Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Someone Is Wrong on the Internet

I'm tired of affirmation. Sure, watching The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and attending atheist conventions is great - I'm right, they're wrong; I'm smart, they're stupid. Feels good. Even my Facebook feed is in on it, algorithmically exposing me to those updates least likely to make me feel anything other than a sort of tribal satiation.

But now I'm sick of it. I want to be challenged, want to argue with people with different ideas, or even just be exposed to those ideas. When I see a bold declaration of God's healing powers in my feed now, it's like meeting an attractive female with similar interests. I don't want to miss my opportunity to make a connection, to talk. I flirt a little, turn on the charm, try and keep the conversation going for as long as I can, knowing it will eventually devolve into nothing after I manage to say the wrong thing.

Clay Johnson in The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption talks at length about our need to escape from the cycle of affirmation. Our mental health and our political system depend on it. I value my christian facebook connections more than my other connections for this reason. They are the ones who challenge me. But I seem to lack the ability to keep them around.

Another two christian friends jumped ship today, and I managed to piss off another New Age friend. Isn't there some way we can be friends and still actively disagree? I try so very, very hard to consider every sentence I utter, and deliver them in the least offensive possible way. Of course, I could just avoid those subjects which may be controversial. Not everyone is as keen to have someone suggest they are wrong as I am. But I can hold out for hope.

How about you? Are you able to have satisfying conversations with people you disagree with? Do you have to be careful about how you do it? Let me know in the comments.


  1. in the last week I have tried to correct 2 ANZAC day ranters ( they think the Muslims are coming to take of Australia ).
    Lightly suggested to a friend that has seen a naturopath that homeopathic pills are full of nothing and been tempted to tell a relative that the recent profile picture change that looks like Jesus on a cross but is a star system imaged by hubble is paradolia .
    Maybe I should find a better hobby .
    Brett m

  2. I have a good friend who is a homeopath, but I'd never correct her on it. I would however continue to pursue laws that would put her out of business :-P

  3. People's reactions are their own responsibility. If they can't have a normal philosophical discussion without getting defensive, then go ahead and let 'em get pissed off. Their problem, not yours. Hopefully, they will reflect later.