falls too far from the tree, does it?

The thing is? I pretty much never like how being argumentative, confrontational, and always-have-to-be-right makes me feel.

Over the years, I've gotten into some face-to-face doozies, mostly with my mother and brother, whose ideological views are often diametrically opposed to mine. Our "debates" have degraded to ugly screaming matches, where no one is even listening. In fact, I think it would be a safe bet to say that, in these situations, no one was listening from the start. We held our opinions and simply felt the need to spout them, knowing we'd never change the other person's mind.

And we never did.

When I joined Facebook, I found another argumentative, confrontational, always-have-to-be-right environment. And I joined right in. It was so easy. There is so much information (and misinformation) spread around the Internet, especially with regard to politics, and everyone has an opinion. When I would see an opinion different from mine, especially if I felt it was based on misinformation, I would join the fight -- the valiant fight -- to bring the misinformed (idiot) 'round to the truth. And like many people who enter into those sorts of "debates," I would often be condescending and snarky, doing my best to make the person who disagreed with me feel like the idiot I believed he/she was. And the same was done to me.

And I never changed anyone's mind.

And no one ever changed mine.

And I usually came away feeling unsettled and low, ashamed of my behavior, and disliking humans in general.

After a while, I tried a new tactic. I tried to "debate" in a respectful way. I tried never to get personal or sound condescending. I tried not to make sweeping generalizations or speak from opinion only.

But it didn't work. People in that argumentative, confrontational, always-have-to-be-right mode can see respect as weakness, and I often felt attacked instead of respected-in-return. And people can be so damned ugly when they're in that argumentative, confrontational, always-have-to-be-right mode.

And I never changed anyone's mind.

And no one ever changed mine.

And I came away feeling unsettled and low, ashamed that I'd allowed myself to get sucked in, and disliking humans in general. Again.

Then, I saw this:

"You don't have to attend every argument you're invited to."

What?! Really?! I don't?! Are you sure?!

Turns out? It's true!

Who'd a thunk it?!

So I started to put it into practice -- this not attending every argument to which I've received an invitation (express or implied... or simply grabbed by me, whether it was intended or not).

I just stopped taking the bait. In person, I started simply walking away or I just stopped talking. Online, I started hiding posts (or people), or just skipping right past them. I stopped posting controversial ideas which I knew would do nothing but incite arguments.

And it felt good. Mostly. Sometimes I had to bite my tongue. Even now, months after enacting this new 'no arguing' policy, I'll get ready to comment or enter into a "debate"... sometimes I even type out or prepare what I want to say, and I'll stop. I ask myself these questions:

What is your point here?
What do you think you're really going to accomplish?
Do you really want to deal with the backlash your comment is sure to generate?
If you enter into this, how will you feel about yourself when it's all over?

When I answer those questions honestly, I find that very, very rarely is the comment worth it. So I don't make it. And on the few occasions lately where I have, it almost never ends well, reinforcing my idea that it's better to just walk away.

Now, this doesn't mean that I don't believe true debate and the exchange of ideas is healthy and necessary. It certainly can be healthy and it absolutely is necessary, if we are to reach common ground and make progress about real issues. And I'm not saying that I'll never present an idea that's not popular because I don't want to generate real debate.

I'm saying that in the personal (i.e. familial) and online (i.e. Facebook) forums in which I've participated, I have not found it to be so.

I have finally found peace in knowing my own mind... in realizing that what I believe is right for me... in recognizing that I no longer feel the need to try to bring others around to my way of thinking, or to even spout my views (most of the time)... and in understanding that it is never my place to judge, or condescend toward, or attempt to belittle anyone to make a point.

And Life is so much more peaceful.

And I like peaceful.


Candace Eidson said...

You may have not "won" an argument, but you have surely planted seeds of persuasion that may eventually allow a person's mind to bloom after exposure to other people's opinions.

I know that you have successfully planted a few seeds in my mind. They still need a little more maturing!

I will say that when I know someone who leans to the far right or left, I have simply changed their Facebook friendship type to acquaintance so that their bating posts don't show up on my feed!

Fred Bowman said...


James Heiney said...

I read an article once that said that although the internet was originally touted as a place to broaden everyone's horizons, it's actually become a place where people seek out those with the same views and end up reinforcing their own. From what I've seen, it's more than true. (Except for me.)

injaynesworld said...

I took this same approach with my family a couple years ago. Turns out they agreed with the approach, too, and we can not get together, enjoy each other and realize it's not that important to be "right." Though I still can't resist tossing out some bombs on FB, you are absolutely right. No one ever changes unless they want to. A great post, Diane.

dianne said...

I have a very peaceful personality, I am not confrontational or argumentative but I do speak up for myself in a non-combative way otherwise people will try to walk all over you.
I guess it is good to have a rant every now and then, it depends if anything constructive is gained from the argument and peoples feelings aren't hurt too much.
xoxoxo ♡

J Cosmo Newbery said...

A good lesson.