I am tired of arguing.

I am not interested in hearing opposing points of view.

I don’t particularly care about honouring different opinions.

This, then, marks the very beginning of the “Old Fart” stage.

I’m not the sort of person, and never have been, really, whose mind will be changed based on whatever argument is brought to the table. The way I form my opinions (and, therefore, the way I change my mind about something) is by studying, by looking at it from many different angles. From reading and researching.

Sure, we can say that debate is simply the presentation of ideas of differing points of view, and that what better way is there to provide different angles than through debate?

Here’s what I don’t like about it: it seems to me that the way most people argue or debate is by putting opposing arguments/viewpoints down. By trying to undermine them. Rather than just presenting well-supported information, there is this need to ridicule the other side’s facts, logic, or presentation. And that gets us nowhere.

This is why I don’t discuss religion any more…at least not in public fora. I am disgusted when people ridicule a belief system, whether that belief system is one to which I adhere or not. It makes me angry when you can’t take a step back and see that you are using the exact same argument as the people against whom you argue, in order to try to prove them wrong. Regardless of which side you come at the topic from.

There is a difference between discussing something and debating it, and if we can’t talk about something without establishing that you are arguing X and I am arguing Y and now we have to fight about the thing until one of us relents and either calls in to question a definition of terms or semantics, or simply walks away from the discussion, I’m just not interested. There are some things about which I do not need to be ‘enlightened’. There are some things about which I do not need to be ‘educated’. Okay, actually, that’s not true. I think we all need to be educated about everything, but if I think I need a teacher, I’ll go find one. By and large, I don’t want you to lecture me. I don’t want you to point out all the myriad ways in which I am utterly, and completely, wrong.

I am wrong an awful lot. This is a fact. Sometimes, I even admit when I’m wrong. I believe it has happened at least seven times. Maybe four. Let’s agree on once or twice. The difference between the number of times I am wrong and the number of times I *admit* my errors is a vast chasm that cannot be forded by mere mathematicians. Not even mathematicians with several University degrees, a team of Sherpas, some rock-climbing gear, and a theoretical physicist.

But nobody likes it when you point out how wrong they are. Well, perhaps *some* people do. But that’s some kind of kinky fetish that probably involves spiked heels and electrical tape. Not that there’s anything *wrong* with that. I’m not judging.

But I *do* judge. We *all* judge. We are by our very nature judgemental creatures. Which is to say, we are discerning. Discriminatory. We have to be. Because at its core, all ‘discrimination’ means is ‘differentiate’. Recognising differences. In order to make a decision between two (or more) things, we must first be able to discern differences between them. We have evolved as a species because we are able to discern the differences between the tasty berries and the berries that give you the galloping trots (or worse). Because we are able to discriminate between easy, foraging prey and toothy, growly prey with pointy bits. Because we are able to suss out which crops will grow better in which areas or climates.

The root of the word “discriminate” is synonymous with “division” or “separation”, and it’s derived from a word which means, essentially, to distinguish or to perceive. “Discern” comes from the same word form.

MY POINT HERE IS THAT I DO JUDGE. WE ALL DO. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. It doesn’t always have to be hurtful. Because it is easier to destroy than to create, because it is easier to be hurtful than it is to be kind, we associate things like discrimination and judgement with bad experiences because most of the time, that has been our experience with them.

How the HELL did I get here from “I don’t want to argue anymore”?

This is why I don’t have an education degree. At the end of class, we all would have learned something, but it sure as hell wouldn’t have been on the syllabus. Probably not even in the curriculum.

*ahem*

We have opinions. Our opinions are based on the judgements we make, which are hopefully based on our life experiences and our education. Hopefully we form our opinions out of kindness and a dedication to making the world a better place, and not on derisive, hateful and hurtful misinformation. You and I may have differing opinions on many, many things. All I am saying is that I don’t want to get drawn into debate on public fora. In some cases, I don’t want to get drawn into debate at all.

So if we’re ‘discussing’ something, and I say “I have to stop talking about this now”, please understand it’s not that I don’t think you have very important and valid points to make. It’s that I have decided that once I start losing my temper because we are no longer discussing something but are instead attacking or putting down one another’s logic, reasoning, or arguments, the conversation will only end poorly. I’m not very fond of being angry, although I am *very* good at it.

And sometimes, I just don’t want to discuss specifics.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

8 Comments

  1. It is good to be able to admit to this and do the “I have to stop talking about this now” thing because, well, lots of people *enjoy* arguing – not necessarily because they are belligerent people (though that is sometimes the case) but simply because it gets the blood pumping and is good mental and emotional exercise. It is like backyard wrestling for the mind. But, of course, some people shouldn’t do backyard wrestling either, because once things start getting physical they get fighty, and they are incapable of horsing around without hurting or getting hurt.

    I do find generally the only reason *to* argue is for the enjoyment of it though. I mean, sometimes someone will present a point that cause me to change my opinion, but it doesn’t happen often because it takes an act of will for me to back down and even *consider* I might be wrong. Can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into, after all. ;) Plus, it has been shown that once someone believes something, showing them contrary evidence actually *increases* their belief instead of making them question it – humans aren’t programmed to find correct conclusions, they’re programmed to assert whatever conclusions they’ve already come to are the right ones.

    1. This is a really good point, Wade.

      Oh, um. I mean. YOU’RE WRONG, LAHODA!!!

      It’s not so much that I don’t like debate. Proper debate or discussion can be a great deal of fun. But a) I can have a tiny little attention span, and sometimes just get bored of the debate; and b) some people, I’m sorry, but some people just do it wrong. There are some folks who manage, somehow, to make you feel like a worthless bum for having the opinion or position that you take. So if I start feeling like I’m being mocked or patronised or, to be blunt, *attacked*, I’m more likely to just end the discussion.

      1. Which is probably sensible. Arguements are sometimes kinda about whose point is correct, but often they are far more about establishing social dominance. Causing someone to become so upset they do not wish to continue is a frequent tactic. Of course, discontinuing a discussion voluntarily because it is is not a worthy discussion is sometimes a very good social warfare preemptive strike and establishes dominance on its own.

        Not that I think most people actually think that way. Everyone does it, the primate social hierarchy games, they’re hardwired into our brains, but the people who spend too much time actually thinking about their social interactions through that lens worry me a bit. I consider it a bad sign for my own character that I’ve become more inclined to view things that way over time myself.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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