It’s Getting Real

Note: this post is approximately 1,250 words with a 9th Grade readability index. Click HERE for complete statistics.

It may not seem like it, but I’ve mostly abstained from posting opinion pieces . . .

Because they are emotionally draining.

Because issues are more complicated than what you read or hear or see, and discussing them get’s messy.

Because I don’t even for a moment think my input will sway anyone’s opinion.

Because the majority of readers are uninterested in my opinion. Especially, opinions they might find challenging.

In real life, I don’t converse with anyone about any of the stuff that’s happening. Some friend might occasionally ask for my opinion, but the amount of time we spend on it is minuscule. Instead, what I like doing — what I enjoy — is reflecting on stuff. I’ve not named this practice, but if it were to demand a name, I’d call it having private thinking parties.

When I write a piece, it’s mostly to put my own thoughts in order.

I enjoy documenting my musings; I classify them as the merging of opinion pieces and argumentative essays. However classified, I occasionally write pairs of essays, each expressing one side of a given issue. I got into this mode because sometime in my late twenties or early thirties, I came across a piece of advice I took to heart.

The advice was that you should not argue a position until you can fully articulate and argue the position of your opponent.

I took that to heart because I saw the benefit to that approach. It’s something I still do. In a given topic, I should be able to argue either position and make readers believe I hold that position even if I don’t. 

It’s a good habit to get into. Skeptical? Let me tell you why it’s good.

It’s good because if you can still hold your position after you know, fully understand, and can argue your opponent’s position, then you have some assurance that you aren’t fooling yourself. Also, you’ll be able to effectively counter any weakness in your opponent’s argument.

Note: There are exceptions. For instance, I can’t argue elements of faith, delusions, superstitions, etc. I don’t know of any argument I could make as to why a rabbit’s foot — one that obviously brought its owner no luck — would bring me good luck.

What if you find no weaknesses in their argument? At the very least, your position is flawed. More likely, your position is wrong, and you should switch sides. 

What if you don’t want to switch sides even after you can’t poke holes in the opposing argument? Then you are useless to yourself, those around you, the country, and the world. You will not make a positive contribution to society. Probably, quite the opposite.  

You’ll be in good company because the above method is not what you see on television, what you read in newspapers, what you hear on the internet (podcasts).

Note: Most news programs are useless because they don’t spend enough time on topics. Instead, force yourself to listen to podcasts that counter your opinions and/or beliefs. Choose podcasts by smart people (yes, smart people can differ in opinions) and listen to understand.

Pay attention next time you listen to two people discussing a particular position. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on. Listen carefully, and you are bound to hear one or both individuals stick to talking points and never answer tough questions directed at them.

Instead of tackling a tough question, the individuals — sometimes, multiple individuals all at once — will instead misdirect by either changing the subject (usually mischaracterizing the opponent’s position in the process), or they will start yelling, repeating their position as they try to outshout the other persons.

If you’re really lucky, they will do it at the same time, and all you’ll hear is them loudly talk past each other. Once the allotted 30 seconds are up, they smile and thank each other, and you have learned nothing.

Most people are OK with it because it keeps their own position safely unchallenged. How? They’ll only listen to the person they agree with.

Media pundits, news personnel, and show hosts have agendas they want to push. They aren’t offering information; they offer indoctrination. It turns out that’s exactly what most people want. 

The reason people with opposing views are invited on “news” shows isn’t to understand or fairly debate said differences of opinions. No. The goal is to make the guest look bad. Shows want the clip that will be replayed ad nauseam on YouTube and other revenue-generating venues — usually out of context or heavily edited — and thus show people with opposing views in a bad light.

That’s what in today’s media wars passes for journalism. It used to be called lying, it used to be recognized as unethical, and audiences used to punish people who did that; they punished them with distrust and loss of viewership.

Instead, Fox News built their whole business model on it, and it was so successful that everyone seems to have followed suit.  We are the poorer for it.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t watch much news. I read articles, but even when from big-name sources, the bias shines so bright that it’s difficult seeing the point of reading them. The antidote — always — is to sift through what one reads and try to glean the substance from the emotional chaff.

Writing things down helps me with that process. Sometimes, the mere act of writing something down will have me intuit a new insight and change my opinion and what I was going to say about a topic. I have notes and articles — going back longer than I’ve had the blog — that will never see publication precisely because the act of writing them — or reading what I wrote — made me realize where I went wrong with my thinking.  

Obviously, even when “pretty sure” nothing I write is cast in stone. Changes to my positions will come from effective counters to my arguments based on reason and some application of hard data and/or rigorous logic. Emotional appeals seldom have any sway unless supported by said data, reason, and logic.

Also obvious, there’s nothing special about me, my access to information, or my life’s experiences. That means that what I write is nothing more than observations anyone can make . . . and anyone can argue for or against.

Readers should always feel free to do so in the comments.

One thing; I’ve been remiss in articulating a comment policy. I do so now (it’s on the sidebar):

Comments are subject to editing and/or erasure to maintain this blog at what is loosely described as an “R” rating. The preferred comments rating is “PG.”

Personal attacks, threats, or offensive material is not tolerated and any such material will be removed. Stupidity is tolerated but subject to merciless ridicule.

I’ve been lucky to date, probably because of my low readership. However, one can’t be lucky forever, hence the policy. You know . . . in case more people ever read this blog.

Finally . . . yes. This is a long-winded announcement warning of more opinion pieces. As I once did, I will be dispensing with photos in the opinion pieces. That will make it easier for people not interested in my musings to ignore those posts.

Meantime, one more photo.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, sympathy, or complaining about my life, or asking for help and advice, know you’re  likely missing my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor.