Understanding

I try not to read or get into debates on hefty issues (abortion, global warming, politics, euthanasia, religion, etc.) online. The majority of the time, the people arguing know very little about what they’re talking about and they don’t know how to debate in a mature, intelligent way. They throw around insults, use terrible language, cite unreliable sources, and generally prove that they’re not a good champion for their cause – whatever that cause might be.

I think that, no matter what your stance is on a particular issue, that you should try to understand the other side, even if you don’t agree with it and can’t possibly fathom how people can believe it. At least make an attempt to see where the other person might be coming from – and don’t resort to stereotypes. “Oh, you’re a Democrat, so you must be a pot-smoking hippie.” “You’re a Republican, so you must be a religious bigot.” People have many different reasons for believing what they believe, and stereotypes are never correct 100 percent of the time.

A lot of the time, people don’t seem to understand that very, very few of these Internet debates are going to get the other person to miraculously change their mind and “convert” to the other side. From what I’ve seen, Internet debates end up getting everyone on both sides angry. What’s the point of arguing if you’re not going to get the other person to understand and you’re only going to get frustrated? To me, it’s just a waste of energy and time.

About a month ago, I made the “mistake” of posting my opinion of a political book on one of my own blogs (not this one). Almost immediately, someone from the opposing side of the issue began to attack me and question my views. It seemed like all they wanted to do was argue and pick a fight, so I stayed out of it. I never asked to argue. I never wanted a debate on the subject. I was simply stating my opinion about a book I had enjoyed. If someone else’s opinion is going to irritate you that much, stop reading. Don’t attack the other person simply because their views on one subject might differ from yours.

What saddened me about that situation was that when I visited that other person’s blog, it seemed that they had a lot in common with me – we both liked writing and reading, and we had similar backgrounds. Had the circumstances been different, we probably would have been friends.

That’s why I don’t like to post about hefty issues. I don’t like starting arguments that will more than likely lead nowhere. Respect that the other person’s opinion differs from yours for whatever reason, and simply agree to disagree. If you claim to have an open mind on a variety of subjects, then read about both sides of the issue. Seek to understand first, then to be understood. Shouldn’t that be common sense?

14 thoughts on “Understanding

  1. Definitely. Sometimes people knock on my front door and start ranting on about the proof of the existence of God. I just listen to them and then when they’ve eventually finished, I tell them I’m a Christian (which I am). They then say sorry and go to the next house. But I guess I wasn’t annoyed of the fact that they were bugging me, but of the fact that if I wasn’t Christian then they weren’t respecting my views at all.
    A lovely post.

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    1. Jehovah Witnesses come to my house about once every few months or so. I listen also, and then tell them I’m Catholic, but they still keep coming to my house. I just don’t like how some people are rude to them and slam the door in their face. There’s no reason to be disrespectful, even if you aren’t interested in what they have to say.

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  2. First: it’s sad that the other person just wanted to argue.

    Second: you have more than one blog, and you’re posting here five days a week, AND working on multiple novels? Wowzers.

    Third: I never commented on your post about the Catholic something-or-other changing (see how informed I am/how much I pay attention), but I meant to comment that I thought it was well done, in good taste, and I learned something from it. While I wouldn’t always want to read posts that dip into politics and/or religion and/or social issues, it can be refreshing.

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  3. There are a lot of people who look for a fight, and they like the internet because there’s less chance of getting punched in the nose. 🙂

    Some have sincere beliefs and like to get a rise out of people who think differently. Some will take whatever position they think will cause the most furor (trolls).

    It’s not always that way, though, and in those situations — when people are reasonable — you can learn a lot (I wrote a story about that, in fact). But, like you, I start by being cautious, because the general tendency seems to be for things to go badly.

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  4. On the topic of rational discussions vs. picking fights, you might be interested in this post on Stephen Watkins’ blog, where he talks about how some of the most visible proponents of self-publishing make their points with some very provocative (and, to many people, offensive) analogies.
    http://bit.ly/ryiu4T

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  5. I agree with many of the comments made to this post…some people in this world love to argue so much that they don’t even care what the argument is about. I’m so glad that you are able to see past it!

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