Why I Don't Argue
I don't argue online. I haven't done so for many years. This includes "discussions" and posting in forums. There are multiple reasons why. I also rarely, if ever, do it in person or with coworkers. To the extent that I do not care if you read or agree with this post. I post for myself, and maybe for the future if someone chooses to read it. I see it as Lao Tzu getting mad right before he disappeared forever, but being asked to write down his wisdom. But in this case no one has asked. Yes, I know no one has asked. You don't need to tell me.
It Drains Energy
I have a very limited amount of energy to expend every day. It has gotten lower and lower over the years. Trying to "convince" someone of my side, or at least that they're wrong, drains me to zero. Maybe that's the introvert talking. I've also gotten very self-centered over the years, for various reasons. But being an adult in the 21st century means that you are 100% responsible for yourself at all times. No one will help you. No one cares about you. When you have a bad day, well. Suck it up buttercup. No one is coming. Even if they say they are. This is true for friends, family, coworkers and people or services you hire alike. I have lost count of the number of times people have failed me. Maybe I'm just better than everyone.
Accepting Your Own Talents and Limitations Is Not Failure
As a kid, saying "I am smarter than most people" would have been heresy. I would have felt like I would instantly be transported to Hell. Like the Devil would appear in front of me and banish me to torture for eternity. As an adult, it's just true. Accepting this fact about myself has led me to a much better place. Refusing to be "arrogant" to look good in the eyes of others held me back my entire life.
When I thought I was the same as everyone, I would repeat certain statements to myself like a ritualistic chant. "Everyone is smart in different ways." "I need to be more patient." "They might be good at things you're bad at." I've learned this is nonsense. I am much smarter than most people, and much faster at processing new info. That doesn't mean I'm better than them; it means I'm more naturally gifted. Allowing myself to accept this has led to truly accepting that other people are not failing - they are just slower. And I'm naturally able to accept "they are slower" more than "they are failing".
However, this concept "sounds bad". The tallest nail gets hammered. So it's not something you can explain to people. But it's essential to knowing thyself, which is essential to being happy without the desire to correct everyone. Unless you are Christian or some other nonsense religion, in which case I can't help you. You have to give that up before you can understand this article.
I Am Not Good At Persuasion
I'm bad at arguing because I'm bad at persuading people to my point of view. That's generally because I just naturally "know" what is right, and I come to the conclusion much faster than those around me. I'm bad at going "backwards" to find where people are stuck and bring them up to speed. It's like they have a road map with a bunch of curves, but mine is just a straight line. I have no way to find what curve they're on and drag them onto the "right" path to get where I am. This loops back to lack of energy. It is much harder to drag someone who just "doesn't get it" (is stuck at the first curve in the road) than it is to find someone who just got stuck on the last one.
For example, I've lost count at the number of times I'm walking through someone how to change a setting or run a command and I have to repeat the same thing 2 or 3 times. "Click ____ on the left." "The left." "The column on the left. ____. Click that." Infuriating. And understandable if you have anxiety about being watched. I have that. I'm less proficient when people are directing me or watching me do something I'm not 100% sure of how to do, or just can't remember. That doesn't make it less infuriating - and draining.
But this is more about abstract, "philosophical" (read: religious) ideas. I can't convince a Christian that hating immigrants is wrong in order to convince them that we should provide healthcare to immigrants, plus first convincing them providing healthcare to anyone is a good idea. I don't have the energy nor the time, and frankly I have no idea how to pull right wingers out of their mobius strip of a brain. Clearly, neither does anyone else in our world today, which is why it's ending.
They Aren't Listening
That brings us to the real problem: they aren't listening. They don't want to be convinced. They don't want to change their minds. Any perception you may have that someone wants to change their mind is just a trick of theirs to "get one" more over on you. They're trying to convince you of their side. Giving you a bit of leeway in order to "trick" you into believing what they believe.
They're "Just Having Fun"
And so to my thesis. They're "just having fun". In metamodern parlance, we call that mismatched irony levels. The person you think is crazy stupid is just messing with you, because they believe something you don't, and want to punish you for it. This is the same thing you're doing, but just in the opposite direction. This plays out hundreds of times on the internet every day now. So-and-so can't spell, or thinks that astrology is real, or that the world is ending and Jesus is coming in 4 years. They don't 100% believe what they're saying, but they believe something you don't, and have written you off in the same way you have written them off. Arguing with these people is a waste of time. Much like their arguing with you is a waste of time.
I don't want to be these people. I have very strong beliefs about the world, and those won't change - for example, you're not going to make me religious, and truthfully I see religious people as damaged and broken. Calling it out makes you feel temporarily better for about 5 seconds, and then profoundly worse for years. This is probably a societal force at play, and maybe a bad instinct which leads to the "moderate" neolib desire to cover things up. But it also keeps me from self-hatred for lashing out at what is still the majority.
I Am Mean
For clarity, I suggest reading Resolutions by Gabe from Penny-Arcade before the rest of this.
I still see people who attack me as the enemy and I strike back with the same ferocity as that seventh grader I used to be.
I wasn't like that as a 7th grader, but I turned into it as a college kid fed up with the world. Fed up with being bullied my whole life and shouted down for not being as loud as everyone else. Trying to argue with people brings that back, so I avoid it.
Some people are angry drunks; some are angry debaters. I'm the latter, so I don't argue. That's the size of it.
You Gain Nothing
Even after all of that, you manage to bring one person to your side - there are 8 billion people in the world now. You've done nothing. Absolutely nothing.
This isn't just the problem with arguing and persuasion, but is the main problem in my life right now. Everything is pointless. I am no one. Everything I say and do gets ignored and talked over.
Why do anything? Why write this?
Right now, all I have is "I have to do something". Not to try to change the world, but to live in it without going crazy. I am barely hanging onto that by a thread, and it's slipping. My conscious mind knows that everything I do is pointless, but lizard-brain hasn't cottoned on completely. But it's learning.