There was a time many years ago, where disagreement was fairly normal. People expected that throughout their day, they were going to encounter people with an opinion different to their own. When this happened, some would accept that having a different opinion was OK and there would be no further action taken, just two people perfectly happy that someone else thinks a little differently to them…but they can still be friends and get along perfectly well. Other times a conversation would ensue. A conversation that involved a trading of facts, perceived facts, even opinion. A conversation where cases were stated with reasons supporting their stand. A conversation where people would engage their intellect and actually think about what they believed to the point of being able to explain it to another. Often times the end result, was still two people that agreed to think differently and yet remain perfectly good friends. Of course there was the odd occasion when things got a little out of hand and the result would be that the simplest resolution was to walk 20 paces and draw pistols with the one left standing obviously being the one who was “right“.
But it is becoming increasingly obvious that, that time has well passed. The modern version of the above scenario is far different. These days, while being far simpler, the process always seems to be the same regardless of the topic. Basically it goes like this: “If you don’t agree with me, you’re wrong…and therefore clearly an idiot.”. Whether it’s politics or sport or the study of science and medicine or of course, the most obvious one…religion, the concept remains the same. The thinking that “I am awesome…and smart…and right” leads to the obvious conclusion that if anyone sees things differently that “you must be less intelligent than me…wrong…and obviously, not awesome“. So intelligent conversation about tough topics has been reduced to one person stating “how it is“, followed by an attack on the intelligence of anyone who does not agree with them.
This might seem OK to you at first…because after all, you are awesome…right? But this approach has it’s flaws. What if all 6+ billion of us aren’t as awesome as every single one of us clearly thinks we are? What if we are relatively uninformed about a topic and boldly “telling it how it is” to someone with an actual knowledge and understanding about the topic (followed of course by the obligatory “just sayin’” that makes it all OK). What if any, of the many people we regard as being idiots, are actually well researched, intelligent people that we would be doing well to listen to instead of accusing them of lacking any kind of grey matter simply because their study and research and keen interest in something they are passionate about has lead them to have the audacity to believe something different to us…even though we have never studied or researched or really even thought about the topic at hand before this second?
And yet we see exactly this all around us every single day. “I vote for this party”…”You must be stupid! Anyone with any brains votes for that party!”… “Really? Why?”… “Because we have brains you idiot!”. Insert whatever topic you like, the “argument” remains the same. People no longer support a stance, they just shoot down any other stance with an intelligence insult. Social media and the internet have totally empowered this too, enabling many people to “status update”, “tweet” or “blog” a thought process, only to have hundreds of retaliating insults and questions about how you could be so stupid and yet manage to have the ability to breathe…without a single real word being exchanged. There is a perception that, if we type it on someone else’s page, it’s OK. We’d never actually “say” some of these things to each other in person, but safely tucked away at home (or at work while the boss isn’t watching) behind a keyboard, we all suddenly feel like experts on everything…(well I did read something on the internet about that once!), and have no hesitation in attacking anyone’s values, beliefs, political opinions, religion, family life…anything really, by letting them know that if they think that, then they are obviously a moron.
Well, I kind of liked things the old way better. Civilised conversation allowing a presentation of supporting thought, documentation, information, facts or truth, that enabled people to engage each other with intelligence instead of simply dismissing that anyone else might actually have any. But I guess in this busy day and age when we’re all so busy (got to find time for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest…you name it…and all the other important things we dedicate ourselves to) we probably don’t have the time for intelligent conversation or processing the possibility that we, might not actually know everything. Imagine that! I wonder how many real relationships we actually have these days…or is it all just about “friends” and “followers”? Do we still go out and engage intelligently with others or just sit at home and sledge all the stupid people that don’t see things how we do.
At least the old way, we stayed real friends despite our differences.