Talking Past Each Other

I’m quite happy to engage in robust conversation with various people across various fields. I’ve done so with MGTOWs and MRAs. I’ve done so with gatekeeping Star Trek fans. I’ve done so with people of various conservative religious beliefs. Gun control, sports, science, you name it, I’ve gotten stuck in. In the course of doing so, I find myself wondering, how much of these discussions has been about genuinely understanding the opposing point of view and trying to create an understanding of my own, and how much has simply been about winning and scoring points. I don’t doubt that many of my opponents have been more interested in the former, but if I am being brutally honest with myself, I have to suggest I am guilty of that myself.

After all, who doesn’t want to be right? Who doesn’t want to win? If we feel we have facts and reason (and in some cases, common sense and decency) on our side, we’re not likely to make concessions to an opposing point of view, even when there might be elements of that view which make sense (and I am not, for the record, suggesting the angry rants from MGTOWs/elements of the religious right/fanatical gatekeepers make any sense). I have to wonder if I sometimes become so entrenched, so emotionally and psychologically invested in a certain point of view, that I can’t see past it.

Where is all this coming from? I’m not really sure. I’m not even sure I’ll change my positions on the aforementioned subjects, or even that I should (why should I consider MRAs in a different light, considering the behaviour I have frequently encountered). I guess I’m just hoping to persuade myself to be a little more open-minded, within reason, and also to reconsider how I go about discussing things with others. If the objective is all about winning, it will only encourage the other side to hunker down. Meaningful change, the stuff that convinces others to see things differently, requires a different sort of conversation.

Discussion

  • Commenter's Avatar
    violetwisp — April 10, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I feel exactly the same. And I notice many people don’t really read posts in detail or respond directly to the content of comments, it’s more about skimming and making a pre-established point. Which again I suspect I’m guilty of.

    • Commenter's Avatar
      DarthTimon — April 10, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      I could have sworn I replied to this earlier but apparently I didn’t hit reply! I think we’re all guilty of this sort of behaviour. We take comfort and security from our opinions and things we believe to be true. It’s a defence mechanism.

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