As I type out this post, an unsettling feeling overpowers me. But I don’t want this post to be about my disappointment with people around me. Instead, I want to analyze the situation critically.
Why do people argue? I’ve had a lot of people around me contest my point of views on various occasions, some of them, extremely trivial. There is a pattern, and it’s different with men and women. I happen to be in a field that has an overwhelming majority of men, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). I hence have the most number of interactions with them. And I used to think that I can get along a lot more easily with guys than girls, being a self-proclaimed tomboy. But when it comes to arguments, I think I’m better equipped to deal with girls than guys. Or “men”.
This isn’t an article about male-bashing, no. I am just saying that I find it easier to understand a girl’s point of view and her set of reactions, emotional or intellectual, towards situations of conflict, as opposed to a guy’s PoV. Men that I interact with, are far more assertive with their arguments. There’s a good amount of ego that comes into play. I have a big issue with the sense of self-entitlement that people in this generation come with. “I have an opinion, and I must voice it!”. What opinion? How did this opinion shape up? How relevant is that opinion to the conversation? Does it benefit anything or anyone? What factors led you to believe what you do? And most importantly, why do my opinions have to be the same as yours?
Most of the opinions that we form are due to the society that we live in. External factors play a key role in how we react to situations. Upbringing and experiences as well. We stink as intuitive psychologists. So it is natural that we accumulate a sense of false consensus, while evaluating another person’s PoV. The idea that a lot of people inadvertently carry is that anyone who does not conform to their set of notions about the world, should be wrong, because if they aren’t, that makes these people “abnormal” or lowers their self-esteem. And so, when someone doesn’t have the same outlook towards an issue as they do, these people take up the unfortunate task of convincing that person about why their outlook is better. And if that person isn’t perceptive enough, suggestions turn into arguments.
Another thing that displeases me is that people use “bluntness” as a tool. Sounds ironic enough. But just because someone has the freedom to voice an opinion, does not entitle that person to say it in a crude way. Has civilization not taught people anything? Respectfully stating an opinion is one thing. Trying to impose it on someone else in a distasteful way, another. I’m no exception to this myself, I have done both. I feel disappointed in myself to have resorted to the later… I usually get to that stage when I feel extremely worked up and frustrated with someone. It’s still not a good attack strategy.
I find emotionally charged up arguments, to be the worst. Because then there is simply no scope for rationality. You are turned into some kind of a heartless villain, for underestimating emotions. Such arguments are usually moot; they just serve as a channel for people to voice their frustrations. I admit, I have done this myself, and that’s another wrong move. But I guess people do require certain outlets, and if it’s between friends who have a good enough understanding between them, then they usually patch up within minutes. It’s a rather stupid thing to dwell over.
I don’t think two people can always be on the same page. Our experiences don’t let us. Heck, that’s what make us unique as people. So if I label someone as “argumentative”, I’m the fool. Maybe that person has just had extremely disjoint set of experiences that I just cannot relate to. Arguments can actually even be constructive, as long as both sides get to have equal footing. If a particular argument, constraint or condition is used against me, I should be able to use the same against you in a similar context.
At the end of the day, arguments are just a fraction of the multitude of things to get through, including important things like work, studies and leisure. Unfortunately they take up a lot of head-space sometimes, I’d rather not allocate so much memory to it. There are more important tasks to perform.