And you should tell me why I’m wrong.

There is nothing more satisfying than to hear the words “I was wrong” after a long verbal sparring match against someone with whom you viscerally disagree. The value of these words comes almost entirely from their rarity.  How often do you really win an argument? Maybe you’re just terrible at getting your points across, not forceful enough, don’t have strong opinions, whatever you may think it is. Regardless of your reasoning, I am willing to say with full confidence that you’re going about it wrong.

Let’s say you and your friends all have the exact same favorite ice cream flavor, and although you talk about dessert together, it’s always the same group of people. You should know that this is an excellent setup for an echo-chamber — a group of people in real life or online who repeat the same ideas over and over to reinforce those beliefs. Think about it for a minute and you’ll probably find that you’ve been unknowingly incorporated into one at some time or another. The worst part is that it feels really good to know that you’re right and to have everyone reaffirming you. Better yet to get absolutely pissed at people who like chocolate ice cream, together.  Thinking like this is especially dangerous because it never forces you to examine exactly why vanilla ice cream is clearly better from different perspectives.   

So what’s the solution — go out and find people who disagree with you and start fighting? Well, sort of.  

Shouting and spitting will just put you back a few steps.  Feeling the need to win an argument with a definitive change of opinion pushes us to the extremes.  Listening to someone work themselves into an absolute rage will only make both parties think “Yeah, this is why they’re wrong.  I can’t believe they would be so stupid. We are so right.” But we must not lose sight of our reason for seeking out other people in the first place: We want to be attacked in new and interesting ways.

Remain calm, remember the chocolate-lover you despise so much has their own story and roots behind their thought process.  Being uncomfortable or offended, although not the goal, may be part of the journey to better understanding the world around you.  Ask “why?” to an unending degree, absorb the information they tell you in response. Learn to appreciate your friends who lie the opposite of the political spectrum, stop and talk to the pro-choice protestors, show up to an Antifa meeting, try chocolate ice cream.

Even if you really don’t want to.


Tagged: argument

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