July 24, 2004

DISCORD

When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who did a number on my self-esteem. Everything I did was wrong. My taste in music: wrong. My clothes: wrong. My views on social issues: wrong. I spent so much time being hurt because he never gave my views any credence; he simply said, "How can you think something like that?" and then told me the right way to think. I hated it, but I kept trying to please him because I hate disagreeing with people.

I hate disagreeing with people. Not something that someone who enjoys reading about politics should say, right? But I really do hate it. I hate discord. I hate arguments. I hate not having common ground. I usually try to avoid people and situations where I know there'll be discord because I'm so bad at dealing with it. I can't argue with someone and then turn around and be friends again in ten minutes. I just can't; it lingers...

So I do anything to avoid arguing. When someone says, "Ugh, Bush did blah blah blah..." I just ignore it and change the topic. I'd rather just let them think what they think than get myself riled up by discussing the issue. Just last weekend I sat at a table while three people railed on President Bush and I didn't say anything. Until it got out of hand and one person stooped to making monkey noises, at which point I calmly said, "That's quite rude, considering I plan to vote for the man." And that was that. But it lingered...

The way my high school boyfriend treated me has stuck with me, and I never want to be the person telling someone else what to think. I never want to be the person putting down someone's ideas or taste. I never say what I think of movies, or food, or music, or anything, for fear of hurting someone's feelings the way my feelings were hurt every time my boyfriend made fun of my music or views. If someone asks me what I thought of a movie, I always hedge. I often turn the question back on them to see what they thought before I give my opinion. It's a horrible habit, I know, but I can't feel good about myself if I'm making strong statements that others disagree with.

Which is why I started this blog. I don't talk about these things in person. I hate it. I never talk politics or current events in person because I don't want to make anyone feel stupid for holding certain views. Tim talked in his farewell post about how the internet allows people to express views they would never express in "polite company". He sees this as a bad thing, but it has been a very liberating thing for me. I want to work out my own ideas, and writing is how I do that best. But no one is forced to read my site, so it's not the same thing as forcing someone into a conversation they don't want to be having. I say things here I would never dream of saying in person, simply because my blog is the one place where I feel comfortable being direct. I still think people should be civil, and lord knows I hate discord in the comments section, but my blog is an open soapbox where I can air my views and not worry about sounding rude.

Which is why it's been extremely weird for me to have people in my "real" life read my blog. Very few people even know I blog, and I'd really like to keep it that way, because there are so many times when I wish I'd never told any of them. Most of the time they agree with me, and everything is fine, until something comes up in "real" life that's a major source of discord. Like tonight when my friends said, "I can't believe you're reading that book." All of a sudden I was back in high school again, trying to defend myself and why I'm reading Larry Elder. "Ugh, I would never read a book like that" sounds in my ears like "You are a huge moron", and it really bothers me. Because I would never say something like that. That's what my high school boyfriend said, and I would never treat someone that way. Even if a person were reading Noam Chomsky, I'd never say anything. When a friend offered to lend me Bowling for Columbine, I simply said, "No thanks; I'm not a big Michael Moore fan." I bend over backwards to avoid offending people, just so they never have to feel as incompetent as I did in high school.

I know I'm over-sensitive about things like this, and I know it's my fault that I can't let things like that go, but I really don't know how to change. I don't know how to let go of the hurt I feel when someone puts my interests down. It lingers...

Posted by: Sarah at 05:17 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 842 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Ugh, I know what you mean. Which book by Elder are you reading? I like a lot of his stuff--at least, what I've read on CapMag. Btw, I'm watching Band of Brothers, in part due to your recommedations. I think I'm heading out to get the book tonight...

Posted by: Carla at July 24, 2004 05:56 PM (r5M6F)

2 Oh, man, now I feel really guilty! You should feel PROUD of what you write, I'm proud of having a friend who takes the time to post things of interest to so many people. I always just say you have a page, I never give the URL address. But I will be more discreet in the future. (But you ARE a tad sensitive if the book comment bothered you - a good healthy difference of opinion is FUN. I completely agree with talking politics, though. You can't often convince the other side, so it's more a duel than a discussion. Keep fighting the good fight!)

Posted by: Oda Mae at July 24, 2004 08:04 PM (Hn49D)

3 I hear the phrase 'I can't believe you read that crap' probably once a week. I've found that it does not matter what I'm reading, someone will say it. Even I found it popping out of my mouth when I saw a coworker reading romance novels. I generally try not to hit people with my views if they don't want to talk about it, but if the subject is raised, game on.

Posted by: John at July 24, 2004 08:37 PM (+Ysxp)

4 Oh, and Band of Brothers is excellent, both series and book.

Posted by: John at July 24, 2004 08:39 PM (+Ysxp)

5 Sarah I'm the same way on many of the things you mention. Oh, I don't shy away too much from a good debate, and I don't hedge away from speaking my opinion - except on some issues. In my real life I don't talk a lot of politics. It would be bad for business and bad for friendships. I also don't talk religion unless they ask me questions. That's one of the things I love about blogging. I can put my thoughts out there, read and comment on others and feel like I'm almost having a conversation. If that makes me timid - that'll be the first time someone called me that. ;-)

Posted by: Tammi at July 24, 2004 08:45 PM (Xm18O)

6 Sarah (that's my daughter's name too), Re. "Everything I did was wrong" - sounds like that statement was true in one respect; you forgot to add 'my taste in boyfriends was wrong.' (Hope you have fixed that.) The blog world is most valuable for people who think they are alone in their feelings or beliefs, because their 'real world' is limited to a too-uniform group of people. It can be a real boost to their self-esteem to learn they are not alone and wierd. I'm sorry Tim has stopped, though I can certainly understand. The 'mission' he set for his blog is now accomplished. I was only bothered that he was regretting having blogged because it was 'impolite' - it was anything but that. If it were not for the bloggers I would not have a clue what was really going on in Iraq (well, maybe a 'clue' from Fox, but that's all).

Posted by: Glenmore at July 24, 2004 09:37 PM (/tLZ4)

7 I don't know about anyone else, but I'm forced to read you as often as I can get online. Of course, its myself holding myself hostage until I grok. I tend to hold my opinions because I don't want to offend anyone who may disagree. Perhaps its because of the position I am in and the subtel influence I might have over the younger soldiers, but I pretty much keep my opines to myself, the one holding myself hostage until I grok. You get the picture.

Posted by: Sgt Hook at July 25, 2004 10:35 AM (olp4a)

8 subtle even

Posted by: Sgt Hook at July 25, 2004 10:35 AM (olp4a)

9 Don't worry Sarah, I've been there too, and still am in some respects. I also don't want to offend anyone, and argue my points horribly in person, much preferring to respond in type. The need to not offend becomes outweighed by the need to speak your own mind in time. You are still very young, and learning who you are (as am I at 43). The older you get, the more sure of your opinions you are and don't really give a flying rat's behind what anyone else thinks. Growing a thicker skin is a blessing of age, but don't let it grow so thick that you are impervious or insensitive to others' opinions. Although, with the blinding hate of the left these days, armor may be helpful. I respect your opinion because you speak from your heart. If others can't respect that, then THEY are the ones who are myoptic. Even if I think what someone says or believes is STUPID, I respect their point of view, and try to steer them to more information to broaden their view. I never claim to be the end-all, know-all, and don't ever believe any one else is either! There is very little in this world that is that black-and-white. People start with different beliefs, as wrongheaded as each other may think. That's what makes this country so great is that we CAN discuss and disagree. (Disclaimer: DISAGREEMENT DOES NOT MEAN CENSORSHIP!) Hang in there girl. My prayers are with you and yours.

Posted by: MargeinMI at July 25, 2004 09:11 PM (o532Z)

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