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  • Terri

I'm either right or you're wrong.

The world is allergic to dialogue.

The other day, someone on a social media platform made a comment, and I agreed with what they said with the addition of my own point of view on the matter. Their response? "You should just say you agree with me." That is not a quote, but the grammatically correct version of what they said. The message either way was clear: agree or go away. I liked what he had to say, I just added my point of view. Due to the lack of an "auto-agree", I got sassed, and when I defended my point, there was no more response. Someone in my writer's group made a provocative post. Naturally, a lot of people came to share their opinion. I shared mine, and the response was: "Well this is my opinion, and I don't care what you think." "That's perfectly fine, but if you didn't want your point of view challenged, then why bring it up?" They blocked me. Mind you, the post was about how thin-skinned people are. In hindsight, I realized my statement wasn't correct, you should be able to express what you think without having to debate it. Too bad we'll never have a dialogue about it. A while ago I talked about cultural appropriation and what it really meant. I talked about trying to find the red line that ties the controversy together. Something to form a pattern, and to help me identify when something could be cultural appropriation even if I may not see it at first. This was a challenge, because whenever I asked why they considered something cultural appropriation, I'd get cussed out. I never said anything that devalued their statement, or opposed it, they just wouldn't talk to me. I can argue my point, disagree with someone, and still have respect for them. I can believe something is not inappropriate, but still choose to no longer participate in it, respecting someone else's point of view. I am a lot of things, and not everyone I met, was perfectly comfortable with some of the things I am, or stand for. For me, that was okay. They didn't hurt me, or treated me differently. They let me be me, and in exchange, they were free to be uncomfortable with it. At the end of the day, we went our separate ways. Now, some opinions aren't okay, because they lead to harmful behavior. But I don't think you can force someone to be okay with how you see the world, I don't think you can tell someone to just be comfortable with something, and condemn them if they don't change their feelings. This all seems so straight forward, but it's really something we've forgotten. We've become a society that wants everyone to look in the same direction, that wants everyone to get along and believe the same things. It's like we want the whole world to be our friend, change everyone's mind to fit our own, and if they don't fit, we resent them. We forgot that, in most cases, people are entitled to their feelings, and convincing them of your ideals, doesn't change how they feel. We forgot that feelings aren't always rational, or conscious. Feelings can be challenged. We are all able to have that moment of cognitive dissonance where our view changes, where we change. But if not, that should be okay too. We forgot how to agree to disagree, shake hands and walk away. Some people will get along despite the different opinions, their relationships thrive because they teach each other, even if they never agree. The dialogue made them understand each other better. We're allergic to dialogue. because these days it's scary to start a dialogue. People are so quick to attack someone, or try to mute them by calling them a name that devalues their point of view. These days, speaking up in a group that believes one thing is like sticking your hand into a hornets nest. And people become resentful because they feel they cannot have their own opinion without being cussed out for it. In turn, they act out, and we fight. We stopped hearing each other out. Disagree with me, that's great! Tell me why you think I'm wrong, so I can understand you better. Let me tell you what I think, maybe I can teach you something new. Even after listening, you don't have to change your mind, no matter what you decide to do, you learned something new, isn't that amazing? Don't be scared to hear someone say "I think you're wrong". It is not a divine judgement, even if the internet makes it feel that way. Have a dialogue, learn something new, agree to disagree.

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