The sad inutility of offering a constructive discussion to ignorant people

A while ago, a friend of mine on Facebook reproached me a bit for trying to argue with people regardless of the discussed topic. She said that trying to reason with people about politics, stereotypes, prejudice and religions was useless.

I’m a fighter by nature… This doesn’t imply that I attack people on purpose but that I try to get my point across and to stand up for what I believe in (yes, even though I’m the only one standing!).

I had to mellow a bit in recent years because how I said these things was, often, more of a problem than what I had said. Well, the longer I was online and the more spot-on my friend appeared to be. And not just about those things mentioned by her, but nearly everything.

I understood it is not a problem of topics, it is a problem of people. A large majority of people has no ability to discuss things, whether in a civil or uncivil manner, nor they want to learn it. A few animated discussions I had online recently convinced me that a great number of people can’t accept they are wrong about something and they get on their high horse nearly immediately, often resorting to insults or offences. But why is that?

For example…. Many of you heard what kind of dirt came out about Bill Cosby, the American comedian. For nearly one month he was the ‘hot’ topic on many social media, hundreds of thousands of commenters ferociously arguing that he was mud-slinged or that he should have paid for his crimes. I’ve no idea how many of these comments I read, struggling to understand why a normal person equipped with an average IQ would even doubt that 30 women who didn’t know each other could tell the same story without any previous agreement of any sort. Clearly, many of the commenters accused the victims to be after money and fame, as if… that it was even relevant (one month later, I still see that people talk about the ‘real’ celebrities, not someone who was raped by a famous person….).

The impression I got from many of the comments was a lingering feeling of FEAR. Fear of having ‘loved’ or idealised a serial rapist, fear of believing that even someone who apparently was a well-respected actor could be a monster. Lots of people did NOT want to believe these women for the simple fact that believing them meant accepting a horrible truth…. A serial rapist/abuser could be anyone, worse… he/she could be someone you trust. Many people finds convenient to reject this idea because it is far worse than the denial of it.

I’ve had more or less the same issues about two other topics…

First one was: Is higher education useful or not? This ended up with me being banned on a Facebook account… Some people want to believe that higher education is not useful because it didn’t or doesn’t guarantee them a job, whilst for me being educated has been fundamental in my life and I will never regret it even if I end up cleaning toilets for the rest of my life with my degree hung on a wall at home. Although the lady who banned me was right somehow, because from her replies it was evident that higher education had been wasted on her.

Second one was: Is ’50 shades of grey’ a story about an abusive relationship? Yes, it is, but the fans and the readers who appreciated book (and film) won’t ever admit it, see Cosby paragraph above. Confronted with the stories of domestic violence and rape survivors, the fans FEAR that what they’ve admired and enjoyed was in reality wrong or even a crime. They don’t want to ‘understand’ the reality of it, they want their sexual, dirty fantasies to be intact without being ruined by the crude truth. Countless women who adored the book feel appropriate to point out that the book’s sex scenes are only BDSM (An overlapping abbrevation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM).) and not domestic violence, thus calling several DV/rape survivors out as prude or worse. Fact is, none of them has any idea of what DV and rape are (fortunately for them!) and I still have to hear a survivor who liked the book.
Using a ‘safe word’ during sex play and then it gets disregarded by one of the involved parties transforms the sexual encounter in rape (my ex always used the ‘safe word’, a game that ended up badly… police also found out I wasn’t the only one who had been raped, he was a serial). BDSM is ok between two consenting people when the consent of one is not overriden by the other. When one of two partners constantly override the other party’s consent is ABUSE. Try to explain this to people who read the book and see what happens…..

In conclusion, I guess that my friend’s underlying message was that it is pretty much a waste of time trying to instill knowledge on people who just don’t want to understand for the sake of it.
A piece of advice I will treasure for the future 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! xx

Merlin

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