I’ve been called an argumentative person once or twice. I’ve also been called aggressive. But the truth is I don’t think of myself as these things. I think being an outspoken woman can lead to being termed these things. I do think I am mostly simply assertive. I know how to engage in discussion and to confidently state my arguments when I do. Because when I speak about things, I rarely speak about things in detail that I have at least not been enlightened about or experienced. Still, as I am maturing in my twenties, I am learning to pick my battles.
I met with one of my mentors recently and she told me something very profound, “Don’t argue with people you don’t respect.” It’s something that I have been attempting to put in practice in my real life discussions as well as my digital writing endeavors. But until she called it out so eloquently, I didn’t realize how important it was for me to embody what she was advising. I usually shut-down when I am engaging in conversation with someone whose opinion I don’t respect, mostly because I have allowed them to think that I thought their perspective was worth listening to.
I am not a person who thinks that every opinion has the same value, as I have mentioned in the past. Some people would consider this elitist of me but I prefer to look at it as having the ability to separate well-constructed opinions from terrible ones. In this day and age where a lot of people have a right to their opinion and have the right to share their opinion, a lot of bad ones float around. And while it is important to recognize that an opinion that differs from one’s own opinion is not a bad one, it is also important to pay attention to opinions that are formed well, whether they are in agreement or disagreement with one’s perception of the world.
There is a lot of fluff on the Internet. Writing for public consumption sometimes requires the fluff. Yet I also think there is a lot of opportunity to find intelligent pieces that people can both agree and disagree with; but pieces that nonetheless still provide the reader with an education. And the same is true for our encounters with people. We do not need to agree or disagree with people for us to be educated in our conversations with them. Sometimes even when the most opposing views exist from our own, it can be most prudent to simply listen and try to understand the reasoning that led to the opinion.
Oftentimes our first instinct when we consume opinions that do not align with our view of the world is to vehemently reject them and judge them as “wrong.” And while I believe that some opinions are flat-out undesirable and poorly constructed, it is still not always worth the effort to try to change people’s minds. Especially if one can reasonably deduce that the opinion and the person in the context of what they choose to opine, is truly not stating something respectable. And perhaps we can argue about what constitutes a respectable opinion but much of the time, I think that some things simply speak for themselves. And knowing this, we must learn to pick our battles about who we choose to engage in conversation with; and with whom we choose to disagree. Because not everyone or everything is worth your precious time or your valuable effort.