How to lose friends and alienate people

So long as you deny our humanity, so long as you malign our dignity, intelligence and wisdom, so long as you seek to shade us under a cloud of evil that we do not partake in or support, so long as you tell us that because we own guns we are terrible people, you will prove yourselves absolutely right in that we won’t come to the table to talk with you.

This. So very much, this.

Read the full article. It’s long, but well-written. (h/t Jon Thomas)

They want to have a “national conversation on guns”, but there’s no conversation. It’s just a lecture, a scolding. Who wants to listen to that? When someone dresses you down, how much do you listen to them? How much do you want to cooperate with them? If they call you names, tell you you’re evil, put words in your mouth… do you really want to listen to what they have to say? Are you going to be receptive to anything they propose? It has nothing to do with guns; that’s just a human reaction.

Here’s a PDF from Dale Carnegie.  Just about every rule gets violated in this “conversation”, and so we’re losing friends and alienating people.

To be fair, it’s not just the anti-gun folk that are like this. I see pro-gun folk that are this way as well. I cannot stand looking at my Twitter feed because I see so much  … well… asshole-ish behavior going on. Conversations in less than 140 characters is not a conversation. I see name-calling, baiting, and just general rudeness. I mean, there’s assholes in every crowd, alas they tend to be the ones creating the most jibber-jabber, thus they create the perception. This sort of behavior won’t win anyone over to our cause. There’s no attempt to educate, just more violations of Dale’s rules. Really, what Mr. Snell’s article concludes cuts both ways: that so long as pro-gun folks treat anti-gun folk in a bad way (denying humanity, maligning their dignity, intelligence and wisdom, etc.), well… they won’t come talk to us either.

We can even step back from guns. Look at abortion, LGBT equality, environment (e.g. global warming), food (GMO, etc.), race, religion (including a-religion), whatever. Ever notice how divisive things are today? How the media no longer maintains a facade of neutrality but now blatantly takes and panders to “sides”? How politicians hammer on “the other side” for being in the way of progress, instead of they themselves trying to progress? How there’s so much spitting of venom and hate? There’s so much talk of tolerance, but little is given, especially to those that don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter the topic. So long as we deny humanity, malign dignity, shade “the other side” under a cloud of evil… we’ll never come to the table and break bread together.

If united we stand and divided we fall… then it looks like we’ve fallen, and at this rate, we’re not going to get back up. Because while our humanity is crumpled on the ground crying for help, you’d rather Instagram ‘dat shit’ and walk away laughing at the ‘dumb bitch’. We need people to put their smartphones away, give our collective humanity a humble look in the eyes, and offer it a helping hand.

4 thoughts on “How to lose friends and alienate people

  1. To be fair, how much compromise are you willing to make on guns?

    Same for other topics. I’m 60 years old; I’ve had about 40 years (actually longer, but the earlier years were mostly debating with small groups) of debating/discussing/arguing various topics important to me.

    The end result is that I have become hardened to certain arguments (i.e. arguments as in the making of one’s case, not of yelling at each other). So much so that I am confident in outright dismissing the person making those arguments as . . . well, I don’t have a high opinion of them.

    And, yes, they are all on topics which can be considered “hot-button”.

    I’m in a slightly unique position; love guns, does not believe in god, believes in moderate social programs, hates handouts, don’t like abortion but in favor of women having choices – especially if sex education and contraceptives are not readily available.

    The list goes on, but basically I end up debating/arguing/discussing with nearly everyone I meet, either in person or on-line.

    What I do believe in is data and hard evidence. Most people argue out of conviction stemming from personal bias – not awful on itself, but they are not willing to look at data countering their bias.

    So now I don’t care much, nor feel any guilt, on forming an opinion based on just a few snippets of dialogue. Something which might have been excused 10-20 years ago, these days is inexcusable. Just a few clicks of a mouse will get you all the data, arguments, and counter-arguments one could want or need to form an informed opinion.

    Often the opinion is . . . there are no good answers, and when someone suggests there are, I lose all respect for them. Like, instantly.

    • There is someting to be said for opinion and emotion — because ultimately as humans, we are emotional creatures. The issue becomes when we make decisions — especially ones with long/great impact — based solely on emotion.

      For example, if you’re standing in line at the store to pay for things, there’s a rack of candy or some such at the register (those “impulse buy” items) and tho you weren’t planning on it you pick one up, likely that was based more on emotion than logic. Was it a bad thing? Well, as your dentist or doctor, I guess. 🙂 But hopefully you can see my point that it’s generally not a big impactful decision for your or anyone else’s life. If the decision to buy that candy was purely because “gee, I feel like a having a Milky Way right now, because that’d be really nice…”, emotion, is that so bad?

      Now consider marriage. Love is not enough. Love is pretty much pure emotion, and while it’s arguably important you need to have and maintain that emotion for the marriage, it is certainly not enough. There has to be some logic and fact put into making the decision to marry (or not), else you could be for a life of unhappiness.

      So it goes for laws, rules, regulations, etc.. Facts and data, much thought, less knee-jerk reaction, these are what we need in making laws. Alas, these days it’s more about “doing something” and “acting now, before it’s too late” because it’s “for the children”. So we get quite a mess.

      Regardless, I’ve found one gets further by listening. I’ve also found “preaching” here on a blog doesn’t really do a whole lot because it’s rare the person that reads material they find in opposition to their stances and beliefs. Thus I don’t have a lot of rabid-anti-gun folk that come around here. My opportunity to engage folks is on the personal level, and I’m willing to take the slow “one at a time” approach, if that’s what it takes for people to come to favor facts and data over emotion and opinion. Recently I experienced a person who, some months ago, was questioning a need for a gun, etc. and gave the typical emotional appeals as such. Then some weeks ago, this same person approached me wanting to sign up for classes. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but something did. I’m afraid if I had dismissed them earlier, they wouldn’t have come back to me later. I’m glad they came back. In fact as I write this, I just remembered another person that too had the same “anti” arguments and really strongly refused to listen to my facts and data. Then they had an experience that opened their eyes… it started out as an emotional reaction (one of extreme “holy crap! this sucks! just think what could have happened….”) and that emotion drove them to think, and think hard. And they too came around, and I was happy to introduce them to the world of gun ownership.

      People don’t want data — they want to be right. That’s a human thing. I tend to believe that since truth and fact are always there, they are undeniable, well… it’s just a matter of time before someone sees the truth; so it’s a question of WHEN will they open their eyes (and I accept some may never). If truly they don’t want to see it, I cannot force them, but I’ll be here to help them find it when they want to. It’s hard, I don’t always have the patience (and I’ve certainly cast some people out of my life because of their attitudes and stances), but for now, I’m trying. We’ll see where I am in another 20 years. 🙂

      • My first consideration is always both “why” someone might believe as they do. They may have circumstances different to my own, worldviews that may help them in their lives.

        However, the intolerance comes when they want to do things which impact other people’s lives.

        There are certainly instances where that is warranted; we can, pretty much unanimously, agree slavery is wrong, robbing people is not an honorable profession, and putting ketchup on eggs is an abomination.

        But, and in reading your opinions I think you’ll agree, curtailing other people’s quality of life because of a misguided ideology is inexcusable. Within all the usual “do no harm” limitation, I’m willing to let anyone live any way they want. And yes, there are gray areas, but to my mind not when we have knowledge that would eliminate the gray if anyone cared to listen.

        It’s interesting you mention your belief people will eventually “see” the truth . . . my belief for many, many years . . .

        You cite examples, and in that you are lucky; I can’t.

        On an intellectual level, I know I should not be dismissive, should still be respectful, should still strive to bridge the gap . . . Like I said, I’m 60. I actually don’t care any more. I know I will become “part of the problem”, but I don’t have many years left, and I don’t want to spend any of my remaining time building bridges.

        . . . but I’m glad you’re still in there..

        • I grant not everyone will see the truth. I’m sure there are truths I’m blind too as well, but I would like someone to help me see what I can’t, if in fact I’m that blind to them.

          I hear you tho, and I do think it’s a problem to curtail people like this. I mean, some would argue the same when it comes to things like gay marriage. But you know, it’s OK for you when I want it, it’s not OK for you when I don’t want it. *sigh*

          I can’t blame you for being dismissive either. You get older, you get less tolerant of bullshit. I find myself cutting some people out of my life because of their choices and behaviors. Yes, I’d love to help them, and if they need it I’m sure I’ll be there. But until then, I’ve only so much time, so much energy, and I have to spend what have left wisely.

Comments are closed.