Thursday, July 27, 2017

Challenge unaccepted

At some point in your life you probably say, "It's not me, it's you."

At another point in your life, you might say, "It's not me, it's them."

Not everyone shares the same opinions as yourself, it's part of the rich tapestry of life.

This is life
I consider myself to be open to change. Change in opinions, attitudes, behaviour, that just me, not "them"? It would seem to be. Indeed, it would seem that my statement of "I consider myself to be open to change" is in fact another one of those opinions on which not everyone happens to agree.

There have been some experiences in recent times that I'd rather not have happened, interactions with some that lead to angst, anger, resentment and a feeling that I had disappointed people, not just because I presented a differing opinion, but because it was seen as an offensive opinion and taken as a personal attack on those involved. That's a hard place to come back from, in fact it's impossible. Not because you can't change your mind on the opinion given, but because an immovable belief has been placed in the other person's head as to the type of person you are.

It doesn't matter what you say, what you do, what ends you go to to explain or apologise or clarify or point out that what you meant was not actually what was said.

This happened a few years ago and the person in question took great offence at something said, seemingly ignoring the manner, the context, the "quote" aspect of it. Friendship damaged, Michael labelled, end of discussion, end of friendship. Then a bit of public online abuse followed.

Was it deserved? Yes. The person dishing it out believed that 100%
Personally, however, I don't believe it was warranted at all, but then...

I guess I would...
So anyway, I got past all that business, believing that the other person went a bit far, didn't actually hear what I was saying or why and then decided it was a good point to jump off the friendship. Perhaps it was silly of me to think that it was all about this single issue.

And now I realise it probably wasn't about a single issue at all! Perhaps I am seen by others as one of those people who always makes comments that they kind of put up with, but at some stage they think, "god, how can one person be so (insert adjective here)..."

Annoying? Offensive? Vulgar?

But it isn't actually even that, it's how I respond to issues. I get told I'm doing something unpleasant or rude or offensive, and my response is "hey hold on, I didn't mean that, I meant it this way", and then the issue is no longer about the topic, it's about my inability to accept the criticism or the "being called out on shit".

We are familiar with the Backfire Effect, the habit of people who when shown facts that don't align with their own beliefs, they hold on to them stronger than ever before. A seemingly foolish response to being shown the reality of an issue or situation. It would seem I have my own version of that, not holding on to an out-dated or incorrect opinion, but a reaction that makes it seem like I am not open to such a discussion or am too busy professing my own rightness.

Keep in mind, I PERSONALLY think I'm okay at being called out on shit. If I say something wrong and someone is upset, I will own up to it. But maybe that's only if I can empathise with it? Or perhaps if it is so blatant that I think "Oh god, that did sound awful".

I have said of myself, I'm rude because I talk over everyone. It's a personal habit I have been breaking, not because of it in itself, but because it was misaligned with being sexist. Talking over women is sexist, talking over everyone is rude. I am rude.

I am rude.

I am rude.

No excuses, I am a rude person.

I am working on it and it was prompted by the accusation of sexism. An accusation I strenuously denied and continue to do so. An accusation that helped form an opinion of me, an incorrect one, but one used to support other opinions. Mostly negative. A negative view of me which my actions as described previously, only serve to support.

Rude. Sexist. Racist. Unable to be criticised, unable to see how offensive he is.

Well, shit.

I thought I'd been doing okay. I thought I was a nice person, someone with whom others enjoyed company and shenanigans. And sure, I'm told "it's only a few people who say this", but still...

I also am now in a position where to defend myself serves no purpose, the opinions are out there.

My opinions or responses are no longer required to further a conversation with or without me. They are "known"...assumed.

I remember people saying in the past, "Michael, I'm interested in your opinion on....", but not anymore. Nobody needs to ask my opinion. It's a known quantity. I'm a 43 year old, privileged white male. An over-opinionated, privileged white male who hasn't had to struggle in his life, has had everything handed to him if he needed it, has the luxury of ignorance having never experienced hardship, abuse or unemployment, who never struggled day to day, a non-feminist who doesn't get the fight women have had in order to get seen as something other than a sex object, their fight for equality, their suffering at the hands or rather mouth of someone like me, whose language offends, puts down, holds back, perpetuates the sexist attitudes of other males, one who contributes to the rape culture of our society. If you're not with me, you're part of the problem, and I'm clearly not with them...

Don't even start on my arrogance, in denying all that above, in assuming I understand things I couldn't possibly understand because of my privilege. Ignorance of all around me because of this privilege.

Look at his fluffy chin...wait, sexist!
I have stopped giving my opinion to people about anything that matters in the world, not because I don't have them, but because I have no desire to share them. Sure, I'll poke at Trump, I'll poke at the Australian Government if they do something I find unpleasant, but I'm not giving those opinions to friends or acquaintances. My family knows them, they don't need to hear them.

But the main reason I don't share them is because I have no wish to upset people. Not from my opinion, or my habit of presenting the other side so that people can be challenged in their views, but because it is ruining who I am. It is ruining who I am in the eyes of others.

Your toddler opens a cupboard door and wrecks the crockery - you lock the door.
Your cat knocks over the cup on the bench - you move the cups off the bench.
Your friends get upset or disappointed in your views - you stop giving them.
You find yourself getting defensive over things that don't matter - stop.

When your closest friends refuse to challenge you on things you say, you are the one at fault. "That's just Michael" isn't good enough. Michael is being shit. Michael needs to stop being shit. Michael is stopping being shit.

My being hurt at someone telling me how they deal with me isn't them being poor. It isn't them being mean or nasty. It is me creating a feeling that they can't approach me. That's on me.

To get things on the record, I guess I could list some of my opinions as a kind of reference. Just so the reader is clear when they're making their assumptions.

- I am a leftie, but I accept nobody thinks they are doing the wrong thing in Parliament.
- I am an atheist, but I accept religion works for some people. I think most religions are nuts however and those who blindly follow without questioning are missing something in their life that has drawn them to it. Or, you know, family tradition.
- I find many feminists aggressive. I don't like it. I don't like being treated like the enemy, I don't like being painted as a sexist and I certainly don't like being talked to like an idiot.
- I don't care that there is a female 13th Doctor. I can see the positives of course, but then I could see the positives in a male 13th Doctor. I had a personal preference for a male, but that's passed and it wasn't strong enough for me to care that it wasn't. Assuming anything else in that opinion is wrong.

Other than those, here are some random things I have changed my opinion on in recent times.

- I no longer support the death penalty. As hard as that is at times, I look at the Martin Bryant's of the world or Ted Bundy's and think, they deserve/d to die. But not now. Not anymore. And given where I came from, this was a big decision.
-  I used to dislike people drinking alcohol because it made them do stupid things. This was based on a hangup from 25 years ago. I now don't care.
- I have let go of angers from the past because it only affects one person. Not the person I was angry with. Holding onto negative feelings for no good reason is a negative. I wish to fill my life with positives.

I don't promote this blog anymore, I don't announce my posts and I don't particularly care.

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