Mixed Company

Monday, February 1, 2010
There are certain subjects I won't discuss in mixed company.* I define "mixed company" as any gathering where I believe it's important that people don't get wrapped around the axle as a result of a conversational topic. So pretty much any gathering where there's family, colleagues, or people I don't know very well. The topics I won't discuss should be pretty obvious, too. Religion. Abortion. Most politics. Sex.

I choose not to discuss these subjects for the following reasons:
  1. I'm not going to change anyone's mind.
  2. It creates bad feelings.
  3. I tend to learn things about people that I'd really rather not know.
  4. Did I mention that I know I'm not going to change anyone's mind?
I consider my decision not to engage in these topics with these people to be one primarily motivated by consideration. Since I know (I know) I'm not going to change anyone's mind on the subject at hand, I don't see the point in getting everyone up in arms over controversial topics for the sake of argument. It serves no purpose, and since I'm usually the one with the minority opinion, I keep my thoughts to myself for the sake of keeping the peace.

There have been times when I felt that curbing my tongue on these matters was dishonest. That by choosing to remain silent I was somehow betraying my own belief system. As I've grown older, however, I've decided that while I certainly won't allow racist commentary and other foulness to slide by without comment, the rest of it simply isn't worth it. So I maintain the polite fiction that I don't know (for example) YEC fundamentalist Christians think I'm an arrogant jerk for not taking their faith as fact, while they maintain the polite fiction that they don't know I think they're intellectually dishonest goofballs for not taking my facts as...well, facts. We both know it's a fiction - our viewpoints are diametrically opposed. But we let it go in the interest of maintaining the polite facade.

But some people just don't want to leave well enough alone.

I'm not going to make gross generalizations here, but I will ask the question - how come points 1 and 4 above are so obvious to me, yet appear to elude a small subsection of the population?

*********
*Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men is not "mixed company." It's my on-line home, where I am free to share my opinions on a variety of topics, and feel no need to "keep the peace." If you don't want to listen to my screeds, you're free to leave, just as you would be if you visited me in my brick-and-mortar home.

6 comments:

Mrs. Bitch said...

As mouthy and opinionated as I am, I agree with you completely. I always consider people who will try and argue you out of a strongly held belief to be extremely rude. They're assuming that you either haven't taken the time to consider the issue fully, or you've just been too stupid to arrive at the correct conclusion. They will enlighten you.

Jerry Critter said...

Maybe they are simply trying to convince themselves.

After all, repeat a lie enough times and you begin to believe it.

Vagabond said...

Wikipedia actually has my two favorite quotes on this subject under the heading "fanatic." George Santayana said fanaticism is, "redoubling your effort when you've forgotten your aim." According to Churchill, a fanatic is one who, "can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Fanaticism most easily affects the ignorant, the fearful, and those with low self esteem or self awareness.

Nathan said...

Oh, c'mon. You love it when I tell you you're full of shit.

:D

Janiece said...

Nathan, you're not mixed company.

Karl said...

I've found that many will simply repeat certain talking points (religious/party/whatever) because they haven't stopped to think the subject over or research it for themselves and come to their own conclusions - easier that way, ya know? No thought necessary.

I think Jerry hit it - it's overcompensating for doubt of self...