Tell Me I’m Wrong

My most recent FB post received much love from friends

My most recent FB post received much love from friends

I have a secret to tell you.  Okay.  You probably didn’t know this, and I feel really uncomfortable saying it, and please don’t judge me, but… 

I’m not always right.

 …wait, you did realize that?  Because I’m only 20?  And I come from a very specific background?  And haven’t experienced much in the world?  Well dang, I just assumed everyone thought I was right and agreed with me.

But actually, guys, I know you disagree with some of the things I say.  I purposefully take strong stances in these blogs and try to argue out my opinions logically in the hopes that someone will disagree.  I mean, I also hope that I deconstruct the way you view certain topics, and perhaps see the world from my perspective for a bit, but just as I hope you are listening to my opinion, I desperately want to hear yours.  I feel the internet sometimes tends to stifle discourse rather than encourage it, so with this blog, I’m hoping to transform at least Geekitout (the whole of the internet seems a bit daunting) into a place where you can tell me I’m wrong, and hopefully open up a dialogue with it.  And since I am Mr. List-Maker, here are a few key things that I believe will make this a better space for discussion.

Just because we disagree doesn’t mean I think you hate me.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  I have opinions.  You have opinions.  I share my opinions with the web, and perhaps you don’t agree with one of them.  Know what you should do?  TELL ME. Leave me a comment with your side of the story logically stated.  I don’t think you’re calling me an idiot, I don’t think you think I’m a terrible person for seeing the world differently, I think you are simply trying to bring new evidence to light that may affect my own views.  And you want to know a secret…?

We don’t have to agree. I see comments on my blog as a discussion, not a war.  Sometimes I change my mind when you tell me things.  Sometimes I only change part of my mind.  Sometimes I have a counterargument to whatever you have to say that might change your mind and make my own statement stronger.  And sometimes, we may just agree to disagree.  Unless you actually tell me what you have to say, no growth can happen on either end.

Don’t let the trolls destroy discourse.  The internet has already decided to shame discussion.  When I brought up the fact that I wanted people to disagree on my blog, one of my friends instantly shouted IMMA WIN THE INTERNET FIGHT.  Surprisingly enough, this whole idea of ‘internet fighting’ is actually a meme already.  For some reason, discussion on the internet has become an all or nothing event, a ‘you will agree with me, or you’re a complete idiot’.  I find this amusing because in my opinion, virtual discussion can actually be one of the most efficient ways of sharing opinions and knowledge.  You have all your statements and your partner’s statements recorded so that you can both search them and quote them, you can instantly link to most things you refer to/your partner can google it, and there is very little intonation conveyed across text.  In fact, the number one thing I like about the internet is the fact that you can remove yourself from the discussion at any time.  Like seriously, someone being a troll?  Click that beautiful x in the corner, you have no obligation to continue to engage them.

Now, all of my previous statements are coming from an emotionless argument style, one I tend to favor but isn’t necessarily everyone’ s preference.  I prefer my discussions to be emotionless and logical.  I think emotion leads to strong rhetoric for convincing others,  but not necessarily strong arguments.  This is not to say that experience and emotion can’t be used as evidence in a discussion, and can’t be used to fuel the passion behind a discussion, but rather that once you entwine yourself and take attacks against your statements as an attack against your person, suddenly you are defensive rather than receptive.  You suddenly feel the need to prove why you are right, rather than stating the facts and allowing the other person to decide if you are right, as well as failing to listen to the other person’s statements.  If you are arguing a point, I believe that you believe in it, and shouting at me or crying will not convince me that you are any more serious (although I understand that sometimes those are accidental and uncontrollable reactions).

Most Importantly: You don’t have to defend yourself to me if you don’t want to.  So please, tell me I’m wrong.  Tell me I’m right.  Tell me I’m a little wrong, but only because of thus and such.  Change my mind, it’s probably one of my favorite experiences.  Feel free to state your opinion and leave, and ignore me if I try to engage.  I really want to hear what you have to say, I’d love to discuss if you’re interested, but if nothing else leave a comment and run.  The best part is on the other side, I’m free to disengage if I’m exhausted as well.  But if I never get to hear your opinion, I’ll never have new perspectives.  Unfortunately I cannot experience/read/learn everything at once, so I rely on other people to share.  Please don’t leave me here musing aloud when I’m obviously completely missing a side to the argument.  I need you to help me, and I’m not too proud to beg.

Finally, thank you for all the support! This entry isn’t meant to shaft all those who write loving notes to me, who support my writing, who agree with me.  You guys are what keep me going, that makes me feel like my opinion actually matters and is being heard.  I love you, and I love when you tell me that you like my writing (who wouldn’t?).  This is instead asking for more (when am I not in these blogs).  I want both the support and the dissent, because that’s what changes me as a person, and forces me to question life rather than simply exist in it.

Internet cookies to the first person to ironically comment with disagreement on this blog post

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About Alicen Lewis

Find me on BaiRabbit.wordpress.com! Archived Blog: Previously a summer intern for the startup incubator Idealab, during the school year I am also on the board of the Scripps College Professionals Network, Team Leader and Head Web Designer for Scripps College IT for Faculty, and President of Scripps Women in Technology. My previous experience includes working Digital New Media with Geek & Sundry, a Los Angeles Commercial YouTube company.

Posted on March 25, 2013, in Growing Up, Opinion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. But you’re wrong! Intelligent discourse is a terrible thing and it could be incredibly harmful to you and your readers if anyone dared to contradict anything you said, and it’s much safer for everyone to just unquestioningly accept all the opinions of a 20-year-old blogger. That’s how we learn, right? I would never even consider disagreeing with you.

    (But seriously, I don’t remember disagreeing with anything I’ve seen on your blog before, but I’ll keep this in mind as I read future posts and be sure to comment if I do find anything.)

  2. Maybe it’s ironic that even through the anonymity of a computer screen we take online arguments very personally. I myself have had to step back and take a breather before replying. Why was my first reaction anger about a personal attack, especially when they have no idea who I am? It’s an interesting thought, and one I certainly try to stay aware of. Also, the idea of mob mentality is a topic to be broached.

    • The current environment of the internet seems to be one where it’s particularly easy to get heated or irate, especially at personal attacks. I think it’s a reasonable response even if you can’t see the other person, which is why I personally advocate a more logical way of discussion. It’s not unreasonable to get emotional online, the internet has been proven to be just as emotionally taxing as real life, but I wish there was more of a call for civility and discussion.

      Unfortunately civility is not even always present in the physical world, which is why I’m being an idealist and trying to create a space in my blog where discussion can happen logically and politely since it doesn’t always happen everywhere else. I agree that mob mentality is an important factor, and one I’d have to address if I ever actually had enough readers/commenters that they start becoming more aggressive, but currently my blog is a little bubble of thoughts, so as long as that is true I’m going to ask for my readers honest opinions.

      I think the model of asking for honesty and complete opinions isn’t necessarily something that could be applied to the internet at large, unless some major culture shifts occurred.

  3. I’m usually pretty hesitant to post my opinions online. The vitriol of a lot of online discussion doesn’t exactly encourage rational debate, regardless of the lack of emotion in typed text. That said, this isn’t youtube – I think I’ll try and say something when I have something to say, from now on.
    I know it’s kind of obvious, but most people are here and reading this blog because they agree with at least some of what you say, Alicen – which might make it harder to find people to disagree with than otherwise…

  4. I recognize that my bubble is this little haven of, well, not quite anonymity, but rather a place that has such a miniscule audience that I can ask for dissent without receiving the hatred usually spewed on the internet. I’m hoping to take advantage of such a safe space by asking my audience to be honest and frank with me. As I told Springles, I don’t necessarily think this type of thing would work on the internet at large, because it seems that as the community gets larger accountability sometimes seems to diminish, but as long as people stay civil in my blog, I’m willing to listen to any opinion.

    I also agree with the fact that I mostly receive views from people who somewhat agree with me, but I know for a fact that I’ve had a few friends mention other opinions, but they always bring it up in person rather than online. I think this is reasonable, but my only regret is that fact that it means I can’t document the conversation so that others can perhaps learn from it as well. Maybe I’ll see if I can get my ideas out into different communities so I don’t just receive input from people whose views tend to line up with my own.

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