Recently I dipped my toe in to be the lone voice of dissent in an online conversation. I did this knowing full well mine wouldn’t be a popular opinion. I was right. Even though I knew what would happen I felt it was important that another point of view be represented in what had become a very one-sided debate. So, I said what I wanted to say, others jumped in to disagree (rather strongly), I clarified a few misunderstandings and then I walked away from the conversation when it became obvious that I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
Well, sort of. I stopped commenting but I haven’t been able to resist going back to read it a few times. Apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.
Since I couldn’t get anyone there to listen to me I came here. I planned to state my case with lots of data, anecdotes and analogies. I actually do that a lot when I don’t feel heard (even though a lot of those posts are just hanging out in my drafts folder).
I was well into stating my case, complete with a few links and more than a few sarcastic remarks but then I stopped. I KNOW I’m right about this (like I said, I found lots of data to prove the point). I also know that being right won’t make a bit of difference in “winning” this argument because the people I’m debating with don’t care about facts or data. And even if they did care, what exactly would I be “winning” by convincing them?
So, now I’m no longer thinking about why they are so wrong. Now I’m wondering why I care so much.
I realize that at least part of it has to do with the absolute conviction of some of the posters- they left no room to even attempt understanding an opposing view. That kind of arrogance and condescension always gets to me- even when it comes from someone with whom I agree. But that realization still begs the question; why are arrogance and condescension such pet peeves of mine?
Annoyances are usually rooted in something deeper and I’m trying to peel back the layers to figure out why this bothers me so much. Obviously I don’t want people dismissing my ideas and I can’t stand when people don’t understand me. But it’s more than that because, like I said earlier, it bothers me even when I might agree with the person. I think it has to do with respect. I need to feel respected. It is entirely possible for someone to agree with me and still not respect me. (It is equally possible to disagree respectfully but I think that’s another blog post.) So, respect is another piece of the puzzle. But this still leads to why…
This one I’m unsure about. I could wax poetic about how important it is that we all respect each other because it will make the world a better place. I could stand on my soap box and preach that for real change to occur we must learn to respect each other. And I do believe those things. But they aren’t the reason I get knots in the pit of my stomach when I feel my ideas are being dismissed or condescended to. The feelings that this perceived disrespect illicit are too strong, too overwhelming, too personal to simply be about my worldview. They must, at some deep level, be about me.
I have some trite, arm-chair psychologist ideas about why these particular things bother me so much but I believe a deeper understanding than that is necessary to actually overcome these feelings. No one likes to feel disrespected or condescended to but for me it is extremely triggering and feels beyond the normal scope of anxiety that most people experience with these issues. I am not simply annoyed when I feel my opinions are being disregarded- I am enraged. I get actual, physical tunnel vision, my stomach twists into knots. I am agitated and furious, not because someone doesn’t agree with me but because someone might be JUDGING me.
And there it is, another layer. Beneath condescension and arrogance are disrespect. Beneath disrespect is judgement.
But I still find myself asking why. Why is feeling judged such a hot button issue for me? I don’t know yet. I’m getting closer though and I’ll keep peeling back the layers, slowly but surely, until I figure it out.