Sometimes it’s all but impossible not to argue back. I can’t help it. Any bugbear combined with a mid-paragraph, offhand ‘well, of course…’ comment arouses some guttural instinctive reaction, and I feel it is my duty as part of the universe to take that argument down. I’ve met people who seem able to do this to me with everything they say; the most trivial matters suddenly seem like the most important issue ever in my head. Maybe it’s when it’s couched in cynicism – I should really start paying attention.
If I don’t react I know I’ll spend the rest of the day quietly fuming, but sometimes it’s not a good idea. It’s family, or close friends, or somebody who wasn’t speaking with the intention of arguing, and any reaction would make things awkward. Sometimes you have to let it go, and I’m not very good at that. Part of me says I’m 23, dammit, I can worry about being responsible when I’m older and have other people who rely on me. But it’s probably wise to pick my battles.
There are some topics that are red flags when combined with a certain kind of attitude, and in the last year it’s been:
- Sexism / anti-gay sentiment (probably race too, but I rarely encounter that personally).
- Morality comes only from religion.
- Faith is a virtue.
- ‘You have to keep an open mind’.
- All politicians are useless and corrupt.
- Atheism is a faith position.
I don’t know why these irritate more than other issues, but I hate them. I tend to have an additional reaction to the sexism one in that I lose all interest in the person who says it. It’s not deliberate, it just happens; it’s like my brain says ‘well, there’s clearly no point wasting time and energy on somebody who thinks that‘ and once the initial flurry of comebacks fades I just don’t care about that person any more. Which I feel a little guilty about, but I can live with. The other issues aren’t the same, probably because it’s possible to have an interesting discussion with normally quite interesting people. But sexism and homophobia? I’m happy to fight them at the time, but it never ends well and I don’t need to know people like that.
I’m quite proud of myself today. Can’t go into the details for obvious reasons, but I’ve managed to resist the temptation. So I thought I’d be annoying and blog about it in the hope it’ll be cathartic 🙂 I think everybody should be made to transcribe everything they say onto blogs with open comments. I’ll implement that policy when I’m Emperor.