Sunday, October 22, 2017

Playing Chess With A Pigeon

Most of us have had the experience of arguing with someone who thinks it's his or her job to 'fix' everyone. That's the person who seems to believe that it's their responsibility to tell everyone else what's wrong with them, their way of thinking, and their opinions. Talking to people like that is like playing chess with a pigeon: no matter what you say, the pigeon will just shit on the board and strut around like he won anyway.

It's amusing how some people who love to claim what they believe is the moral high ground, are happy to tell you how wrong you are if your opinion differs from theirs. And how if you continue to hold that opinion, and not agree that they are right and you are wrong, that you are inflexible, arrogant, and have pre-determined opinions. People like that can't stand it if you continue to hold your position and don't cave to their beliefs.

Those people appear to assume that since your opinion is opposite or different from theirs, that yours must be based on ignorance, stupidity, or nothing at all. They seem to assume that you simply pulled it out of the air without any intelligent thought process. Apparently, it does not occur to them that it is possible that the evidence that led you to your opinion may actually be more sound and reasonable than whatever led them to theirs. Often, it appears that those people have not considered that they might be wrong, and you might be right.

This happens often on social media. For example, in a recent online interaction, such a person latched onto one of my opinion posts and decided to tell me how wrong I am. When he discovered I would not admit that he was right, he told me I was arrogant, inflexible, and divisive. He said he would be happy to debate me only if I would stop "fighting" him. 

I have to shake my head at the sheer stupidity of the statement. He didn't want a debate; he wanted me to concede. He just wanted to shit on my board and strut around claiming victory.

One guy actually told me that my opinions weren't really opinions. He said:

"Your opinions aren't opinions. They're what you believe to be true."

Uh... what? 

"They're not opinions," he said, as though saying it twice makes it more valid. "They're what you believe."

I don't know where these people come from, but that's the dumbest damn thing I've ever heard. This person was more than happy to give me his "opinion," but he just couldn't stand that my "opinion" differed from his. Clearly, he doesn't even know the definition of the word "opinion." I told him to get a dictionary, but he would only hurt himself with it. 

The best advice is, don't bother arguing with people like that, because no matter what you do or say, they already know they are right and you are wrong. Regardless of what you say, they will insist that you are inflexible and incapable of reasonable discussion. What they mean by that, of course, is that you won't give in and accept defeat.

If you don't like someone's opinion, that's fine. I don't care if someone doesn't like mine, and most people probably don't either. You're entitled to your opinion, and I'm entitled to mine. If you proceed to tell someone how arrogant, inflexible, and stupid they are for holding a personal opinion and not agreeing with you, then you have given up any claim to the moral high ground. 

No one is required to debate with you if they don't want to, and they're not obligated to defend their position. If you think you have the right to demand a debate or an explanation, and if you refuse to allow others to hold an opinion that you don't like, then you are flat out wrong, and you've lowered yourself to the pigeon's level.

It is as simple as that: don't play chess with pigeons. The result is highly predictable, messy, unpleasant, and serves no purpose.

Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'Twisted Logic: 50 Edgy Flash Fiction Stories', 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'. His books are available in paperback and e-book.

He also writes about sports for Season Tickets, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

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