There are a lot of us nowadays who have a lot of opinions on a lot of things. And many of us like to share our opinions (ahem). This blog post is another example of an opinion, and one that might sound quite judgmental. So be it – it is as much a judgment and reminder for me as for anyone else.
Opinion sharing – and taking it a step further
Sharing your opinion is one thing. However, many people take it a step further – getting so worked up by so many issues that they spend a lot of their time getting worked up, and arguing, and point-scoring, and, in some cases, being offensive and demeaning to others in the process.
I see it at work, I see it online, I see it on the faces of frustrated drivers in traffic (I might have even experienced it at times myself). I saw it at home this evening between my kids, arguing with each other – and I realised, so many adults are acting like kids. Why?
Yes, there are huge issues and injustices in the world that are important, and worth standing up for. And there are policies, or actions, which impact on us or our loved ones, and we need to stand up for what is right.
But we don’t need to buy into everything. Some things are really pretty trivial.
Trivial issues we don’t need to get involved in
Everyone has to make up their own mind on the matters they will take a stand on. However, in my opinion, I think the examples in this post from Her View from Home, fall into trivial issues – and in fact, by buying into them, they have turned them into issues that become fights. Nothing seems to be spared: ‘our society seems to think everything should be a fight‘. And they can’t subsequently be papered over by half hearted justifications or use of terms such as ‘sorry/not sorry’ (one I’ve not heard often, fortunately – but there are other variations of this) – the damage is already done.
And The Thud’s observations about the uproar last week about the indignity of an advertising company showing a woman running and pushing a stroller (note − she was clearly identified as a model, with a two year old (not a new born), in an ad. Three reasons why she is not intended to be the role model for every woman everywhere). Why, as a result, would people waste their time getting worked up and feel ‘insulted, offended and affronted‘?
Why do we waste our time getting worked up?
Why is this? Is it:
- Because we think we are the experts – do we forget there could be another perspective?
- Because we see our needs / opinions as more important or valid than anyone else’s?
- Because we are pulling ourselves in too many directions, and don’t have the emotional or mental space to see things in context (we react without thinking?)
- Because, sometimes, it helps us feel a bit better – a bit more educated, for instance? Do we run the risk of trying to bring ourselves up by pulling other people down?
Pretty sad, don’t you think, to be absorbed in getting worked up over trivial matters, or treating life as a series of insults and fights to make your way through?
Imagine how much fun, productive and connected life would be if more of our focus was on doing right, rather than being right?
I loved the thoughts from Annette of I Give You The Verbs today, who asks whether we need develop some etiquette for online conversations (and I think this extends to normal life too) around seemingly simple points like:
- How to use your words and not get in a virtual punch-up.
- How to ask a question in a conversation without it being interpreted as defensive.
- How to count to three before becoming defensive and typing something you’ll regret.
- Use Your Words! (a refresher course for grown ups).
Have a read of her post, and the comments – there are some good ideas there!
As a starting point, I suggest we start with the premise that I for one so often forget:
YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE THE LAST WORD!
So what if someone still has the wrong idea (in your opinion)?
If you’ve tried and they haven’t listened, would further arguments make any difference? And who is to say you are right, anyway? By listening more, and saying less, sometimes it is possible, sometimes, that you might learn something, and find out that there is more to the picture.
Greater understanding. Greater connection, rather than more conflict. Wouldn’t that be better?