Do you visit my blog for all the anime content? I admire your optimism! I’ll get back to reviews someday soon, I promise. Sadly, not today….
I am once again going to babble on about a random subject for way too long because I haven’t yet finished an anime I can review for you… Have I mentioned how attractive I find patience to be?
Although not related to anime, today I’d like to talk a bit about something that’s at least a little relevant to our blogging community in general. How to deal with differences of opinion in the blogosphere.
Alright that made it sound much more important than it is. I just want to chat a bit about the value of arguments.
But first, I’ll just explain a little something about myself that makes me view the subject perhaps somewhat differently than some. In most cultures, it’s generally considered respectful to demure to someone. You do not disagree with your elders, you do not voice conflicting opinions at least never in public. Arguing makes you difficult! This is squarely at odds with my upbringing.
I was taught to be respectful to my elders and in fact everyone. There are also degrees of polite language in both Russian, Bulgarian and French, and you have to use them in a variety of situations. But voicing your opinion was always encouraged. In fact, if a superior says something you believe to be wrong, it was considered the height of disrespect to leave them in ignorance and let them continue under false assumptions. They are likely to embarrass themselves and that will be your fault.
Not voicing a contradicting opinion (in a respectful way) when you have one, means that you either do not believe the other person is smart enough to understand or do not think they are worth the time and effort to have a discussion with. Inversely, if someone is going out of their way to show you a different point of vue, it’s a kindness. They are enriching you and you should be grateful and appreciate the gift. To dismiss someone else’s opinion as wrong without consideration marks you as an idiot incapable of holding more than one idea in your brain. To simply agree with it to avoid conflict shows that you do not consider the other person worthy of your time. I realize this particular social convention is relatively rare in most cultures, but it is deeply ingrained in me. That’s why I occasionally find it unsettling to see people abruptly shy away from debate.
But I do understand the impulse. I mean there are some very sensitive people out there and effectively arguing with someone is a skill. Some people may not feel confident in such situations.
Like any skill though, it can be developed. For instance, I love arguing with Karandi. When you look at it objectively, few of our tastes actually overlap and we often find ourselves with slightly different takes and interpretations. And that’s awesome. It’s one of the reasons I love reading her posts, because it shows me things that would not have occurred to me.
And when we collaborated on posts essentially arguing with each other, I found the experience enriching. Both of us are comfortable enough with our opinions that we invite challenge. We’re strong enough to respond to it and we think the other is smart enough to appreciate our comebacks. Even without coming to an agreement, the simple back and forth is a worthy experience onto itself, that’s made me the richer and smarter for it. I think it’s the sort of experience that could be recreated in the comment sections of our blogs, but I’m not sure how to go about it.
One thing I’ve noticed is the use of subjective language can change everything. For instance, when I say I was generally uninterested in a show and have a comment that starts with This Show Is Great Because… I take it for granted that this person isn’t interested in hearing my opposing opinion. After all, they are stating FACTS. The exact same comment worded along the lines of: I thought the show was great because… completely changes the conversation. It invites further discussion. I can ask questions, concede points. I think that person may be willing to explore elements they may not have considered before. This encourages me to explore the subject further.
Since I do want discussion, I try to word my posts and reviews as subjectively as possible. I’m interpreting art after all, there is room for different understandings. It’s not like there’s an actual right or wrong. Although I may not completely change my views just because someone made a great point, I will moderate them and appreciate the work in a different light. I love it when my readers make me smarter. Half my posts get even better in the comments section and it’s a source of joy.
For the most part, my readers are fantastic and give me great meaty comments I can chew on. Honestly, I have been lucky.
It gets much more difficult when it comes time for me to disagree with someone. I’m not the most delicate individual. I myself am quite thick skinned so I don’t always realize what could be hurtful to someone else. I try very hard to be gentle. If ever I fail, you guys should tell me, that’s how I learn.
But I have found that people can get very defensive, very quickly, when you disagree with their posts. Obviously, you’re on their bog, their home turf where all their readers can see your comment so that’s a bit unsettling. Then there’s the instinct to go, well don’t read it if you don’t like it. No one likes to be told they’re wrong after all. Except I can disagree with something and still enjoy it. In fact, I can even disagree with something without thinking it’s wrong. I’m just bringing up a different perspective. If I went to the trouble of reading your post, thinking about it, wording and posting a comment that has an alternate opinion, it’s because I think your post was really interesting and you’re probably smart. I want to see what you’ll respond. I want to talk about it. I don’t have time to just flame posts for giggles and not that many people do.
Sure, sometimes you get reactionary comments. You can tell people haven’t in fact read your posts (I get those on occasion on the episode reviews for some reason). Or you can see the person just has a chip on their shoulder about a particular subject. But most of the time, I think people really do want a conversation and are just a bit clumsy at wording their opinions. Like I said, arguing is a skill, it requires practice.
So next time you don’t have anything nice to say, figure out how to say it respectfully and comment! You never know, if you’re super lucky, you may even end up learning something.