Friday, October 2, 2015

Agreeing to disagree...

Ever get into arguments with people who have a polar opposite viewpoint?  I do.  I have friends from all kinds of places.  I have friends who are very right wing conservative types and I have friends who are very liberal.  My views tend to be pretty moderate, though I'm sure my friends on either end of the spectrum would disagree.  There was a time when a lot of people thought I was conservative just because I support a strong military.  On the other hand, I have some military friends who would swear I am a bleeding heart liberal.

The truth is, I'm neither liberal nor conservative.  I have some liberal views and I have some conservative views.  I am also opinionated and enjoy communicating, so I sometimes share things with my opinions.  And a lot of times on Facebook, I end up in debates with people.  Sometimes debating is fun and constructive and sometimes it's really like beating your head against a brick wall because there are people who enjoy arguing and refuse to let things go.

In the past year or so, I have been trying harder not to get into long winded debates.  I don't want to waste an entire weekend arguing with someone online when I could be doing something more fun or constructive.  I have had to learn to use the phrase "agree to disagree".  Sometimes, if I get really annoyed with someone who won't let go, I'll say "we've beaten this dead horse long enough."

The funny thing is, before the Internet and Facebook, I don't recall getting into a lot of debates with people.  If I did, they were usually curtailed quickly because life would intervene.  I'd have to go somewhere or they'd have some other issue to attend to.  We wouldn't have these long ass arguments, go away to sleep or eat, and then get back to it.  I do remember having long arguments with my dad, usually while he was nursing a vodka tonic.  He would become less and less coherent and more insistent on his viewpoint.  But then the night would force us to part ways and go to bed.  The next morning, he usually didn't remember the argument or would at least act like he'd forgotten it.

I try to respect other viewpoints, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with someone.  I try to be empathetic as much as possible.  Sometimes, it's not possible.  And when I am having a disagreement with someone, if they condescend to me or try to tell me I am "confused" or "don't know what I'm talking about", that's pretty much the quickest way to get me to stop listening.  I think being very overbearing in an argument and not conceding to the other person's viewpoint at all is a great way to fuck up communications.  After all, no one wants to be talked to as if they are a moron.

Ahh, but sometimes it is hard to stop the debate.  It takes restraint and the willingness to let the other person have the last word.  I suppose another option is to simply stop responding.  I hoped to find a clip from Revenge of the Nerds where the nerds are playing tug of war with the frat guys.  The frat guys are all set to pull, but the nerds let go of the rope, causing their opponents to land on their asses. It makes good sense, really.  In a tug of war, verbal or physical, you have to know when you can't win and simply let go of the rope.  Often, that makes the other person fall on their ass.

Anyway, I did that this morning.  I got into a debate with someone yesterday.  It was getting nowhere and her responses became longer and longer and weren't changing my mind.  My responses were getting shorter and shorter and weren't changing her mind.  In fact, they were causing her to explain and rationalize more, and I found myself not even reading what she'd spent a long time writing.  It was a waste of her time and mine.  So I let go of the rope and said, "I'm agreeing to disagree."

Have a good Friday, everyone!

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