Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nothing you can say...

So, because genetics have created a situation where I am unable to walk away from an idiotic exchange, I've spent the last couple days engaged in an increasingly strange back and forth on the Facebook.

You might notice that I'm not even going to refer to it as a discussion or conversation, because, well, it really isn't.

What's become striking to me is that the person on the other side has begun to refer to opinions, ideas and courses of action that are being advocated by "my guys". It seems nothing you can say can tear me away from my guys.

Which is all news to me because, well, I didn't know that I have guys. If there's one thing that I've always really liked about the friends that I have and many of the people whom I've gotten to meet and work with, it's that they're mostly a pretty intelligent bunch. On any number of occasions some of us have failed to see eye-to-eye with one another and it all works out. No harm. No foul. As corny and optimistic as it sounds, several times I've found my own opinion moved. That's the beauty of having smart friends and from having an education that is entirely based on the critique system of learning.

There is no easier way to learn humility than, once a week, to sit in a room, unable to respond, while a large group of people dissect the work that you have done.

Not that long ago (1) I was involved with a group of people who outsiders would have likely considered to be "my guys". Some were, some weren't, but those who were weren't "my guys" for the reasons those outsiders would have thought.

Chief among the things that made my time spent with this particular group stressful and frustrating was their habit of either agreeing or remaining completely silent. With a few notable exceptions, these were people who were near clinically uncomfortable with constructive disagreement because to disagree with someone meant risking that they would not like you. That you would be seen as an outsider. A pain.

To be fair, this was a fear that was proven reality on several occasions, occasions where I watched grown adults play out the roles I always suspected they had or had wanted to play while in high school.

This is, ultimately, not part of my nature. While I will freely admit to being lousy at confrontation, I like to think that I'm pretty good when it comes to having a discussion. At the end of it, I don't have to agree with you and you don't have to agree with me. Disagreement is fine. Some might even assert, as I like to do, that it's part and parcel of this little experiment we're calling democracy. We each get to have an opinion. We each get to have a position and our own set of ideas.

We each have the right to plaster the Constitution on the side of a bus and brand our family vacation.

We each have the right to make as many jokes as we feel moved to do about the person that plasters the Constitution on the side of a bus and brands their non-political campaign family vacation.

And we each have the right to turn to the person next to us, or on the other side of the computer screen, to say that your joking is out of line or misplaced.

And if that person next to you happens to be, I just ask one thing.

Just remember who you're talking to.

It's me.

Just me...the one without the "guys".

1. Okay, at this point it's getting to be a fairly long time ago but, I'm not so good at moving on from this particular situation...a button the Freelancer is fond of pressing.