Thursday, October 1, 2009

Falling Back

I got this bad habit.

I've told y'all about it, promised to change, but man I can't shake it. Feels like King Kong is copping a piggyback ride, and that hairy bastard got super glue on his chest.

I, Big Man, am a Debate-a-holic.

Like many folks with a dependency problem, I've long told myself it's no big deal. I could stop arguing with random people at any time. Hell, it was easy for me to cut back, to stop visiting certain sites, to stop checking the comments section. Yeah, I liked the thrill of eviscerating someone's weak argument, and I loved having folks jump on my bandwagon, but I didn't need that stuff. It was just something to pass the time.

But, I'm addicted.

I've only recently been able to acknowledge that I have a compulsion. A near uncontrollable desire to argue with people and their opinions. I'm not saying I can never control this desire because I often can. What I'm saying is that the desire never, ever goes away. It's always lurking in the pit of my stomach, waiting for a chance to force my lips or fingers to do it's bidding.

I've seen it ruin perfectly good evenings with my wife. Sometimes it forces me to waste hours of my life with strangers on the internet. I'm not saying it's all bad, but honestly, I'm hard-pressed to find a true "good" in it. Sure, I feel like I'm a better "thinker" than most folks, but how does that benefit me in the long run?

So, I've recently committed myself to toning down the arguing and teaching myself how to let people say what they want without feeling compelled to answer them. Currently, I'm failing miserably, but I have hope that I'll have a breakthrough soon enough. What I need to do is channel my ability to think critically and formulate arguments into something that is truly productive, not just entertaining.

Any suggestions?



Prince Chambliss said...

Have you thought about attending law school? Really, it's never too late.

Big Man said...

Prince Chambliss

This has been suggested to me. I don't know.

Shady_Grady said...

Remind yourself that there are some irredeemably stupid people on this planet and many of them have internet connections..

Deacon Blue said...

I just try to pick and choose. There are places I'll dig in for a long battle potentially, but those places and times are few and far between now. It's hard sometimes to refrain from commenting against someone's idiocy (or what I perceive as their idiocy anyway), but over time, I've gotten better at it.

Granted, I was never the level of debate-a-holic you were, so your curve will be tougher, but you can do it if you want to.

Also, I've just learned to do a better job of realizing which people really want to talk, and dismissing those who don't once they prove they're just taking swings at me to work off their own chips on shoulders.

Black Diaspora said...

Confession's good for the soul--so that's a good start.

I know the urge, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't, but I have broken off on many occasions, rather than pursue an argument where I know and "irresistible force [has ...met] an immovable object."

I can't tell you how to overcome the "urge," but I can suggest when not to engage.

If a commenter has been posting awhile--you know if they're agenda-driven--don't argue with them. It's useless.

If they have an axe to grind, and you learn this after awhile, don't argue with them. It's useless.

If they're trolls, only there to distract, to hog the attention with outrageous remarks, don't argue with them--it's useless.

Those are my guidelines. I follow them most of the time, but will occasionally slip and argue, even though I know to argue is useless.

Mr. Noface said...

I have the same problem (especially when it comes to certain blogs), but I found that if I use the 2-24 hour rule I get myself involved in a lot less internet altercations of the argumentative variety. This is usually because I realize that the foe whose argument I plan to dismantle is ultimately not worth the effort, or that someone else expresses my thoughts more clearly and less controversially than I would have, or that I'm able to calm down enough to truly appreciate what my "foe" is saying before deciding to respond or not to respond.

Tit for Tat said...

Well, most Christians just accept the fact that they are sinners. But people in the secular world get real time help and book an appointment with a psychologist. ;)

Deacon Blue said...

Or, Christians like my wife pray AND book time with the mental health professionals when the need arises.

Tit for Tat said...

But're saved it doesnt matter if you're sane.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I believe it’s a matter of picking your battles. There are some battles that are very inviting because there are real opportunities to exchange ideas and come out the wiser. Frankly, there are those debates that are inviting mainly because you can whup-up on the person, but there is nothing to be gained from such a battle.

A few things I try to keep in mind before I engage in one of these cyberspace debates. First, I’m not here seeking a debate. I’m here to speak my peace and keep steppin. My opinion though important to me, is not unassailable, and does not necessarily need to be defended at every challenge. But if someone is earnest in their engagement then I’ll reciprocate. Otherwise I’ll not invest the time.

Next, avoid those that are unable to stay on topic. It's easy to get caught up with someone who hijack a thread, but avoid the temptation.

Finally, ignore the racist pigs, they are still relying on 19th century arguments to address 21st century issues.

Know what they say, Once a holic always a holic! step one.

clay said...

I too, like to debate, the more controversial the debate the more likely I am to wade in... however, of late I have come to realize that not everyone is actually searching for "truth" as much as they are attempting to bait someone into an argument, and have no intention to engage in meaningful dialog or growth. As someone else said, just ignore it, or listen to their views and respond by saying, "thanks for sharing...." Afterall, most of us don't change our views under duress, more often its when we have a "lightbulb" moment... Lightbulb moments don't usually happen in the heat of debate....

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

I love debates myself and usually learn something, as well as teach. I like the reciprocal process.

My greatest turnoff is outright abusiveness. Real life brings enough unexpected insults and abuse without feuding some wannabe Big D*ck, Queen B, or Defender of Whiteness in cyberspace.

I ain't Super Woman in this chaotic world, so I walk away, b/c fighting with those folks is pointless.

Deacon Blue said...

But're saved it doesnt matter if you're sane.

Tit for Tat,

I'm kinda partial to having life here on this plane of existence be as peaceful and enjoyable as possible. So I like the idea of mental health at home, and around the people who are forced (or desire) to interact with us.

I'm pretty partial to them being mentally well, too, to cut down on my stress level.

Some people can get by singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" all day long, but I prefer to avail myself of all the medical and social tools available. God went to a lot of trouble to make sure to give some of those folks fantastic skill sets to fix my head and other peoples' heads.

Deacon Blue said...

By the way, Tit for Tat, that shouldn't have come across as a rebuttal (insert amused, sarcastic tones when reading it)...I forgot the LOL at the beginning of my comment, because I thought your statement was a funny enough comment.

Big Man said...

Well, thanks for all the advice. I'm going to use some of it.

LisaMJ said...

I'm late to this party but I really like the advice folks give here. I am on the same wavelength with you Big Man, I do tend to get myself into debates and though I don't "love" to argue, I find myself doing it more than I'd like. I have been trying to be better with that after getting into a few whoppers, and except for here, I'm trying to lurk more and comment less, b/c it cuts down on the online debates and I try to ignore trolls. Not easy though. Lately I've been struggling with it a lot, esp since I've recently become addicted to Mad Men and got into a big debate about sexism on a website about that the other day and it finally ended when I said that I had nothing else to say on the topic and I was getting a big headache. I do like to partake in discussions but sometimes it is just easier to keep my mouth shut and on some sites, I hardly read the comments anymore. This is especially the case on Field Negro's site, lots of good commenters on there but the trolls have hijaked his threads so often it isn't always worth reading through that garbage and it can make me sick to my stomach rading the stuff the racists keep pipping in with on there.

Deacon Blue said...


As much as I admire the philosophy that Field has to not stifle folks, you are right that there are certain folks there who do nothing but stir the pot and should have been banned long ago. Such folks have made it difficult to want to even read the comments.

Eubie Drew said...

Good Ideas.

The way I work it is, in a sense, to not worry about winning. I play a different game, and I usually get some satisfaction out of it. I try to analyze my counterpart's thinking and ideas, even when they are expressed with hostility, and try to get him/her to map those ideas out and look at them with me. I even look for ways to concede points and validate parts of what they say, especially acknowledge anger, while slowly building my case. Most combative commentators can't handle my being relentlessly understanding.

Most people who disagree with a hostile person respond in kind, mutually reinforcing each others anger. Or they try to appease the aggressive person. Or they belittle him. Or some other nonproductive responsive.

Doing it right ofcourse takes awhile and and the results are iffy, so you only want to bother to thread the needle when the goal is worth it.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the results are spectacular.

I have a short conversation that I have preserved between me and a fellow all worked up over a pro-IR YouTube vid. I hope you don't mind if I drop it here to give an example.

Wishing you all progress.

Eubie Drew said...

Here's the convo:

keilyngodson26 (6 days ago)

White men are opportunists. They have waited for the destruction of the black male to move in on our women, when before, as they are now, THEY ARE NOT WORTHY! No white man in this world is worthy of a black woman. She lowers her standards because the standards for black men are so low right now, and a Quarter million are in prison! A quarter Million! Imagine a cracker getting with a black women in the sixties, when black men were strong and united. I wouldnt happen. Now that we are broken....

sashavujaciclover (6 days ago)

oh shut the fuck up you racist pig.

trenchnurse (2 days ago)

It sounds to me that you are afraid of a little competition. Its not a question of strength or unity. Its a question of quality. Most black men in the 1960's treated black women better back then. At least they didnt refer to black women as "bitches" and "hos"! Black women (like all women) wanted to be treated well. If black men wont, some white men will!
Instead of black men hating on white men, why dont black men "man up" and raise their own standards so black women will go back to them?

keilyngodson26 (2 days ago)

I respect your opinion, but there IS no competition between Black and white Men. Black men are physically superior, have more swagger, confidence and style, etc. and White men have more capital.Capitalism rules. Black women ARENT choosing White men because they treat them better, In actuality, it is Black men who are most often mistreated and disrespected by mouthy black women. The Black Man has been reduced to his monetary value, instead of being judged by his "Soul" and morals like in the 60's

Aabaakawad (1 hour ago)

BM/WW dating is twice as common as WM/BW dating. Not that I am complaining but hey who is pilfering whose women? White men take advantage of black men in a lot of ways, but this is not one of them.

Most (not all) black women I know who are dating out say they did because they are frustrated with the shortage of black men whom they can trust to be husbands & fathers. It breaks their hearts.

They say this. I gotta trust them. They also claim they get more respect (on average) from white men.

Aabaakawad (1 hour ago)

keilyngodson26, do you think it is possible for white men to be redeemed, if not as a race, at least as individuals?

keilyngodson26 (1 hour ago)

I dont understand your profile, but maybe someone else will read this; Whites have ALREADY been redeemed individually. Blacks dont just go around hating white people, we couldnt if we wanted to, lest we admire prison! When was the last time youve heard of racially motivated violence perpetrated against whites by blacks? NEVER! We dont have time to hate whites..We're too busy trying to survive. As a race, redemption will only come through repentance! Until then, we should be realistic.

Aabaakawad (30 minutes ago)

I agree completely with what you just said. I just wanted to see if you made that distinction, i am glad you do. I am doing what I can to nudge my fellow wm to understand this need for repentence, but most of them aren't very reflective. They like to think blacks "had a hard time but its over" when really we are talking about generations of absolute soul-destroying family crushing hell that's still sloshing its evil energy through lives of blacks, They cant seem to wrap thier minds around that.

Aabaakawad (24 minutes ago)

I brought up individual redemption because I am curious what you think is going on with those white men who form families with (not just date or hook-up with) black women. What's the motivation. I think most of these men are good people.

keilyngodson26 (15 minutes ago)

If all whites thought like you, there would be no racial tension. Peace

Aabaakawad (5 minutes ago)

Thank you. You are kind. My profile is mysterious because it is brand new and blank. Wishing you progress my friend.

Raving Black Lunatic