Lately this little blog has really started gaining momentum – the further it reaches, the more people are expressing their opinions on my opinions – getting involved with debates and really awesome, thought-provoking discussions.
And that’s an amazing thing.
But what strikes me as odd is how people who disagree with things that I post fall into two camps:
Camp one is full of aggressive, angry people who can’t cope with the idea that someone might think differently to them. They get angry and defensive the moment they see a thought that isn’t theirs. Their feelings are usually expressed in expletives. Their comments are never published.
Camp two is full of people who have something to say but are really, really sorry about it. No sooner have they pressed publish than I receive an apologetic email or tweet, usually along the lines of “I hope I haven’t offended you…” Sometimes they’ll let me know they wanted to comment but that they didn’t agree with me.
Smile – debate is a good thing
So, folks, why is it that we’ve lost the ability to constructively disagree? Both camps have somewhat extreme reactions to a debate about some abstract concept but they have one thing in comment: they both think that to disagree is an inherently bad thing. The only difference between them, really, is entitlement. The angry comments come from people who think that they’re right and everyone else is wrong – the apologetic comments are usually the other way around.
Look, there are some things I won’t tolerate on my little corner of the Internet. I won’t put up with discrimination of any kind – take any racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic (or any other kind of phobic – unless it’s something like spiders or water, that’s fine) thoughts somewhere else. I won’t put up with sweary, rude comments because they’re just unpleasant and add nothing to the conversation at hand.
BUT if I write a post about something and you disagree, you can say so! I won’t hate you, I won’t blacklist you, I may vehemently disagree back, but at the end of it I’ll still like you. I’ll still promote your stuff if it’s fab, I’ll still welcome you back with open arms, because I didn’t write the post so that everyone would pat me on the head and tell me how clever I am.
I wrote the post so that people can really discuss and get to grips with the issue involved, so that people frame things in a way that nobody else had thought of before. Every time someone disagrees with me, it makes me think – and a lot of the time I learn something new from it. Maybe I don’t change my perspective the whole time but your thoughts challenge me – and give me a more rounded perspective.
In short, if I only wanted to know people who agreed with everything I said, I’d pretty much only be friends with myself.
So this is an invitation to disagree with things that I say and think of it as spirited and interesting debate, not a nerve-wracking experience. I’d love for more people to get involved, comment and share your thoughts because they’re just as valid as everyone else’s! Don’t be shy! Let’s agree to disagree.